4 Reasons Product Rebrands Fail—And How to Avoid Them

If it’s time for your brand to refresh a key product, here’s a closer look at how to get it right.

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Product rebrands can bring new life to struggling products and keep cornerstone offerings relevant for constantly evolving markets. It’s important that brands periodically update their products to keep current with changing trends. Diving into the process of changing a product is a major investment, and missteps can have dire consequences for your brand. Here’s a closer look at the most common mistakes companies make when rebranding products—and specific steps to help you avoid them.

They’re not dialed into what customers want: A product rebrand is only going to be a success when your changes are based on what customers are looking for. Too often, companies invest in extensive changes in features, packaging, or positioning without understanding what their target audience wants. You can head this off at the pass by looking at the data behind your rebrand. Do you have good information that customers want something different, and do you know what they’re looking for specifically? If the answer is no, spend time on market research and exploring this topic further.

It’s a pivot that alienates key fans: Another unfortunate rebrand error is when you change the fundamentals of a product so much that it alienates your core customers. Again, look at the data. Within the beverage category, there are countless examples of companies changing their formula to “new and improved” that have failed. Die-hard customers didn’t adopt the new beverage, and new fans weren’t interested either. Make sure your proposed changes won’t be shifting what current customers love most about your product.

The rebrand loses your essential differentiator: Every product has something that sets it apart that makes it the product of choice for key customers versus the competition. For product marketers, it’s important that any changes preserve your unique selling advantage. Assess the proposed changes through this lens. Do they bring your strengths further into view? Set you more clearly apart from the competition? These elements are essential to a successful rebrand.

They don’t manage their messaging strategy: Don’t fall into the “new and better” trap. Give customers a thoughtful assessment of why you felt a change was needed, what you did to improve the product or service, and how it ultimately benefits them. Address objections or concerns head on, and have a transparent conversation with customers. This provides them with the context they need to assess whether they like the change.

Rebranding a product can be a huge opportunity to attract new customers, build buzz, and revive a flagging product. However, there are many land mines along the way. Take the time to navigate them carefully, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful rebrand your customers will love.