Rebranding: the ultimate guide (and mistakes to avoid) Discover the power of rebranding success and avoid costly mistakes with this comprehensive guide. Written by Stephanie Lennox Updated on 28 July 2023 Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. Written and reviewed by: Stephanie Lennox Writer In the ever-changing world of business and marketing, rebranding has become a hot topic. Staying relevant and capturing the attention of consumers is vital, and rebranding is one of the most powerful strategies companies use to achieve this. Recently, tech mogul Elon Musk made waves when he rebranded Twitter to X.com. This upheaval has left business owners more aware than ever of the merits and risks of a rebrand, and its potential impact on business success and credibility. In this guide, we'll explore what rebranding entails, why businesses go for it, and how to execute it effectively. We'll also examine some famous examples of successful and unsuccessful rebrands, and discuss the financial aspects of the process. You don’t need to be a global corporation to rebrand – this guide will provide you with valuable insights to make the right decisions for your small business. In this guide, we will cover: What is rebranding and how does it work? Why do businesses rebrand? Dos and don'ts of rebranding How to communicate a rebrand When is the best time to rebrand? Famous rebranding examples that did and didn't work Is rebranding expensive? Trademarking your rebrand Conclusion FAQs What is rebranding and how does it work?Rebranding is the process of overhauling and revitalising your business's identity. This could involve its name, visuals, strategic direction, or purpose. In some cases, it may even lead to a pivot in the business’s goals and ideals.An effective rebrand should go beyond superficial modifications. It’s not about changing a font or a logo. It should aim to reshape how your business is perceived in the market in order to create a stronger, more relevant connection with your customers. The essence of rebranding lies in reshaping how the world perceives your business. For instance, what aspects of your business do you want to change or improve? Do you want to attract a different audience? Or maybe you're looking to expand into new markets? Whatever the reason, it's essential to have a clear purpose and plan in mind.Going beyond logos and fontsWhen people hear the term “rebranding,” they often think of a new logo or a fresh colour scheme. But rebranding is not just about changing logos and fonts: it goes far beyond that. While visual elements are essential components of a rebrand, they are just the tip of the iceberg. True rebranding delves into the very essence of a company, exploring its values, mission, and unique selling proposition.Connecting with your consumersSometimes rebranding can be a little jarring, so don't forget to cater to your most loyal fans, customers and stakeholders. It’s important to keep them in the loop about the changes you're making, what’s changing, and to reassure them that: “Hey, we're still the same business you love, but we're now even better!”In essence, rebranding is not just a cosmetic makeover. It’s an opportunity for a company to rediscover its purpose and create a more powerful and compelling presence in the market. Rebranding can reposition lagging businesses and revive their journeys toward long-term relevance. Why do businesses rebrand?As companies evolve and grow, rebranding can trigger a much-needed refresh of a company's goals and ideals – perhaps to expand into new markets or to reflect new current values and offerings. Businesses typically rebrand in order to:Distance themselves from scandals or negative publicity: a tarnished reputation can be challenging to recover from. Rebranding can provide a fresh start and allow the business to distance itself from past issues.Refresh the company’s image: when facing fierce competition, rebranding can inject excitement and rejuvenate interest from customers. Elon Musk's decision to rebrand Twitter to ‘X' came after a direct challenge from the launch of a new competitor: Mark Zuckerburgs' Threads.Foster more meaningful work: a well-executed rebrand can be a great opportunity to reignite passion and enthusiasm within your workforce by aligning the company's purpose with your employees’ personal values. Employees often find more satisfaction in their work when they feel connected to a company's mission and see the positive impact it makes on customers. Dos and don'ts of rebrandingIt's essential to consider the following dos and don'ts to ensure a successful business rebrand:Dos:Do have a clear plan and purpose: define your objectives and develop a clear plan that outlines the changes and expected outcomes.Do research to understand your target audience: knowing your audience's preferences and needs will help you create a rebrand that resonates with them.Do make sure you’re consistent across all channels: ensure your new branding is consistent across all touchpoints to strengthen brand identity and recognition.Do communicate with stakeholders and customers: keep your stakeholders and customers informed about the rebrand to minimise confusion and garner support.Don'ts:Don’t rebrand for the sake of rebranding: there should be a clear purpose behind the decision and identified goals for what you’re trying to achieve.Don’t make drastic or confusing changes: an overly radical rebrand can alienate existing customers, so strike a balance between innovation and familiarity.Don’t lose your existing brand equity: if your current brand has strong associations, take care not to remove these. Musk can rebrand Twitter to X, but the language of ‘tweeting’ and ‘retweeting’ is a powerful part of the previous brand that could be lost along the way.Don’t rush the rebrand: take the time to plan and execute the rebranding carefully; rushing can lead to costly mistakes or customer confusion.Don’t forget to budget: create a realistic budget to prevent overspending and ensure that the rebranding process stays financially viable. When it comes to rebranding, the way you share the news should be a big deal. So, let's make sure you do it right with these helpful tips:Create a communication plan: start by laying out a clear roadmap for your rebranding journey. Detail your plans for stakeholders, letting them in on the exciting changes coming their way.Answer questions: People might have some burning questions about the rebrand. Don't leave them hanging! Be ready to address any queries your stakeholders or customers may have. It's all about keeping everyone in the loop.Launch with a bang: Time to make some noise! Throw a fabulous launch party or campaign to get some excitement going. For this, you can use any channels of communication you prefer – your website, social media, emails – the most important thing is sharing the news with your audience, and preparing them for the amazing changes ahead.Make sure the messaging is clear: A compelling narrative around your rebrand is a great way to capture and retain the interest of your audience: which could simply be your story so far that led up to this pivotal moment. The new message, however, should be simple and captivating.Communication is the key to a successful rebranding, so get ready to shout it from the rooftops in order to get your awesome brand out into the world again. Timing is crucial when considering a rebrand. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, several factors can influence the decision:The state of your business: rebrand when your company is ready for change and growth.Your target audience: consider whether your audience's preferences and needs align with your current branding.The competitive landscape: if your business faces increasing competition, a rebrand can be a strategic move to stand out.Your budget: evaluate whether you can allocate sufficient resources to execute a successful rebrand. Several companies have experienced both successful and unsuccessful rebranding efforts. Here are some notable examples:Successful rebrandsApple IncSource: Tailor BrandsApple underwent a significant rebrand in the late 1990s, shifting from its rainbow-coloured logo and a confusing array of product lines to a sleek and minimalist approach. The iconic white apple silhouette we know today became the symbol of the brand. This rebranding brought consistency and clarity to Apple's image, making it more appealing to consumers. It also helped position the company as a leader in innovative technology, ultimately leading to increased sales and brand loyalty.StarbucksSource: Natalia VorobyevaIn 2011, Starbucks underwent a subtle but impactful rebranding. They dropped the words “Starbucks Coffee” from their logo and focused on the green mermaid icon. This move allowed Starbucks to expand beyond coffee and into various related products and experiences. The rebranding showcased Starbucks' commitment to being more than just a coffee shop, helping them diversify their offerings and appeal to a broader customer base.NikeSource: Ink Bot DesignIn 1995, Nike underwent a transformative rebranding when it introduced the famous “Just Do It” slogan. This simple, powerful message resonated with consumers and inspired a sense of motivation and determination. The rebranding aligned with Nike's image as a brand that encourages athletes and individuals to push their limits. The “Just Do It” campaign significantly boosted brand recognition and sales, solidifying Nike's position as a leading sports apparel company.Domino's PizzaSource: QuoraIn 2009, Domino's Pizza launched a game-changing rebranding campaign in response to customer feedback about the quality of its pizza. The company openly admitted its faults and pledged to improve its recipes. They introduced a new logo and tagline, “You got 30 minutes,” emphasising their commitment to fast delivery. This rebranding helped rebuild trust and perception, leading to increased customer satisfaction and a significant increase in sales.TargetSource: Zen BusinessIn 2006, Target underwent a rebranding that included redesigning its logo and stores. They introduced a more modern and appealing aesthetic, using clean lines and bold colours. This rebranding helped Target shed its image as just another discount store and positioned it as a trendy and affordable retail destination. The rebranding resonated with customers, leading to an increase in foot traffic and sales.Unsuccessful rebrandsTwitter to X.comSource: CNBCTwitter's decision to rebrand as X.com has generated mixed reactions in the marketing and business world. While it is too early to make a final judgement, there have been discussions about potential similarities between the new name and other well-established ‘X-led’ brands including Microsoft’s Xbox. This resemblance raises concerns about the visibility and distinctiveness of the rebranded identity, particularly in a highly competitive and crowded market. Rebranding can be a risky move, especially when the new name shares similarities with existing brands that might cause confusion among consumers.Facebook to MetaSource: ABC NewsFacebook's rebrand to Meta has not been without criticism. The term “Meta” is often associated with the concept of the “metaverse” and futuristic technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality. However, some critics argue that the term already feels outdated and less appealing given how utterly eclipsed it’s been by the craze for artificial intelligence (AI). The choice of “Meta” as the new identity might not effectively capture the company's vision and aspirations, leading to questions about the brand's relevance and long-term positioning in the rapidly evolving tech landscape.Gap Source: The Branding JournalClothing retailer Gap experienced a notable rebranding failure when it attempted to update its iconic logo with a hasty and poorly received redesign in 2010. The change faced immediate backlash from the public, who expressed strong disapproval of the “ugly” new logo. The negative response led to a swift reversal of the rebranding effort: it only took six days for Gap to revert back to its original look due to consumer pressure, which left them shy of £100 million. £100 million!This example demonstrates the importance of thoroughly testing and considering consumer sentiment before implementing significant changes to a beloved and well-established brand. Rushed rebranding attempts can alienate loyal customers and damage brand loyalty.4 On Demand to “All 4”Source: AMTVThe rebranding of 4 On Demand, a UK video streaming service, to “All 4” encountered difficulties in communicating the platform's new identity. The name change caused confusion among viewers, as it made it challenging for them to identify the service they were accustomed to. Rebranding can be successful when it strengthens brand recognition and clarifies the brand's purpose, but in this case, the change led to uncertainty and a loss of clarity. Successful rebrands resonate positively with the target audience and reinforce the brand's core offerings.HBO Max to ‘Max'Source: Tom's GuideWhen HBO Max decided to simplify its name to ‘Max,' the move was met with criticism from consumers and industry experts. The rebrand was perceived as unnecessary, as the original HBO brand had significant recognition and reputation. By dropping “HBO” from its name, the streaming service missed an opportunity to leverage the well-established brand and its association with quality entertainment. Rebranding should be approached with caution, especially when it involves well-known and respected brands, as unnecessary changes can lead to confusion and dilute the brand's equity.These examples illustrate that rebranding is not without risks, and successful execution requires careful consideration of consumer perceptions, market dynamics, and the company's core identity. Is rebranding expensive?Rebranding costs will vary depending on the scale and complexity of the process. While expenses like hiring a branding agency, designing new logos and materials, updating digital assets are the main culprits behind high costs, sometimes the benefits outweigh the financial drawbacks and over the long-term it could be great for your ROI.Smaller UK businesses can make the process more effective by carefully planning and focusing on ultra-strategic changes. It's essential to consider the potential benefits and long-term value that a successful rebrand can bring to the business, and it’s always okay to start small.Some standout examples of exceptionally high-cost rebranding have been at the BBC over the years, at £5 million and £7 million respectively, which is wild because they were mostly aesthetic changes rather than complete revamps of the brand values or such. In 1997, BBC corporate head of design Tony Key was forced to defend the corporation’s £5.1m, three-year implementation of its new identity, designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn. They also came under fire in 2022 for spending the £7 million — but also trying to keep the figure a secret.Ultimately the cost of a rebrand is up to you to decide when it comes from your own pocket, but in the case of the BBC, the discontent mostly stems from the fact that it is always taxpayer funds being spent on their rebrands – as many people struggle to pay their TV licenses, deeming it outdated and unnecessary, and over-75s see their free TV licences scrapped. The huge branding overhauls seem untoward because consumers believed their funds could have gone towards more productive issues.It is said that the highest rebranding project yet was at Symantec Brand & Acquisition, who spent 1 billion, two hundred and eighty million dollars. Trademarking your rebrandWhen you're diving into the exciting world of rebranding, there are two essential trademarking steps you can't afford to overlook:Don't forget to register new trademarksAs you embark on your rebranding journey and create fresh logos and company names, it's crucial to protect your hard work. Registering a trademark ensures that your brand is legally protected, and no one else can swoop in and claim it as their own. This way, you'll have the exclusive rights to use your new branding, giving your business a unique identity in the market.Check for existing trademarksBefore you get too attached to your shiny new brand identity, take a moment to check if anyone else already holds a trademark for similar elements. You don't want to accidentally step on someone else's toes and get tangled up in legal disputes. Be sure to do your homework and make sure your chosen brand elements are original and won't infringe on anyone else's rights. Elon Musk's rebranding error Source: CNBCEven the big shots can stumble when it comes to rebranding. Recently, tech mogul Elon Musk made his grand rebranding announcement for Twitter, renaming it as simply “X.” However, it seems like this seemingly bold move might not have been well-thought-out, in the same vein as a few other of his recent executive decisions for the platform.As it turns out, Microsoft (and his good ol' rival Mark Zuckerburg) already hold trademarks for the letter “X” – and under the category of “social media services” to boot. This could mean serious legal trouble for Musk and his newly minted “X” brand. Instead of a smooth rebranding, it looks like Musk may face years of litigation and uncertainty over the use of the letter “X.”The lesson here? Always double-check the trademark landscape before finalising your rebrand. Avoid costly mistakes and potential legal battles by making sure your brand elements are entirely yours to claim. Proper trademark registration is an essential step to safeguard your hard work, prevent conflicts, and ensure your business shines with a brand that's uniquely yours. ConclusionSo there you have it – rebranding is a big deal that can make a huge difference for a business! Knowing what it's all about, why companies go for it, and the dos and don'ts can help you confidently tackle the rebranding process. While there are no guarantees, successful rebrands can breathe new life into a company. No matter what your business does or what stage it is currently at, rebranding presents an opportunity for growth and revitalisation when approached with a well-thought-out strategy.Rebranding is a significant undertaking, but it can have a profound impact on your business success. So, if you're thinking about taking the plunge if your business has been losing steam lately, we say go for it – it may just be worth the risk! Frequently Asked Questions What are the most common reasons why businesses rebrand? Businesses typically rebrand to refresh their image, expand into new markets, adapt to changes in their business or the market, or distance themselves from negative publicity. What are the most common mistakes that businesses make when rebranding? The most common rebranding mistakes are not having a clear plan, making drastic changes that confuse customers, rushing the process or forgetting to budget properly. How much does it cost to rebrand a business? The cost of rebranding can vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the business, ranging from a few thousand pounds to several hundred thousand pounds. How long does it take to rebrand a business? The timeline for rebranding varies based on the extent of changes, but it typically takes several months to a year for a successful rebranding process. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags Essential Guides News and Features Written by: Stephanie Lennox Writer Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 11 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.