5 Major Rebranding Failures and What You Can Learn from Them Katie Lundin | February 27th, 2017
There are lots of reasons that a business may be in need of a rebrand, we wrote about six of them in the article “Six Reasons Your Logo Might Need a Makeover.” If you have decided that it’s time to refresh your brand, keep in mind that giving the customers something new does not always mean they will love it.
Rebranding can be a powerful but tricky tool to execute. When done properly, a rebranding effort can help your business realign with your target audience, embrace a new direction, build consumer buy-in and drive sales. When done wrong, rebranding can, at best, go unnoticed and make no impact. At worst, you run the risk of alienating consumers and causing profits to dive.
So, we’ve gathered together a list of five rebranding failures so that you can gracefully avoid these rebranding pitfalls yourself.
With the halcyon days of gathering around the family radio long past, Radio Shack is no longer a name that conjures images of cutting edge technology. When Lee Applbaum stepped in as Radio Shack’s chief marketing officer in 2008, he sought to distance the brand from its more antiquated roots by rebranding as “The Shack”.
Tech reviewers panned the new nickname. Charlie Sorrel of Wired called it “…an attempt to be down with the kids. It’s almost embarrassing…” while Joshua Topolski of Engadget pointed out that it caused one to “…immediately picture a remote location where very, very bad things happen.” Ultimately, the consumers agreed.
Despite a new focus on wireless technologies in their retail locations to accompany the new name (and a small bump in profits immediately following the rebrand) Radio Shack continued to decline and “The Shack” was abandoned. In retrospect, Applbaum realized that the silly nickname was not their only mistake: “We had alienated the very consumer that had given us that core credibility in electronics.”
Radio Shack had established itself as a resource for DIY electronics enthusiasts and that consumer niche had kept them aloft for years. When they rebranded as “The Shack” they turned their back on those DIY hobbyists to pursue modern tech-savvy consumers. However, the broader tech competition proved too stiff and Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy in February 2015.