Rebranding is more intricate than initial branding

The brand value creation process begins when the firm invests in a marketing program targeting actual or potential customers. Any marketing program that can be attributed to brand value development, either intentional or not, falls into this category — product research development, and design; trade or intermediary support; and marketing communications.

The marketing activity associated with the program affects the customer “mind-set” with respect to the brand. The issue is, in what ways have customers been changed as a result of the marketing program? This mind-set, across a broad group of customers, then results in certain outcomes for the brand in terms of how it performs in the marketplace. This is the collective impact of individual customer actions regarding how much and when they purchase, the price that they pay, and so on.
A marketer has to consider the issue of extending the brand name to other products. In deciding to extent or not, the marketer should consider whether the new product will enhance the core brand’s equity and whether the brand name aids the extension process. The worst that can happen is that the new product may create an association or image that can harm the parent brand. A marketer needs to be careful of such a crisis developing in his new product decisions. Rebranding is more challenging than the initial Branding. In this article we are giving a few cases of rebranding and its appreciation or criticism by various concerned people including customers.

Case study: British Airways

British Airways is less than upbeat about its 1997 rebrand and the introduction of tailfins sporting ethnically-inspired designs. The strategy, intended to impart a more global feel to the BA brand, did not go down well with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously covered one of the designs with her handkerchief, saying ‘We fly the British flag, not these awful things’. Shortly afterward, Virgin Atlantic added the Union Jack to its livery.

Two years later, then BA chief executive Bob Ayling called a review, resulting in a decision to discontinue the tailfins and replace them with a variant of the Union Flag used by Concorde. The existing ethnic tailfins remained, but no more were launched.

When Rod Eddington replaced Ayling two years later, all BA planes were repainted with the Union Flag design, which Eddington felt was less likely to alienate British customers.

In terms of the consumer, it was a disaster. BA didn’t realise the reaction it would get from the Daily Mail-reading public. Sometimes branding experts live in this idealised, cosmopolitan, London-centric world, when they actually need to think beyond the M25 and see that it is a totally different world out there.

Case study: PWC

In 2002, the consulting arm of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was preparing to float on the stock market. The brand team, including head of UK brand communications, had been working on a rebrand for months. When the name, Monday, was revealed, it sparked widespread criticism. However, the debate didn’t last long. Before Monday could be floated, IBM bought the company and ditched the name in a merger with IBM Business Consulting.

Many critics claim this decision rescued the firm from the embarrassment of a disastrous rebrand, but the rebrand was a great achievement in terms of boosting awareness of the company. They got a mention on the BBC News, and there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Of course, there was lots of misquoting about how much they had spent on the rebranding in some sections of the media it was reported to have cost hundreds of millions of pounds but that sort of thing is inevitable.