Have you recently rebranded? Or simply repositioned? In the week that Google became Alphabet we challenge marketers to spot the difference and suggest their best and most needed make-overs.

We enjoyed this recent piece in the Guardian for several reasons.

Firstly, because it’s a list and frankly who doesn’t love picking over someone else’s ‘Top 5’, be it film, food or fantasy-fella/femme-fatale.

Secondly, because we can never resist a good old ding-dong about what our own lists might look like.

But thirdly and much more importantly, we all recognised the opportunity to disemble on the ever-recurring abuse of the ‘B’-word.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t intended to cock a snook (for more on the etymology of ‘snooks’ click here) at the authors of the original piece. Rather, it shines a light on the manner in which the term ‘brand’ has insinuated itself into the common idiom. Not convinced? Take the world of football, which is awash with common idioms (no that’s not a typo). Anyone remember Paul Gascoigne re-branded as G8? How about David Beckham as Beckham 100? Or even Gareth Bale’s adoption of the ‘heart’?

Is it a rebrand…


But before we get ahead of ourselves it’s important to be clear about what is meant by rebrand. A rebrand is generally accepted to be a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity”. A rebrand is Opal Fruits becoming Starburst. Marathon becoming Snickers. Jif becoming Cif. The clue here is in the category – multi-national, fast-moving consumer goods in which brands come and go in the blink of an eye. In the wider world rebranding can be a costly and potentially fraught exercise. Anyone still receiving mail from ‘Consignia’? That’ll be Royal Mail. Who doesn’t hate ‘Monday’? That was PwC Consulting. How about ‘Diageo’ – OK, so you really don’t care and therein may lie the greater truth. Many re-brands are as much about corporate re-alignment as they are consumer benefit.

…or a repositioning?

More importantly however, none of the examples offered in the Guardian article actually rebranded. Some, it may be suggested, evolved their product offering. Others, benefitted from a change in market conditions. Possibly it could be argued that one or two considered and tried to give new meaning to their brand.

And if they had done so successfully they would have repositioned themselves. Repositioning can be summarised as “changing a brand’s status in comparison to that of the competing brands, effected usually through changing the marketing mix”. More simply put, it’s about changing what you stand for.

Having already dipped our toes into the world of celebrity through the medium of football we thought it only fair to do so again in the search for repositioning success stories. Eric Cantona the actor. Joey Barton the philosopher? Alan Shearer the pundit? Hmmmm. And if those don’t quite convince how do you take your Miley/Bieber/(insert Disney teen as appropriate)? Crowd-pleaser or hell-raiser? Nicky Haslam? Posh antique dealer or rock’n’roller? Shane Warne? Beer-swilling sledger or Liz Hurley’s significant other – actually we’re not sure if either of those last two are a good thing. Anyway you get the point.

Same name, different meaning.

So back to that Guardian list. Ask yourself, what do those brands listed stand for? Has it changed? And if it has, is it for the better? And more importantly, was it by design or default? Stella? Still the one of the most heavily discounted beer brands available at a corner shop near you. Old Spice (and we’re not talking Geri)? Will it really be on your next Xmas list? Lego? A triumph of marketing partnerships rather than a conscious market re-positioning? Burberry? Let’s not go back to Joey Barton. Apple? The original ‘Think Different’ campaign was launched in 1997, so hardly an of the moment example?

Over to you dear reader

Of course it’s easy to pick holes in someone else’s list, so we thought it only fair if we offered our own light-hearted attempt for you to do the very same. Here it is. Our top 20 recent re-positionings (we couldn’t agree on 5) We’ve also avoided some of the more obvious Lucozades, Guinesses et al.

The successes:

  1. Aldi: low cost to smart choice
  2. The Mini: swinging sixties to millennial masterpiece
  3. Belstaff: biker blackstuff to fashion must-have
  4. Spitfire Ale: beardy to “booyah”
  5. Halfords: spare parts to free spirits
  6. Grayson Perry: Turner maverick to national treasure
  7. Kale: bottom of the sea to top of the menu
  8. Women’s football: lost lionesses to world cup medallists
  9. Prince Harry: pants-down to people’s choice
  10. Aviemore: snowless skiing to Alpine activity

The jury’s out:

  1. Margate: regeneration X
  2. The National Trust: not just for the WI
  3. Top Gear: stuck in second
  4. The Labour Party: “Hell yeah!”
  5. The BBC: poor reception

Must try harder:

  1. RyanAir: “F*** **f !”
  2. Coke: sweet and sour
  3. Every retail bank: hole in the wall
  4. FIFA: cheque’s in the post
  5. George Osborne(’s hair): budget cut

We’re happy to take it on the chin if you think you can do better. In fact we’d like to see which brands you marketers think should make the cut. And for the most original list, there’s a bottle of recently repositioned champagne waiting in the Muse cellars. You can send us your answers using the contact form on our website here.