The rebrand roulette:

Updated: Apr 5, 2018

How Pop Up Installations retain loyalty in a diverse consumer landscape

Here at Curious Jam we’ve gone on a rebrandathon from our previous incarnation, a full tilt rebrand if you will. We can tell you first hand that this is not a decision the team took lightly – total website overhaul, redesign, connecting with existing and new clients to bridge the transition and numerous other things. That, and all our emails have changed, which feels like the end of an era.

Rebrands place a strain on both the brand and the consumer. If they’re not thought through, then they’ll fall through. We’d like to explore the inherent risk and reward of a rebrand campaign from our own perspective of what we can offer you to elevate a rebrand beyond the sum of its parts. It’s the perfect opportunity to harness the power of the pop up installation to smooth the move.

A short history of backfired rebrands

In a brand landscape that is forever expanding, to develop a new product or service is fast becoming an ever-increasing challenge. In the face of tightening wages, consumer uncertainty and immense loyalty to long favoured brands, pushing or repositioning your brand in the market needs some serious strategy. As we’ll see below, getting it wrong can cost you a lot more than lost revenue.


What are the risks? Well, if you’re an established company, without a doubt you can quite easily wipe out any sustained gains in market traction with a poorly thought out strategy.

Netflix’s attempt to split their business model into two with the short-lived Qwikster platform is one of the best examples of a poorly coordinated evolution of a household brand. Even when you are a corporate entity with a global reach things can go badly wrong for the most simple reasons. In the case of Netflix/Qwikster it was simple – effectively you had to sign up to a totally alien service (Qwikster), which bore no relation to the established brand, if you wanted to stream your films. The net consequence of Netflix’s folly was a loss of custom and a PR nightmare, in tandem with a not insignificant amount of money being blown on a logo and brand campaign that never really got going in the first place. The fall out was so bad that the CEO of Netflix publicly apologised, so deep was the damage done.

Haven’t times changed? Businesses are surely way ahead of the curve now?!

Yes they have, but there are still issues surrounding how large companies interact with their customers/user base.

Rebranding should involve the direct input of the consumer - there’s no getting away from it, the consumer now expects this as a given. Large companies have faced consumer bafflement of late - Tropicana removing their famous logo from their orange juice and replacing it with a minimalist design was perhaps one of the worse missteps in recent memory.

Tropicana sales plummeted by over 20% when the change came into being. Why? Their customer base had no idea that it had even happened. Having also changed the typeface, the carton ultimately looked like a generic supermarket own brand, rather than the eminent and familiar premium brand that consumers instinctively recognise and respond to on reflex. $140 million dollars in lost sales and two months post rebrand, the packaging was reverted to the original design. A costly misstep? You could just as much argue that it was an opportunity missed.

Why do rebrands need a bespoke approach?

That’s simple - consumers crave consistency.

Rebrands are, by their very nature, disruptive to how consumers and service users perceive what was once familiar and trusted. Reassuring consumers that it’s still the same product that they cherish falls far short of the required strategy to ensure a smooth transition.

Like anything in life, they like their brands to deliver as described and as the consumer perceives them. Successful brands inherently aim to reflect the values of their consumers. Anything, no matter how seemingly miniscule, that may compromise this ideal spreads doubt and in some cases fear. Social media abounds with “bring back” style campaigns. If you neglect to inform people that your product now looks or acts differently then you are playing with fire. There is very little worse than an inferno of angry emojis that instantly clog your carefully cultivated Twitter feed as you struggle to stem the tide of revulsion if your brand has changed beyond recognition. We may think that these changes are small but to the consumer they are a tectonic shift.

Trust in your brand evaporates – people look to jump ship. Bemusement and uncertainty clog the blogosphere as people vent their anger at a decision.

Give the consumer a sense of being involved

As businesses, we need to remove the uncertainty factor. In essence, in the consumer worldview your audience feel (and we would argue are entitled to) a sense of ownership in your brand journey. Can they have their say on any changes? Have they got the full picture?

Transparency from a business is a valued attribute – having the capacity to involve your tribe of followers is even more critical. No, we’re not talking about shareholders ;-).

A brand, no matter how well positioned in the market, relies on the emotions attached to it by the consumer in order for loyalty to become ingrained and retain that notion of “We’re in this together”.

Providing an experience that people will remember strengthens the ties to a brand, reminding people why the brand resonates with them and opening the window on the brand for new recruits.

Developing a full rebrand experience – going beyond the obvious

A very important question needs to be asked:

“Why are you rebranding this?”

That’s the first question your followers will have. They need a sense of reassurance but also an understanding of how your brand has developed. What does the product stand for? Do I feel included? Do I feel that I can interact with the brand? Do I want to interact with the brand? How do I do this?

Engaging directly with your customer base and finding new audiences is a somewhat overbearing process in a busy, multi-sensory world. In the connected age, there are a myriad of ways to reach the public. How different can you be as a company?

You can send countless email funnels, go crazy with web ads, take out print ads and send reps far and wide spreading the word but this is a shotgun strategy at best. It’s a strategy that lacks direction and purpose. These methods are no substitute for an approach that is immediate, reactive and involves the brand buying public directly.

Brands need direct interaction on a sensory and emotional level to stay relevant

Pop Up installations are becoming the most cost effective and measurably impactful methods of marketers repositioning their brands. Creating an installation that draws the public in to explore and interact with your brand leaves a lasting impression on the participants.

Active engagement in any activity leads to a connection with the consumer. With that connection, emotions come into play. Thinking figuratively, juxtaposing a brand in a unique setting can pay huge dividends, particularly if you’re looking to reposition a brand after a troubling time or if you’re moving from a soft launch to a full campaign.

How Pop Ups can build bridges and make a lasting impact

You need only look so far as the Cadbury’s Cream Egg café that opened last year and the Cream Egg Camp, that took a five-week residency in London this year, to see how this can be achieved for a nominal outlay.

Having replaced the Cadbury’s brand milk chocolate that surrounds the iconic treat with something different, the public reacted with fury. £10 million in lost sales meant that the brand had to take action to restore confidence.

Some bright spark understood the issue needed a robust approach and possibly one of the most convincing about turns in modern consumer confidence came into being. A pop up Cream Egg café suddenly appeared in Covent Garden and it soon became a destination despite its temporary status. The notion of having tea with a Cream Egg was rather novel to the public and they lapped it up. They loved the novelty experience, yet it didn’t feel tacky because to all intents and purposes it was more than an excuse to sell chocolate. People would go there just to explore. The brand had transcended into something else, the chocolate debacle quickly drowned out by Time Out recommendations to go to the café for something a bit different. What more could the public want?

Publicity reversal

The Cream Egg Camp that emerged this year made the national press on the back of the previous year’s pop up. A small charge on the door went to a noted charity – this wasn’t about profiting from last year’s success for the brand, it was purely upgrading the pop up experience to remind people that the Cream Egg was a staple of British culture. It didn’t feel forced, providing a family experience involving photo opportunities and social media shares over a five week period.

The impact of this pop up campaign cannot be underestimated – not only did it banish the bad vibes it practically repositioned the brand in a matter of weeks, giving a springboard for future exposure

(much of it courtesy of free press) and left a lasting impact on the consumer, both new and returning.

In a world where people are bombarded with advertising which is mostly ignored and at best passively engaged with, a pop up event retains the human element to the brand and the human need to interact.

Do something striking that resonates with the consumer!

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