When It's Time For A Change: Lessons In Re-Branding

To understand the thinking behind major brand redesigns, it is crucial to evaluate the strategic mindset behind the change. Did the redesign come about as a solution to a tangible problem or capture a new opportunity? Or was it merely change for the sake of change? 

For brands considering a redesign of their own, identifying and cross-examining the business context before pulling the trigger on a brand redesign is crucial. Failing to do so can cost millions of dollars and your brand’s reputation.  Just ask the folks at Tropicana. 

Why are some redesigns more successful than others? The following are examples of recent CPG redesigns, the business context from which they arose, and why they worked:

1.Attach the brand to a popular, well-known product: In 2012, Kraft Foods made a decision that took the grocery world by storm: it was splitting its company into two. The snack division became Mondelez International and the North American grocery business became Kraft Foods Group. Reacting to the division of the two companies, Kraft adopted a new visual identity that played to the company’s history and heritage. When the redesigned products rolled onto shelves, consumers were not taken aback because what they were seeing was not entirely new. Consumers recognized Kraft’s new branding from the blue boxes of mac and cheese many either grew up eating or feeding to their kids. However, imagine if Mondelez had become the grocery business and Kraft the snack business. A Mondelez Macaroni and Cheese box? Now that would feel like an entirely new product, even if nothing inside had changed.



By strategically linking the identity of Kraft Foods Inc. with a wildly popular product where the branding was displayed most prominently, instead of with a product with its own distinct identity (like Oreo), the company was able to create the illusion that nothing had changed. Consumers were able to easily adapt to the subtle change when they were picking up a Kraft product and not mistake it for something else. 

2. Consider the consumer’s history with the product: In 2013, Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, announced that it would be updating the Doritos brand. The reason for the update? Doritos had different packaging design depending on where you were in the world. In fact, before the redesign, there were 25 regional variations of Doritos packaging. Hornall Anderson was tasked with unifying these various designs into one cohesive global identity. The new design plays to subtle psychological cues that would appeal to the target audience, but most importantly,  remains familiar to consumers.

Perhaps PepsiCo learned from the disaster that was Tropicana and approached the redesign of Doritos with strategic care.Analysts believe that PepsiCo’s successful snack category is helping offset a struggling beverage division. A successful partnership with Taco Bell, where sales of the Doritos Locos taco have exceeded $1 billion, an acclaimed Super Bowl commercial, and a unified global identity have all likely contributed to analyst predictions that PepsiCo revenues will be increasing through 2015.  By taking into account consumers’ relationship and history with the product, Doritos was able to successfully redesign itself as a global snack leader.

Both Kraft and PepsiCo faced two different situations: Kraft faced corporate restructuring whereas PepsiCo identified a weakness in the global branding of its Doritos product. While through differing approaches, each arrived at the same tactical solution of rebranding.

Kraft’s strategic reaction took into account the company’s history, the already established identities of individual product lines, and consumer’s relationships with those products, while PepsiCo concluded that a single global brand identity was the most strategic solution for Doritos.

By carefully looking at the problem before arriving at a solution, Kraft and PepsiCo were able to introduce updates to their images that felt like natural evolutions of their brands. Where they were truly successful was in demonstrating that marketing disasters can be avoided when the consumer’s perspective is always kept front and center.

Next story loading loading..