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4 Interesting and Successful Rebranding Stories

Every product needs a rebrand sooner or later. Whether it’s due to underperforming sales, bad reputation, or a combination of both, rebranding can revitalize a product that is no longer connecting with consumers. Finding the right branding strategy for a product can be difficult, which is why there are numerous examples of rebranding failures. Yet, despite the failures, here are four rebranding success stories.

From Bottom Shelf to Top Shelf

In the U.S., Pabst Blue Ribbon, commonly shortened to PBR, is known for being cheap. It is the beer of choice for fraternities across the nation as well as hipsters who drink it to be “cool.” In the Far East it is known as a “world-famous spirit.”

In 2010, PBR launched a new brew in China called Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844, which is the year the brewing company was founded in Milwaukee. This was a different brew from what is offered in the states and is marketed as a world class lager with the company comparing it to Scotch whisky, French Brandy, and Bordeaux wine.

China is the world’s largest market for beer, and Pabst Blue Ribbon took advantage of this by introducing their product in a new market that is unfamiliar with the brand’s reputation for cheap beer. A win for Pabst Blue Ribbon and a win for beer drinkers, I’d like to drink.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Ad from 1911

From Hooligan to Prep

Burberry is a luxury fashion brand in the U.K. that became associated with “chav” (antisocial youth stereotype) and football hooligan culture. In the U.K., this typically means unruly soccer fans loyal to a particular team or club. The association between Burberry clothing and hooliganism was so bad that some pubs banned the clothing line.

This association is attributed to Burberry offering lower priced products and cheaper counterfeit goods adopting Burberry’s style. Celebrities predominantly identified with “Chav” culture wearing Burberry clothing did not help either.

To correct this stigma on the brand, Burberry began offering swimwear and trench coats as well as other products that were designed with new styles than the previous products that carried the bad reputation. To complete the rebranding, Burberry even got high-profile celebrities to endorse and use their products. Burberry’s sales increased and they even began expanding into other countries.

Genius Marketing Campaign Rebrands an Old Image

Old Spice is a brand of deodorant that… used to be different? Do you even remember Old Spice before their crazy commercials? The brand has been around since 1937, but it may be hard to remember what they used to be before they launched a marketing campaign in 2010 titled The Man Your Man Could Smell Like featuring Isaiah Mustafa who would later be better known as The Old Spice Guy. This campaign went viral, and not only was it a brilliant rebrand that made Old Spice relevant to young consumers, but it was also one hell of a marketing strategy.

The strategy included a follow up marketing campaign, “The Response Campaign,” that kept Old Spice in viewer’s minds. Over a three day period, the brand shot 186 videos of The Old Spice Guy responding to tweets from fans and celebrities about the initial marketing campaign. This only capitalized on the virility of the initial campaign. The Old Spice Brand received multiple advertising awards and to this day continue to shoot comically memorable ads, but, most importantly, Old Spice has seen a resurgence since 2010.



Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 and since then has built a loyal customer base, becoming one of the most widely known brands when it comes motorcycles. However, despite this loyal fan base, in 1982, Harley-Davidson was facing economic troubles.

Their product line had stagnated and was offering low quality equipment compared to their competitors, tarnishing their reputation. Recognizing a change needed to be made not only to salvage their reputation but also to save the company from bankruptcy, Harley-Davidson looked at the strengths of their competitors’ products and focused on replicating them in their own product line. They also began pricing their product for younger buyers over the veteran motorcycle riders. The improved product line, along with the Harley-Davidson style, turned into a winning strategy that rebranded the company and returned them to being a top-class company in the motorcycle industry.

While rebranding can be difficult, it’s often the very thing that can save a company. Thoughtful planning and sound strategy can lead to a successful rebranding, and these four companies are great examples of positive outcomes with rebranding.



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