Common Rebranding Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

Common Rebranding Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

Common Rebranding Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

All unsuccessful rebrands have one thing in common: a failure to consider their reason for being. Here’s what you can do to avoid this common pitfall…

August 11, 2023

Words by Marbury Team

Photo by Daniel Farò

In the trending aftermath of Twitter’s rebrand, we are all hyperaware of what can happen when transformation falls short. It’s clear that the brand’s change of direction was unsuccessful but why? Why do brands like Twitter, Facebook, Mastercard, and Gap attempt to rebrand but fail? Where did they go wrong? 

While failed rebrands make for a fun conversation and controversy, there’s actually something to learn from these cases. They all have one thing in common: a failure to consider their reason for being. Behind every unsuccessful rebrand is a disconnection from the overarching narrative that built them in the first place. This dissonance manifests in different ways, but the result is always the same—a brand that alienates its supporters and forfeits its vision. 

In this journal post, we will identify the most common rebranding mistakes and show you how to avoid them in your own journey.

Behind every unsuccessful rebrand is a disconnection from the overarching narrative that built them in the first place.



1. Abandoning your core identity

A brand is shaped by what it believes and the stories it tells. When your new brand contradicts these long-held ideals, it creates cognitive dissonance for your audience. They no longer recognize you. It strips away all familiarity, comfort, and trust between you and those who know you. You’re essentially starting from scratch when you leave behind your core identity. 

Does this mean your values can’t change over time? Not necessarily. It is normal for secondary beliefs to shift, but your brand should be anchored by at least one core value. For example, Ben and Jerry’s evolved to become more philanthropic, complementing their primary values of humility and relatability. Social consciousness wasn’t a part of their original brand model, but the transformation worked because it aligned with their personality. It seemed like an effortless, organic addition to their story.  

Imagine if Ben & Jerry’s suddenly valued luxury, opulence, and competition… it would be a jarring transition. They would no longer be the smiling, friendly faces that we’ve grown to love. It would be a different brand altogether. 

If you’re in a position where your primary value has shifted entirely, and you can’t reconcile it with your current narrative, it’s critical that you navigate this with an expert. There are ways to execute it well, but it takes a lot of intentionality. We don’t recommend tackling this change on your own. Inquire here to explore your options and make this transition as smooth as possible. 


2. Lack of audience consideration

When we’re in the heat of inspiration, we have a tendency to consider only what we want. This is where many brands go wrong. They design what they think will look fresh, modern, and on-trend without taking the time to ask whether it resonates with their audience. They assume that because it worked for other brands, it will work for them. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Your audience is the gatekeeper of your success. If you love your branding but your audience doesn’t resonate with it, you’ve missed the mark. A well-constructed brand is one that speaks to your ideal clients’ values and desires. In order to make that happen, you need to do concentrated market research to understand their buying psychology. What other brands do they interact with? Why are they not connecting with your current branding? What do they value? What are they attracted to visually? You should only move forward with your rebrand if you can confidently answer these questions. 

A prime example of a brand that did this well is Dunkin’. In 2018, the company rebranded from Dunkin’ Donuts to just Dunkin’, a rebrand that was led and inspired by its audience. The brand states that they’ve been on “a first-name basis with its fans long before the introduction of its iconic tagline, ‘America Runs on Dunkin’,’’ with customers around the world naturally and affectionately referring to the brand as Dunkin’.” So, when the rebrand launched, it was an easy and welcomed change. 

The lesson? Allow your customers to be your inspiration.


3. Rushing the process

The impulsivity of Twitter’s rebrand was a large part of its controversy. While fast action and forward motion are often rewarded in business, they should be avoided in branding. Moving thoughtfully gives you an added degree of intention and quality that benefits you long-term. It also gives you space to prime your audience for the transition, something that’s essential for every rebrand.

Priming your audience means teasing the transformation well before it happens. Again, Dunkin’ did this well by strategically repositioning itself as an on-the-go coffee brand ahead of its name change. It slowly pulled away from its origin product, donuts, and became Starbucks’ number one coffeehouse competitor. So, it made sense when the brand officially launched its just Dunkin’ campaign. The switch was several years in the making. 

So, when you’re executing your rebrand, consider how you can warm your audience to the change. Start subtly by changing your messaging, re-emphasizing your values, and gauging audience response. Go into the process with an open mind, trusting that the vision may look different than you imagined. Move slowly and do everything with intention.

These are the three common rebranding mistakes we anticipate and avoid when crafting a client’s brand. By becoming aware of these challenges, we can be more intentional about our processes and produce high-performing results. We encourage you to explore our Work page and the rebrands we’ve created over the years. Inside each case study, we share the thought processes, inspirations, and techniques used to bring the brand to life. 

To learn more about our rebranding process, click here to inquire. We look forward to collaborating with you on this next iteration of your brand.

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