The Dos, Don’ts, and Duhs of Rebranding

The Dos, Don’ts, and Duhs of Rebranding

Do you know that in 2008, all four of the first family wore J. Crew during the inauguration festivities? This occurred at the tail end of a five-year company rebranding, during which revenues rose 107% and J. Crew became known as the store you turn to for the basics (think tank tops and capris) with a hint of luxury. The cornerstone of the campaign’s success was actually paring down to focus more on what they did best: the basics. Once they did that, J.Crew went on to show that their product was for everyone- from stay-at-home-moms to the First Family.

In 1982, Harley-Davidson had no money and was, in fact, $90 million in debt. Despite having a good brand and loyal customers, the company was unable to generate a profit because, at that point in time, their product quality had gone downhill, taking a backseat to other aspects of the company. The overhaul that saved them from bankruptcy had nothing to do with color scheme or logo choice, and everything to do with providing a better product. Once the top priority became producing a better quality product, the company was eventually able to climb out of the hole and into the history books.

In the ‘90s, UPS was desperately seeking a foothold in their close competition with FedEx. Their win came in the form of a new tagline, “What can brown do for you?” accompanied by characters from ‘Mailroom Guy’ to ‘CEO’. The new approach aimed to show that no matter who you are in a company, UPS can meet your specific set of needs. After experiencing success with the effort, UPS has recently changed their slogan once more, highlighting their role on a global scale by saying “We [Heart] Logistics.” UPS knows- and shows- us that adapting to meet the needs of your customers is the way to their collective hearts.

Rebranding means something slightly different to everyone, as demonstrated by these three examples. And while consistency is one of the most important factors in successful marketing, change is sometimes the only option. So how do you know it’s time?

The companies previously discussed didn’t just start out knowing what their biggest issues were and what they needed to change. According to Entrepreneur magazine, these are 5 signs it’s time to rebrand:

  1. Your old image is obsolete
  2. You’re targeting a new demographic
  3. A new competitor is threatening you
  4. Your mission or values have changed
  5. Your original brand was botched

If one or more of these rings true for your business, it may be time to consider changing things up. But remember, knowing the problem isn’t the same thing as finding a solution. Companies can experience the same problems and in the end have vastly different solutions. This is where branding agencies such as Right Think can come in handy – they have experts familiar with the ins and outs (not to mention the dos and don’ts) that come with the process. They can help you take an in-depth look at the moving parts of your company and identify what isn’t working, what needs improvement, and what needs thrown out entirely.

No matter the solution you come up with, you can rest assured that companies before yours have had the same issues and needed the same solution before you. Why is that important to you? So you can be sure not to make the same mistakes. Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout the process:

Do your research before changing your name, including a visit to This lesson comes to us from the SciFi Channel, who made a change in their name because they would be able to trademark the different spelling. Unfortunately, the spelling they landed on- Syfy- also happens to be a slang term for syphilis. The result? Alienation of many longtime fans, ridicule, and inclusion on lists of Don’ts for many years to come.

Sometimes, new is NOT better. Whether consumers are super attached to the original logo (think Tropicana in 2009), an attempt at modernity goes too far (like the 2012 Olympics), or you’re simply trying too hard to be cool (Radioshack), replacing a logo is touchy and should be done with caution. So, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

Any change should have the potential to be lasting change. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Pepsi or Coke fan, this is the truth: while Coke’s iconic logo has barely changed over decades, Pepsi has redone their branding many times. At great financial cost to the company, Pepsi has perhaps achieved some of their goals. However, they are also now the butt of many jokes due to their ever-changing logo and look. Worth it? Unlikely.

If you’re going to do it do it right. AOL and Xfinity are two companies whose recent changes are publicly acknowledged as skin deep. Both companies have rolled out something new- Comcast introduced Xfinity, and AOL produced a new logo- but neither followed up with additional changes. Consumers have been left scratching their heads, waiting to see how the companies’ new faces improve their business. A new name and a new logo are simply not a solution to deeper problems. If you’re not ready and willing to create lasting change within your company, then save your money and skip it!

Rebranding has helped many companies take a turn when their future was unclear at best. In today’s age, a company’s brand is their bond. Consumers have all the facts and figures at their fingertips, and now is the time when their loyalty is hard earned and long kept. Make sure your brand has what to takes!

Is rebranding the right choice for your company? Click here to find out!

What are your most important tips for rebranding? Tell us in the comments below!
6 Things to Consider when Naming your Brand

6 Things to Consider when Naming your Brand

If you’ve ever named a baby, you know how difficult finding just the right name can be, after all, that baby will be stuck with the one you pick. No pressure. In our family, we have to pass all of the names we are considering for a baby through my husband’s brother, who then tries to come up with every possible nickname the kids at school could tease him/her with. Whichever names have the least possibilities stay on the list.

Naming your company can be even more difficult because the name of your brand needs to do more for your business than just be what people call you. In Naming for Power, Naseem Javed says, “In today’s competitive world, a name must function as a total messenger.” Think about that. Wow. A total messenger for your brand. That is a big job for one or two words. It’s an understatement that those one or two words need to be chosen carefully. Oftentimes, our naming lists can get into the hundreds before we find a name that passes all of the following tests.

In fact, 6 things need to go into the consideration of the name of your brand.


#1 Memorable

First and foremost, if people can’t remember, pronounce, or spell your name, it will take a lot more advertising dollars to get people to remember it. It also needs to be distinctive and stand out from the competition. Make a list of the names of your competitors so you can compare your name options to those that are already in the marketplace.


#2 Meaningful

Your name needs to support the positioning of your brand and speak to the nature of your company. In other words, it needs to communicate to your customers who you are, what you do, and how you are different from all of the other companies that do what you do. We recommend that you do a thorough job of creating your brand BEFORE deciding on a name, so that you can ensure that the name does support the brand positioning instead of working backwards to create a brand that supports your name.

Al Ries & Jack Trout, authors of Positioning, say “The name is the hook that hangs the brand on the product ladder in the prospect’s mind. In the positioning era, the single most important marketing decision you can make is what to name the product.”


#3 Stretchy

Like a good pair of yoga pants, your name needs to allow room for your business to grow. Does your brand name put your business in a position where it can change, build brand extensions, add new products or services and the name still make sense? The name you choose will need to be sustainable over time.


#4 Positive

It’s a good idea to make sure your name doesn’t unintentionally infer negative connotations. One thing to keep in mind, is that if your brand intends to do business internationally, also do a check to make sure the name doesn’t possess negative connotations in other languages. For example in the 1950s and 60s, there was a Swedish car magazine named “Fart”, which in Swedish translates to “speed”. You can probably see how this name would be embarrassing in a global setting. Here is a fun article with more branding blunders. The most prevalent languages are English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic, Bengali, Hindustani and Mandarin.


#5 Protectable

Your name is the most important part of your brand, and needs to be defendable. Finding a name that is legally protectable is becoming more and more difficult. You can perform a business name search through your state’s website and also a nationwide Trademark search through TESS. Make sure that it can be owned and trademarked and that the domain is available. Here is a great article that goes more into depth on deciding whether or not you need a trademark.

As far as your domain goes, most likely the .com will not be available or it will be for sale for a lot of money. We counsel people to get creative with their domain names by using a tagline or adding some descriptive words to it. If your company name is Lightening, and is taken, you could do or, or some other words that are associated with your business. In our case, was taken, so we opted for adding a hyphen like this:

Make sure you visit the sites that are using similar names as you and check to see that their products/services are different enough from yours so as to not confuse visitors who are looking for your site.


#6 Visual

Does the name conjure up some delectable concepts that can influence the art of the brand? The graphic elements of your brand will be much more memorable to others, if your name can play into them.

To get you started on your brainstorming, here are some ideas to turn to for inspiration:








Foreign Language

Mass Culture



















Have fun and good luck with naming your company! Let us know what you came up with!