Most of the time, rebranding (changing your logo or tag phrase) is a waste of time and money.

Customers usually don't care about that stuff and or the marketing gibberish (like "distinctive typographic treatment") used to justify it.

Furthermore, rebranding can be hugely expensive. It's not unusual for a large company to spend many millions of dollars on a rebranding effort.

As I said, usually a rebrand is just how marketers navel-gaze, but some rebrands are so egregiously bad that they drive customers away or make them angry.

Recently, the company MadeByOomph sent me a list of disastrous rebrands, which I used as inputs to my top 10 list below.

1. BP.

BP redesigned its logo so that the company might appear more ecofriendly. Naturally, nobody noticed until BP was responsible for the largest oil spill of all time. At that point, the new logo suddenly became woefully ironic.

 

 

2. Esurance.

Esurance's Erin character was a viral sensation when Allstate bought the company. Allstate's "brand police" trashed all that viral visibility to create brand consistency (the hobgoblin of little minds), thereby allowing their competitor Progressive to capture the limelight with a similarly quirky female character.

 

 

3. McDonald's.

This was a tossup between the ill-fated "Lovin' Beats Hatin'" campaign and the fast food giant's new hamburglar character. Who thought it was a good idea to turn a kid-friendly nostalgic icon into a creepy, grade-B super-villain?

 

 

4. Groupe Bull.

When the French computer firm Groupe Bull bought Honeywell's troubled information systems group, they named the new division Bull Worldwide Information Systems, which everyone immediately shortened to Bull Whiz.

 

 

5. Kraft Foods.

Kraft Foods' original logo was a globally recognized icon. When the company changed it in 2009, consumers complained so vehemently that the company returned to the original. No word on how many $M they lost, but that can't have been cheap.

 

 

6. MasterCard.

It's hard to understand what MasterCard was trying to accomplish by making its simple, universally recognized logo into something more complicated. Whatever the case, the change was short-lived and the old logo came back. 

 

 

7. Netflix.

In a move that confused everybody, Netflix announced it would change the name of its DVD-shipping business to Qwikster. Since this made no sense to anybody, it was soon withdrawn. No word on whether the genius who thought this one up got fired.

 

 

8. Pizza Hut.

Pizza Hut tried to rebrand itself as "The Hut," apparently in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. Then somebody noticed that the only huts in pop culture are Jabba the Hutt and Gilligan's Island. The rebrand got cancelled before it went live.

 

 

9. Radio Shack.

I suspect that the same genius behind "The Hut" was also behind the attempt to rebrand Radio Shack as "The Shack." In this case, the company was apparently trying to dump the somewhat obsolete term "radio." As if the term "shack" is all hip or something.  Weird. 

 

 

10. Syfy.

I've written about this one previously, but forgot to include it in my list of global brand fails. The idea was to expand the SciFi channel brand into other genres. However, it turns out that syfy is British slang for venereal disease.

 

 

Published on: Nov 2, 2015
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