09 - 06 - 18

The Worst Ever Rebrands

Rebrands are a milestone that nearly every company will encounter sooner or later in its history. In today’s increasingly image-driven world, a brand’s identity will undoubtedly be used by customers to make snap judgements. Therefore it’s crucial to have a distinctive and representational design that resonates with potential customers.

When is it the right time for a rebrand?

For a company going through a major expansion, a rebrand would be a crucial step to ensure the look and messaging reflect the new changes in services. Typically over time brands inevitably date as trends change, a rebrand and refresh will often be the answer allowing the business to be taken more seriously whilst allowing the business to continue expanding into more aggressive markets.

Rebranding an established brand is no easy task and can be either an evolution or revolution of the existing brand. When done right the investment really pay off, however, when it goes wrong it can be a PR nightmare as brands are often subjected to negative criticism and public outcry. Below we look at 5 of the worst rebrands of recent times, Oops.

No.1 Mastercard

MasterCard's original logo was one of those logos that should have just been left alone. MasterCard decided to rebrand a few years ago and things didn’t quite go to plan. Often a brand is modernised and simplified in the rebranding process with the goal to make the logo iconic. However, in MasterCard’s case, the new version did the opposite and increased everything: drop shadows, glows, bevels and gradients, leaving us with a somewhat chaotic and unrefined look. Mastercard eventually back-pedaled in response to the negative feedback and brought back the old logo. The new one (perhaps justifiably) paid the price and is now only used in business communications.

No.2 Pepsi

Pepsi is no stranger to a rebranding. In fact, over the past hundred years or so, they've rebranded its company logo countless times with varying results. In 2008, Pepsi released the latest version of their logo, the circular icon was said to resemble a cheeky smile and was accompanied with a revolting and dated looking typeface. Pepsi still uses this logo on their products despite being subjected to strong negative criticism from consumers and branding experts alike following the rebrand.

The estimated cost of rebranding the entire Pepsi company was said to be $1.2 billion over 3 years. The design agency fees for this logo mark was said to be coming in at $1 million, not bad work if you can get it.

No.3 Gap

Gap's rebrand a few years ago is probably one of the most memorable examples of a rebranding disaster. Gap launched the new logo and did so with no warning. The original Gap logo, a design that had served the brand for more than 20 years, disappeared completely without a trace.

This decision wasn't met with a positive response, consumers took to social media sites including Facebook and Twitter to demand that the old logo get reinstated. Gap performed possibly one of the fastest branding turnarounds of all time and reverted to its original design, just six days after putting the new logo out. What was the cost of this six day rebrand? An estimated $10 million.

No.4 Netflix

A few years back as the Netflix brand was starting to rapidly expand, it was foolishly announced that the company was going to divide itself into two, Netflix and Qwikster. NetFlix was to remain the DVD mailing service whilst Qwikster would be a dedicated online content-streaming service. Customers struggled to understand the move and described the decision as confusing and pointless. Thankfully within a few months, the CEO decided to listen to criticism and reverted back to the original branding. The consequences of this rebrand were the initial loss of 1 million subscribers, thus affecting the market and a 50-point drop in its stock price.

No.5 Kraft

Kraft is one of the biggest food and drinks companies in the world. When they revealed its new brand identity in 2009, the design community went crazy. The original logo was simple, strong and globally recognised icon whilst the new one used a combination of dreadful fonts (including comic sans) and cliché swooshes. The new logo was so bland and generic that eventually, the food giant relented and six months later, pretty much reverted to its original logo. No word on how many millions this must have cost them, but it can't have been cheap.