Our look at some rebrands that went horribly wrong

Rebranding is a process that plenty of companies go through and more often than not, the rebranding process is a huge success.

When rebranding is done right, it can mean a dramatic increase in sales and at the same time expose their brand to a variety of audiences that previously wouldn't be associated with that company.

On the other hand, rebranding can be an extremely difficult process. It's a lot more than just redesigning a logo or changing the colour scheme; the back bone of a rebrand is being able to convey the correct message that the brand wants to communicate, in more or less the simplest way possible.

To achieve this companies don’t think twice about spend millions of pounds on completely redefining their identity and brand to help appeal to a new audience.

When rebrands go wrong they can be an absolute PR nightmare. Brands are usually subjected to negative criticism and public outcry and in the golden era of all things social media, companies usually come in for a bashing all over Twitter when their rebrand doesn’t go how they expected.

Below, we've rounded up some of the worst rebrands ever so you can see exactly what not to do if you're thinking of rebranding your company in the near future.


It’s safe to say that BP hasn’t had a great time of it in recent years. Back in 2000 they replaced the strong logo that had been associated with their company for over 70 years and replaced it with their new design that took inspiration from the Greek name of the Green sun god. 

The only element of the new logo that had any relation to the old logo was the colour palette. The Greek “Helios” logo set out to symbolise and represent the company’s green growth strategy in the form of the sun but it’s safe to say there’s literally nothing green about drilling oil.

Once the furore about the new logo died down the company caused worldwide outrage with the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill that led to Greenpeace channelling people to come up with their own new logo for BP. Here are just a few of the suggestions:

BP are without doubt one of the world’s largest companies and the likelihood of them reverting back to their original logo and brand identity is miniscule, never mind any of the Greenpeace suggestions for a new logo.

Following one of the largest marine oil spills in living memory its likely BP will be looking to make some positive PR moves or just keeping themselves out of the limelight all together.


Cardiff City
When Vincent Tan took over Cardiff City back in 2012, he decided to change Cardiff City’s brand identity as much as possible, without really giving much thought to any of the club’s fans or the club’s history.

The club had always been known as the Bluebirds, had always had blue kits and always had a blue logo. But when Vincent Tan took over, he decided to change the kit from blue to red, along with replacing the blue bird on the logo to a red dragon. He basically rebranded the whole club from top to bottom. You could kind of see where he was coming from by playing up to the Welsh flag and it’s ever present dragon, but it just didn’t make sense whatsoever.

The Cardiff City rebrand was back in 2012 and it probably couldn’t have gone any worse than it did. Jump forward to the 2015/16 season and Cardiff City were back playing in blue with another new logo, one that’s similar to their logo before the Tan takeover, that does feature a dragon but very less prominent that Vincent Tan had in mind. 

This goes a long way to show the passion and the power that football fans have for their club and one that shouldn’t be underestimated. Vincent Tan believed that rebranding the club from blue to red would help the club appeal to a wider demographic, with Asia in mind. 

Vincent Tan learnt a big lesson when it came to getting his own way and trying to rebrand the club that he had recently purchased. When pushing through this rebrand he didn’t give much thought or attention to the match going Cardiff City fans that were already pumping money into the club week in, week out. They soon made their voices heard and shown that they were far more important than the potential new Cardiff City demographic the owner was aiming for abroad.


At some point during the Christmas holidays in 2010, Gap launched a new rebrand that included a brand new logo design, which they carried out with no warning whatsoever. 

The original Gap logo, a design that had been front and centre for the brand for more than 20 years, disappeared from without a single warning and was replaced with the new logo – the word Gap in a bold font and a square, fading diagonally from light blue to dark blue.

The change wasn’t a mishap, it was permanent – or so it seemed. There was a lot of talk back in 2010 about the new Gap logo following the rebrand. Soon, the internet was alive with activity and it was clear that people didn’t like the new design. Gap responded positively, revealing that their new logo design was in fact the first stage of a crowd sourcing process that allowed them to reinvent the company – many people didn’t believe Gap on this and took the announcement as Gap immediately back tracking on the new logo and not being brave enough to see it through.

To cut a long story short, Gap performed arguably one of the fastest branding turnarounds of all time when they reverted back to their original design. This was just six days, yes six days, after putting their new logo out into the public domain for all to see.

There are many things that can be learnt from Gap’s disaster, one of them being able to have the confidence in the work you’ve put in when it comes to rebranding. If you don’t believe in the work then don’t push it out far and wide. And two, if you do end up pushing it out far and wide, at least give it a week to gage interest before you pull the plug.


Royal Mail
Back in 2001 the Royal Mail announced a new company name and brand: Consignia. No one really knew what it meant and Mike Verdin of BBC News called the new name “A duffer and a howling waste of money.”

One meaning of consign is “to deliver merchandise for custody or sale”.  So in theory, the name fitted with the description and what the Royal Mail stands for more or less perfectly. 

In practice however, people didn’t like it. It was too long, too fussy and it hardly rolls off the tongue. Also people believed Royal Mail to be a great British tradition and the removal of “Royal” from its name took away from what the company stood for.

Shortly after one year with the name, the head honchos and decision makers reverted back to Royal Mail and everything was more or less forgiven and Consignia was forgotten about.

Tokyo 2020
Hosting the Olympics is one of the biggest accolades bestowed on a country and its chosen host city but for Tokyo it’s been a nightmare since the off when it comes to their branding and the design of their chosen logo ahead of hosting the games in 2020.

Seven months after being forced to scrap their previous logo design due to accusations of plagiarism, the organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were forced to scrap their original design and pushed into unveiling a new official logo.

The original logo for the Games was scrapped after its designer, Kenjiro Sano, was accused of basing his emblem on the logo of the Théâtre de Liège in Belgium – and you can kind of see why it was scrapped.

Japanese officials initially rejected accusations their designer had plagiarised the image, which was based around a stylised capital T with a red circle representing Japan’s rising sun, from the strikingly similar motif for the theatre. They soon backed down when the Belgian designer began legal proceedings to block Tokyo 2020 from using the image.

This wasn’t the first design issue that the organisers had faced either, they had to abandon architect Zaha Hadid’s design for its centrepiece Olympic stadium amid spiralling costs and a growing public controversy over the plan.

They then went for a more modest design by local architect Kengo Kuma, but he was later forced to deny claims by Zaha Hadid’s office that he had borrowed elements of his scheme from her proposed building.

It’s all been somewhat of a nightmare for the organisers of the 2020 Olympics but now they’re up and running with their official design, they’ll be hoping things go much smoother and their latest logo design moves forward without any controversy that has affected its predecessors and they won’t have to be rebrand their Olympic logo for a third time.


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