Brand and Rebrand

Customer Miscommunication

Each company has a unique story to tell, and does so through its values, relationships with clients, and marketing. However, those elements don’t always clearly communicate the correct message to consumers. When that happens, it’s time for a change.

Superstar superstore Target recently had this exact problem. On August 4, 2015 Target announced its rebrand of CityTarget and TargetExpress stores to a regular Target. The reason: customer confusion. Customers were not understanding the difference between the smaller stores and the typical suburban size stores.

“It’s about a simplified experience for our guests,” said Erika Winkels, a Target spokeswoman. “It also helps guests understand that you’re not only limited to what’s in the four walls of that store.” (1)

Sound Familiar?

If this sounds like a similar problem your company is having, it’s time for a rebrand.

Determine the problem

What is your current identity? What is and is not working? Analyze the name of your company, logos and tagline, and titles of your products and services. You don’t want to completely overhaul your entire brand, if it is just one element that needs a change. Unnecessary change could be equally as confusing for customers and actually make your problem worse. Once you have determined the problem, or problems, set clear goals for your rebranding strategy and timeline.

Research your target audience

Companies evolve over time, enhancing products and services without adapting the brand image to match. This can lead to a shift in your target audience. Research your current audience, and your ideal target audience to confirm whether they are still the same audience or not.

Brainstorm internally

Don’t keep the rebrand a secret internally. Employees are the biggest brand ambassadors of a company. Let them be a part of the conversation.

Prepare before initiating rebrand

Before rolling out the new logo, make sure your company has support materials and FAQ’s created to help explain your new brand. This will help customers understand why your company changed what it did in a positive way. Even if the change is for the better, customers will still have a hard time understanding why it happened. Simply launching a rebrand with no explanation does not go over well; something Gap learned the hard way. (2)

Rebrand Backfire

In 2010, retail giant Gap decided to surprise the public with an unannounced rebrand during the holiday shopping season. The classic blue box with GAP in all capital letters turned into a sans serif font with an odd blue box clinging to the ‘p’. Without any explanation from Gap, customers were confused and vocal about their dislike for the new logo.  Gap finally responded by saying the new logo design was the first stage of a crowd sourcing process aimed at reinventing the company.

After just six days of criticism from both customers and the design community, Gap reverted back to the original logo. This epic rebrand fail was estimated to have cost Gap a whopping $100 million. (3)

The major takeaway from this important lesson: be transparent with your customers. Customers want to shop at stores they feel trustworthy. Secretly changing one of the main elements of a company’s brand image without any warning does not communicate trustworthiness to its customers.


Article 1: Target to rebrand CityTarget, TargetExpress stores as just Target

Article 2: How to Successfully Rebrand in 5 Easy Steps

Article 3: 10 Rebranding Failures and How Much They Cost