In the early 2000s, revered British clothing brand Burberry was experiencing some hiccups. For decades, the Burberry name had been synonymous with English culture, but as the 20th century moved into the 21st, the company began to overextend itself. Expanding beyond trench coats and umbrellas, Burberry's name and trademark beige tartan plaid were soon plastered on every item of clothing that could support them. Without a clear vision, the name suffered: Even with the rich history behind the line, customers began viewing the clothing in a different light, and before long, Burberry was more closely associated with England’s gangster culture than with tea and crumpets.
The story of Burberry’s rebrand is far from finished, but much can be learned from what the company has done so far to correct this mistake. Since hiring Christopher Bailey as its new creative director in 2001, the company has fought hard to rein in the brand that got away and return it to its former place as an icon of luxury. It has reduced the number of products that carry its signature patterns, refocused on striking new fashion trends, and today finds itself one of the darlings of the runway.
When a company is in trouble, well-executed rebranding can be one of the most powerful tools at its disposal. Global brands such as Old Spice, Harley-Davidson and Target have all gone through successful rebranding campaigns to find new life on the other side of the tunnel. With the right vision, your company can do the same.
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The Importance of Testing
Rebranding doesn’t guarantee automatic success by any means. Overstock.com learned as much in 2011 when it attempted to rename itself “O.co,” going so far as to put its new name on the multi-purpose stadium that hosts the Oakland Athletics and Raiders. But the company soon found that customers were not taking kindly to the switch and, within a few months, Overstock returned to its original name. Your company can learn from Overstock’s mistake. When planning a rebrand, testing is critical. Failure to do so can alienate customers, lose contracts and give your competition an opening to strike.
Three Tips for Successful Rebranding
- Package design — Don’t ignore the importance of package design when it comes to rebranding your company. Once again, testing is essential when redesigning a package. Come up with multiple options and let your customer base tell you which they prefer.
- Start With a Clear Vision — Rebranding is not an undertaking to be handled haphazardly. If you aren’t sure why you’re changing your name and you aren’t quite clear on how this new commercial campaign is going to help your sales, put the brakes on. Let your ideas flow from your mission statement, not vice versa.
- Talk to Your Customers — The age of social media presents a wonderful opportunity for companies to engage with their customers. Ask them what they would like to see. Find out what they like and don’t like about your brand. If you listen to their answers, you may find that the roadmap to successful rebranding has been before you all along.