Rebranding Stories that Made Waves in 2011

Rebranding was a popular topic in 2011, and many companies undertook significant rebranding initiatives. Some of those rebranding efforts were successful and others had trouble gathering consumer buy-in. Fortunately, there were more successful rebranding initiatives in 2011 than failures in terms of building positive consumer sentiment.

The ill-fated Qwikster brand launched by Netflix, which I discussed in my Top 5 Branding Stories of 2011 article, ranks as the biggest rebranding failure of the year. Let’s take a look at five other rebranding efforts of 2011 that made waves throughout the past 12 months.

1. Starbucks

starbucks logo old new2011 started off with a bang in terms of rebranding when Starbucks revealed a new logo in January that left out one very important element — the words Starbucks Coffee.

However, this rebranding represents the pinnacle of branding success. When a logo can stand on its own without the brand name, that brand element has reached a level of recognition that signifies deep brand loyalty and brand equity. Brands like Apple, Nike, and Playboy are a few of the other iconic logos that have such deep value that names aren’t required. They have meaning to consumers without words.

For Starbucks, the new logo positions the brand for future extensions and expansions, which will offer new audiences the opportunity to give meaning to the logo.

2. Overstock.com

overstock new logoOverstock.com surprised consumers in early 2011 by dropping every letter from its brand name but the first one. The new O.co could be seen everywhere by June 2011, including on the O.co Coliseum in California where the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Athletics play.

The rebranding of Overstock.com was highly strategic and came as a result of positive growth. The company no longer focuses on selling overstock merchandise only. Today, the company sells a wide variety of merchandise and continues to expand.

This is a rebranding that needed to be done, and is a great example of niche online businesses evolving to become so much more. First it was Amazon, and now O.co. It’s a trend that is expected to continue well into the future.

3. Ivory Soap

ivory logoIvory Soap makes it on this list of rebranding stories that made waves in 2011 as an example of an important logo design trend — the use of a simple sans-serif font.

As shown in the image above, the new Ivory Soap logo isn’t an example of creative genius, but it is an example of a trend that’s being seen in logos in all industries.

For brands, a simpler logo is expected to be easier to apply to a wide variety of products, services, formats, and purposes. However, a bit of brand personality is lost when logos are simplified like this.

4. Google Chrome

chrome logoIn a step that goes against logo design trends of recent years, Google redesigned its Chrome logo to move away from the Web 2.0 look.

While the new logo isn’t a complete departure from the Web 2.0 design trend, it does eliminate some of the 3-D effects that have been so over-used lately.

For a web-based brand, it’s surprising to see this change. You can see the difference between the old and new logos in the image above. This new logo is certainly far more flexible and adaptable, which bodes well for its use in future Chrome brand extensions and expansions.

5. Petco

petco logoPetco launched a rebranding effort this year that brought a new logo and tagline. The new Petco logo follows the simplicity trend mentioned above in the Ivory Soap example where a simple sans-serif font replaced the previous typeface. The new tagline also shows a fairly minimal change having simply added a word.

Take a look at the image to the left to see the old and new logos and taglines.

Petco makes it on this list as an example of a rebranding effort that undoubtedly cost a lot of money, effort, and time, but the final result brings little added value to the table.

AYTM surveyed our consumer opinion panel about the new Petco logo, and a simple problem still exists for Petco which this rebranding effort hasn’t fixed. Consumers can’t differentiate Petco from its primary competitors. 22% of respondents to the survey stated that the new logo and tagline made them think not of Petco but of one of its competitors such as PetSmart, 1-800-PetMeds, or another store.

Even with a new logo and tagline (sort of), it’s still going to take a significant investment in advertising and brand marketing to help consumers be able to differentiate the Petco brand from its competitors in 2012 and beyond.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.