Top five most successful marketing rebrands in history

Rebranding your business can be full of pitfalls. Not only does it involve a risky revamp of your company’s identity, but knowing how to hit the right tone of voice will either reap rewards or result in a black hole of rebrand regret.

Striking the right balance with a rebrand takes skill and an insight into your customers and stakeholders that will inspire and excite. Here, we take a look at our top five marketing rebrands that have revived businesses and emboldened bottom lines.

1. Burberry – embrace your heritage, but ditch the dull

Despite its 150-year heritage, even this luxury fashion house couldn’t escape a hooligan hijacking. Famous for its red and beige checks and trench raincoats, in the early 2000s Burberry also became synonymous with gang wear. After two English pubs banned anyone wearing this famous fashion designer from entering their premises, Burberry had to take decisive action – revamp to revive.

Under the expert eye of creative director Christopher Bailey, Burberry was transformed from hooligan to hot with an overhaul of its classic fashion staples mixed with the addition of sexier silhouettes endorsed by celebrities including Kate Moss and Emma Watson. The result was a 27% rise in sales and global expansion.

2. McDonald’s – flexibility is key to success

A fan of the rebrand, McDonald’s is no stranger to regularly reinventing itself and arguably none were more successful than its climb from health crisis to health conscious in 2004. Following Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me, which saw the host exist entirely on the McDonald’s menu for a month, the fast food chain had to think fast to undo the bad publicity it received for promoting unhealthy eating and contributing to an increasingly obese population.

McDonald’s makeover included the introduction of healthier options, such as salads and wraps, as well as the opening of its McCafé concessions selling premium coffees and herbal teas.

Since then, McDonald’s has gone from strength to strength with an annual average growth forecast of 4%.

3. Apple – people will always love beautiful things

Approximately 1 billion people are using more than 1.4 billion Apple devices worldwide. However, this wasn’t always the case. In 1997, Apple was facing bankruptcy until Steve Jobs turned things around by utilising the winning formula of reliable technology encased in sleek and eye-catching packaging that everyone wanted to be seen with. A king of public relations, Steve Jobs understood instinctively what people wanted and how they’d react by creating a marketing buzz around each new device and delivering it with effortlessly curated in-store customer experiences. Since then, share prices in the company have risen more than three hundred per cent.

4. LEGO – know your target audience

Known the world over as the most popular children’s toy of all time, it might be surprising to some to learn that LEGO lost $300 million in 2003 after it had sought to expand the brand with the unveiling of new products and designs. Despite its best efforts to promote new, unique pieces, LEGO had forgotten a key element of its marketing strategy – know what your target audience wants. In this case, it was kids – LEGO’s end consumer – who weren’t buying into the brand’s overhaul. Spotting this issue after taking over in 2004 was its CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp who adopted the simple approach of asking kids what they want. The answer? — to build. LEGO instantly ditched the pre-built action figures and newly shaped blocks in favour of basic bricks resembling more complex objects. This success led LEGO to become the second biggest toy company in the world in 2015.

5. Greggs – never underestimate the power of digital technology

Under the watchful eye of CEO Roger Whiteside, Greggs has grown to become the largest bakery chain in the UK. Much of Greggs’ success can be attributed to repositioning itself as a destination for affordable and accessible food that models itself on coffee shop competitors such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee. By cutting out its bland bakery origins, Greggs is now one of the most dominant food forces on the High Street. Alongside this, the company’s digital presence has become renowned for its social feed’s quirky quips, quick comebacks and controversial campaigns propelling it into the spotlight and winning the hearts and minds of customers across the country.

Need help with your rebrand?

Here at PMW, we believe brand transformation starts with a deep understanding of your organisation’s values, as well as a commitment from everyone involved towards the objectives behind the change. It’s also important to work with marketing experts who know how to listen and aren’t afraid to push creative boundaries when needed. Our rebranding work involves a range of talented designers, writers, digital experts, and marketing strategists who know how to deliver award-winning ideas with integrity.

Want to know more about how we develop new brand identities? Look at our past successes, our design services, and full range of marketing services.


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Sally Burfoot
Senior PR Manager

Article by:

Sally Burfoot -
Senior PR Manager

A highly knowledgeable PR expert with more than 25 years’ experience working in the media industry. Sally initially trained as a journalist and cut her teeth on both regional and national news desks before moving across to PR.

Over the years, she’s created numerous successful campaigns for clients including a global aviation company, the British Heart Foundation, builders merchants, and shopping centres up and down the country.

Outside of work, you’ll find Sally either strolling along a beach or jumping up and down at a music gig.

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