Renaming An Established Brand

BR to nike

A change in brand name could be justified if the company’s strategic emphasis shifts away from traditional markets

The foundation for effective strategic brand creation is naming and verbal identity. How about a well-known brand getting a new name? No one should ever take the choice to rebrand a popular product lightly. 

Rebranding is an option for well-known companies for a variety of reasons. A change in brand name could be justified if the company’s strategic emphasis shifts away from traditional markets and towards new ones. Of course, this will only happen if the rebranding benefits the target audience more significantly.

There have been several well-known brand name changes over the years due to rebranding initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, legal concerns, and market repositioning, among other reasons. Take a look at these examples: 

  • Conduent Incorporated was created in 2016 as a result of the split of Xerox Corporation’s business process outsourcing segment. Xerox Corporation is a world leader in document technology and services. While Conduent kept on offering its business process services, including consulting, outsourcing, and transaction processing, the rebranding was part of a larger effort to consolidate and concentrate on key competencies.
xerox to conduent
  • Formerly known as Consignia plc, the national postal service of the United Kingdom rebranded itself as Royal Mail Group plc in 2001. The rebranding to Consignia was controversial and criticised for being confusing and expensive, which led to the decision to alter the name. Going back to the old Royal Mail moniker helped get the postal service back in the public’s good graces.
  • Among the biggest tobacco corporations in the world, Philip Morris Corporation Inc. rebranded itself as Altria Group Inc. in 2003. As part of a larger effort to diversify the company’s revenue streams, it rebranded itself to reflect its expansion into other areas, like consumer goods and food and drink (including Kraft Foods).
phlip morris to altria
  • Canadian telecom company Research in Motion (RIM) was responsible for developing the BlackBerry smartphone. BlackBerry Limited was a subsidiary of RIM. The move to BlackBerry Limited in 2013 was a deliberate move towards concentrating only on mobile software and smartphones since the rebranding brought the company’s identity in line with its most famous product.
  • A pioneer in the weight control industry, Weight Watchers rebranded as WW International Inc. in 2018 from its previous name, Weight Watchers International Inc. The rebranding was a reflection of the company’s shift in emphasis from providing weight reduction programmes alone to encouraging healthy lives that include not just weight control but also exercise, nutrition, and mental health. 
  • Though it has not undergone a thorough rebranding, the acronym “IBM” has replaced the full name of International Business Machines Corporation. As the corporation has diversified its offerings beyond hardware (such as mainframe computers) to include software, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other technological services, this acronym has become the predominant way people remember it. 

Changing a name for an established brand always comes with the danger of diluting the equity that consumers have come to connect with the original name, regardless of the strategic economic reasons for the change. Plus, it’s hard and costly to get your money’s worth in oversaturated “I too” areas. 

Because there are no preexisting connections or equities among consumers, a startup’s brand does not face the risk of losing equity or significance. This is not the case for a well-known company thinking about changing its name. Changing the name of a well-known brand might have far-reaching consequences. 

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