A company’s logo and tagline leave a lasting first impression with consumers that can either make or break a business. Good rebranding can effectively update a company’s look to reflect changing times and gain the attention of new customers. Make the wrong changes, though, and your company could attract the wrong kind of attention that ends up costing far more than the price of new logos.
Click through to see some of the best — and most disastrous — ways these brands reinvented themselves.
Best Company Makeovers
A company rebrand can be a good thing — providing it works.
Check out these companies that pulled off genius makeovers that rocketed them to a new level of success.
Remember when a Netflix subscription meant receiving bright red envelopes containing DVDs in your mailbox? The innovative company started up in 1997, saving you a trip to not-yet-defunct Blockbuster Video. A monthly subscription fee was all it took to rent as many titles as you cared to watch.
In 2007, Netflix entered the streaming market and rebranded its logo from white letters on a red background to red letters on a black background for its bold march into our living rooms, changing the way Americans watch TV and movies. The rest is essentially history, as the company’s stock has soared ever since.
As “Netflixing” attracted more followers to the couch for hours on end, the company didn’t forget its more Luddite followers: Its DVD-by-mail service was rebranded to Qwikster in 2011, but the idea was quickly abandoned. In 2016, the company again rebranded the service — this time a little more subtly — to DVD.com.
Tribune Online Content Before
Newspaper giant Tribune Online Content has a long history and a stable of notable newspapers that include the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun, among others. But like many news organizations in the digital age — despite remaining profitable — it’s struggled to adapt to changing reader needs. Its stock declined steadily until, in April 2016, it hit a five-year low of $6.83.
In June 2016, Tribune Online Content shortened its name to “tronc,” adopting a colorful modern logo and even catching the internet’s lowercase vibe by dropping the capital letter at the front. Although initially criticized by other news organizations, the rebranding move was a profitable one for tronc. Company stock rose from $11.05 on June 3, 2016, to $20.23 on Feb. 16, 2018.
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Pabst Blue Ribbon Before
Since 1844, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was an inexpensive favorite brew in the U.S. for more than a century. As sales slid in the 1980s, the company changed owners several times with the result of Miller-Coors contracting to supply the beer in the famous red, white and blue cans and the business moving across the country to Los Angeles.
Pabst Blue Ribbon After
The company restructured in 2011 and used non-marketing targeted at millennials to rebrand itself. Low-key outreach included sponsoring events without banners, giving away company keychains on the down-low in Portland, Ore., bars and local TV ads featuring Will Ferrell airing in just three markets. The ads have more than 4 million YouTube views and 339 million media impressions.
Pabst Brewing Company branding is a hit with hipsters and the company won 2016 Large Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival.
In the 1920s, cars were still a luxury and people had to buy with cash for the most part. General Motors created the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, or GMAC, which aimed to put more drivers in cars, financing 4 million vehicles by 1924.
By the early 2000s, the company had loaned out $1 trillion for car loans and home mortgages. The subprime mortgages thrust the company into financial trouble in 2008 to 2010, and it relied on $17.2 billion in government bailout money to keep its doors open.
Ally Financial After
In 2010, GMAC rebranded itself into Ally Financial, with the auto finance segment becoming Ally Auto and focusing on auto loans for all auto makes as well as RVs.
The company now offers banking services, credit cards, wealth management, home loans and refinancing. But Ally’s rebranding didn’t stop with a friendly sounding name change. The company is known for its commercials featuring interviews with kids that hearken back to “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”
Thanks to its rebranding, the company’s stocks are making a comeback, with a slow but substantial rise from $1 in 2009 to $27.89 on Feb. 22, 2018.
Check Out: The Best Online Bank of 2018 — Ally Bank
Jack in the Box Before
It didn’t take long for America to fall in love with a hamburger restaurant with a grinning clown jack-in-the-box presiding over the drive-thru. By 1979, people at more than 1,000 Jack in the Box restaurants were speaking into the faces of the mascot.
The company rebranded in 1980 with a more adult-oriented menu and a highly publicized commercial that blew up the clown. The restaurant’s rocketing success screeched to a halt in 1993 when more than 700 cases of E.coli — including four deaths — were traced back to 73 of the chain’s locations.
Jack in the Box After
The company’s fictional owner, Jack, debuted in the company’s commercials beginning in 1995. With an oversize ball-shaped head and rapier wit, Jack lured customers back to enjoy adult-themed menus. Jack’s likeness roamed the streets on 32 million promotional antenna balls, and the restaurant has remained strong ever since.
Worst Company Makeovers
Sometimes, company rebrands turn out to be utter failures, leaving the business to struggle out of an even deeper financial pit. Check out these makeovers where companies ended up “shooting themselves in the foot.”
RadioShack has been around since the 1920s and was “the place” to buy the latest electronic gadgets such as CB radios in the 1970s or — briefly — the earliest models of mass-produced computers.
As IBM, Apple and Dell changed the game, RadioShack lost its identity and struggled to find a new one. Offshoot stores like Incredible Universe, Video Concepts and Computer City rose and fell, and the company thought it was time for a major rebrand.
Trying a hip new rebrand as “The Shack” in 2009, RadioShack alienated its hobbyist customers with the unsavory billing and failed to attract the young, trendy crowd it was after. The company filed for bankruptcy twice in 2015 and 2017 and has since closed thousands of stores — all but 28 of the 5,200 stores it operated as recently as 2014 remain open.
Dove launched their Dove Beauty Bar in 1957 to give women an alternative to soaps that dry the skin. After a 2004 global study revealed that 98 percent of women around the world wouldn’t describe themselves as beautiful, the company followed up with the Dove Self-Esteem Project designed to change the way girls ages 15 to 17 see themselves through educational programs. The project reaches 17 million girls in 112 countries.
As Dove rebranded itself as a social conversation over the past decade, it brought an increased backlash from the public in light of ads that seemed to contradict its body-positive image.
In spring 2017, “Real Beauty Bottles” promised “there is no one perfect shape,” but the increased focus on body image offended consumers, who balked at having to “pick a body type” when buying the product. A second commercial in 2017 offended the public as racist when a model appeared to change from having dark skin to white when using the product.
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Myspace was on the cutting edge of social networking, launching in 2004 and dominating the social networking industry until 2008. Enter Facebook, which made it easier to network with your friends, and Myspace users exited the older social network at the rate of 40 million per month.
The $12 billion company dwindled in value and sold for just $35 million in 2011.
The new owners of Myspace include Justin Timberlake, and the social network migrated into a place where the creative community — the musicians, photographers and entertainers that gravitated to Myspace throughout its history — could connect with their fans.
Although still in operation, the social network sees a relatively small audience of 15 million monthly active visitors, compared to Facebook’s 2 billion-plus.
The SciFi Channel Before
Viewers with a science fiction addiction gravitated to the SciFi Channel, which rolled out staples like “The Twilight Zone” along with a straightforward logo featuring a stylized image of Saturn that let you know exactly what you were getting.
However, searching the channel’s name online brought up the entire genre, not just the channel, prompting a rebrand.
Consumers balked at the 2009 change in name to “Syfy,” which Time declared one of the top 10 worst corporate name changes.
The network expanded to include action movies, reality shows and even professional wrestling, losing more fans along the way. The company’s latest 2017 brand strategy refocused the struggling channel on science fiction and fantasy along with a garish, blocky and in-your-face logo that harvested even more consumer scorn.
Shiny red Redbox kiosks conveniently located in Walmarts, grocery stores and convenience stores helped shutter the doors of Blockbuster and changed how the U.S. rented DVDs. But as more people “Netflix and chill,” the sales of physical DVDs has plummeted.
In 2016, Redbox rebranded its logo, adding a period, removing its stylized arch and crowding the letters.
It also entered the streaming market in 2017 with Redbox on Demand. Unlike the box kiosks where you pay a set price to view any movie, Redbox on Demand movies only “start” at $1.99, meaning you’re more likely to pay $3.99 or more to see something recent. That’s about the same as other online streaming services with no distinct differences that warrant setting up yet another online account.
Click through to read about “all-American” brands whose products are actually made overseas.