Brand Makeovers

A company usually goes through a brand makeover for one of three reasons: to broaden its appeal, to differentiate itself, and/or to mitigate damages caused by incidents.

Branding is fundamental for a client to succeed in the business world, for only the ability to differentiate oneself from a myriad of products ensures long-term profitability. As public relations professionals, we understand that branding is about perception and appearance.  What happens when a client becomes too attached to its initial branding?

Rule #1: Be tactful.

Founder Zhena Muzyka

Founder Zhena Muzyka

The original branding for Zhena’s Gypsy Tea was created in-house, and based on the likeness of its founder, Zhena Muzyka.  The company wanted to broaden its appeal and realized its packaging needed an overhaul; it was too busy, had too many fonts, and did not have a polished appearance.  This was not good for a company that wanted to lure customers that would pay premium prices.

In a recent Inc. magazine article, business owner Zhena Muzyka shared her rebranding experience.

Old packaging

Original packaging

[With the original branding] We did whatever we thought looked good.  We used as many fonts as we wanted.

It doesn’t  seem that the company did any in-depth research regarding its audience and what would appeal to its target market when the original company logo and packaging was developed.

With the problem now realized,  Zhena hired Stuart Avery Gold, the former COO of Republic of Tea to give her brand a makeover.

Rule #2:  Do your research

Primary and secondary research is important.  The results provide information that directs strategic communications planning.

Gold noted that 80% of tea consumers are women.

New packaging

New packaging

New logo

New logo

With that in mind, the company logo and packaging were redesigned to give the product an upscale feel.   Three new lines of tea were launched, each targeted to a specific audience.

The results were successful.

Gypsy Tea’s in-store sales have increased 300% since the brand makeover, and its 2009 revenues were projected to be $6 million, an increase of $2.5 million from 2008.

Muzyka admits change wasn’t easy:

The hardest part was being humbled, really accepting what I didn’t know.  I’ve had people say to me, ‘That’s your baby! How could you allow someone else to come in and change everything?’  But it’s not whether you like it; it’s whether the customer will like it.

How would you handle a client that was resistant to change?  What other rules do you think applies when doing a brand makeover? And most importantly, what happens when the client rejects your ideas, or remains steadfast to the old idea?

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3 Responses to Brand Makeovers

  1. srugeris says:

    This is a great blog post, very easy to follow and well written. It was interesting to read that the founder of the company took the suggested change a little personally and admitted she was humbled through the brand makeover. I have never been involved in an industry situation in which an agency I have worked for had trouble convincing a client to re-brand itself. I’m sure it happens all the time, especially if your firm is hired to create an expansive public relations campaign, as opposed to being hired to improve one aspect of their company such as internal communication. If I was to continue the list I might add..

    #3 Consider the long-term. It is important to be sure that the research takes into account how the market and its stakeholders will react to the brand in five, or even ten years.

  2. adouglas says:

    srugeris- It really can be difficult to discuss altering the brand. Many times this is the client’s “baby” that they have worked on for years. Telling a client that they might want to alter their image is something that has to be done delicately! You also have to be prepared with research to back-up why you wish to change or alter the brand

  3. jalbaz says:

    One of the best brand “makeovers” I have seen in the past few years is that of Duncan Donuts. They were falling out of popularity when America become crazed on diets and no carbs… no one wanted to go eat a donut. Instead, they created a great campaign slogan (“America runs on Duncan) which played off the excersise/health aspect and really focused on the ‘great’ coffee they had. It was also a less expensive alternative to the popular Starbucks. Brand marketing is difficult, especially when your name becomes tainted or disregarded, so making over a brand is even harder to do. In-depth research and appealing to the target audience is key along with honesty.

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