A company has a good brand, recognized all over the world and sold in the hundreds of millions why would they want to change their name, their image or their marketing direction?

Remember when Coke became New Coke? I switched to Pepsi and never went back.

Changing a brand can be a disaster as Coke found out when they lost considerable customers to Pepsi.  Changing the name of a product can truly be risky because it creates the illusion of turmoil, change of ownership; maybe the product changed kind of stuff. If you are going to change the name of a product at least make it meaningful to the product.

A company CEO will be the first to tell you that the company brand recognition is one of the biggest company assets and the basis for the company’s reputation. CEOs today are becoming more brand-conscious, as the CEO of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith said: “Maintaining this reputation and its brand image is a top priority for me, since it is one of the most valuable things the company has.

Take some recent changes to the product Electrosol; it became Finish, a ridiculous name in most marketing people’s mind with the silly references to diamonds that seems to be geared to the masses without brains. As Electrosol said recently, “FINISH products are the same ELECTRASOL® and JET-DRY® products that you know and trust, now backed by the power of the world’s #1 dishwashing brand.”

Stuart Elliott from the New York Times references an email from James Watson, the Marketing Director for Finish that confirms they are doing the rebranding to consolidate the various names of products into individual global brand entities.

Brinks Home Alarms rebranded itself to Broadview Home Security. If you are like me when I see an armoured car going down the street I say there goes Brinks whether it is or not. Why would anyone change the name of a household/business classic? Let’s change Wells Fargo while we are at it. Broadview Home Security announces on their website that, “Our new name reflects our growth and better represents all we offer our customers, but what we stand for remains the same. Building on more than 25 years as Brink’s Home Security”. Let’s come back to Broadway in 5 years and see if their strategy worked or backfired.

There are several reasons to rebrand an existing product

  • The world is getting smaller so a product sold worldwide may want to be consistent and reduce costs
  • Maybe the brand is worn out and needs refurbishing, hard to think of one here but maybe Aunt Jemima pancake mix comes to mind
  • Mergers happen and good companies get swallowed, how about Canadian Airlines being swallowed by Air Canada
  • Maybe the product has suffered a debilitating setback and needs to change the name to find new customers. Remember the Jack-in-the-Box health problems. It’s a wonder they recovered. On the other hand Maple Leaf Foods in Canada weathered the storm last year by being open and transparent, fixing the problems and gained respect for their brand
  • To capitalize on new media, Youtube, Social media and the internet in general.

Just some ideas to make you wonder the next time you see a giant conglomerate make big changes.

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  1. I agree with you and having worked for a company named FAG, I can tell you from experience about the strength of a globally recognized brand, but what about the brands that seem to lose their way? A good example of this is Saturn. Remember when GM created Saturn it was designed to be an alternative to buying an”import” brand. But then it became a”different kind of car” I guess for a different kind of consumer. Throughout this time they seemed to be having an identity crisis. In the end, they started to produce some pretty decent vehicles, but by this point the consumer was so confused as to what they were trying to deliver as a brand. Sadly, Saturn will disappear at the end of this year, but I often wonder why it lasted so long with such a muddled philosophy.

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