The Truth Behind Rebrands

Is a rebrand on your mind? Or are you struggling to cut through since the rebrand process? In our latest blog post, Research Manager Jessica Murray shares her insights and top tips for making rebranding campaigns a success.

Here at On Device Research, we’ve analysed a number of rebrand advertising campaigns and our results and experience in this area confirm rebrands are far from easy. In this latest blog post, we’ll aim to give you a summary of what proves successful in rebrand campaigns alongside areas that are generally more difficult with the aim of helping others to navigate rebrand campaigns and ensure optimum success.


Top Tip 1 – Be prepared for the challenge

There’s no denying that rebranding can be challenging no matter how big (or small!) your brand and we can’t continue without nodding to the risks associated with a rebrand. Changing a brand’s distinctive brand assets will always come with a degree of risk. Continuing customer feedback and research is imperative and should be active throughout the entire process to help alleviate this risk. Distinctive brand assets build heritage and equity over time and whether that be good or bad, can take significant time to rebuild, so there should be no expectation of results overnight. Therefore, consideration to understand if a rebrand is the only option should also be given, as sometimes there are alternative ways to overcome brand issues. On occasion however, rebrands are necessary, particularly if the brand has suffered negative press which is not recoverable, or a brand’s future is in question without further action. So, what does our research tell us about the rebrand process and what to look out for?

Tip 2 - Building initial awareness of a rebrand is the easy bit

This is the good news. When reviewing a selection of our rebranding campaigns, it suggested that they generally work well when it comes to driving initial awareness of the rebrand.

In fact, when reviewing a campaign for an energy company rebrand, their initial burst of advertising activity drove awareness by +12%. Similarly, a rebrand campaign for an alcohol brand showed a spontaneous awareness increase of +4% amongst its key target audience.

Data from a rebrand across the entertainment category also demonstrated a +10% uplift in awareness across their key target audience.

So, it is clear then that driving awareness is indeed the easy bit, but what’s the case when it comes to other advertising measurement metrics?

We know that overall brand success is also reliant on the needle demonstrating a shift lower down the purchase funnel too. And this is where our data proves it gets a bit harder.

Top Tip 3 - Concentrate on your lower funnel metrics

Our previous studies demonstrate that rebrand campaigns start to become more problematic at the bottom end of the purchase funnel – i.e., when it comes to driving consideration and purchase intent. This is where the detriment tends to happen most and an area that brands need to be more aware of when considering their rebrand campaign creative make up.

In fact, for a recent rebrand campaign for an FMCG brand, results showed a -6% drop in agreement with the statement ‘It is the only brand I would consider’, demonstrating that the rebrand had opened opportunity for other brands to take marketshare.

Within our ‘likelihood to purchase scale’, this presented an interesting distribution in those exposed to the campaign. The ‘Probably likely to purchase’ statement associated with the brand significantly decreased at -12%, whilst being ‘Unsure’ about the brand increased +5%. Furthermore, when looking specifically at the target audience, results show a +10% shift towards the ‘Unsure’ category. This indicates that any potential customers were actually now less sure about the product following the rebrand.

A similar pattern is seen for a rebrand campaign for an entertainment company.

Usage intent for the brand decreased -7% following exposure to the campaign, and there was a significant movement into the ‘Unsure’ bracket. Again, we see potential customers feeling less familiar with a company following the rebrand, which as a consequence is impacting those lower funnel metrics.

Within further analysis, we were able to continue our assessment of rebrands reviewing a campaign for an energy company.

Following an initial improvement in awareness, a second burst of rebrand activity for them saw no further movement in rebrand awareness and no change in favourability either, demonstrating that in the short term, the positive effect of promoting via advertising was becoming harder to achieve. This then suggesting rebrands will require multiple campaigns over a longer period to ensure brand equity can successfully recover.

Top tip 4 - Learn from others

We also found the following statements (as listed in the brand marketing blog) a good overview of the most common branding mistakes that should be looked out for during a rebrand and worth considering when planning a rebranding campaign1.

  • Not appreciating that changing people’s minds is hard
  • Confusing people with 2 active brands visible on shelf (particularly for FMCG)
  • Rebranding into a new market (this is not a rebrand)
  • Failure to announce the brand in a significant way

In summary, our data suggests that rebrands have the potential to harm a brand and should only be conducted after serious consideration & research. Also ask the question if your brand can perhaps manage with a reposition opposed to a complete rebrand? (FYI – some top tips on rebranding from marketing consultants Mac & Moore are also worth a look!)2

We know that changing a brands distinctive brand assets can set a brand back a long way. However, for those that still go ahead with the process, we would advise to prepare for a long game and plan multiple bursts of activity. One campaign for a relaunch is simply not enough to guarantee success. Figuring out how to create campaigns that drive positive shifts at the lower end of the funnel around consideration and purchase intent is also imperative and this should be a key focus for brands planning campaigns off the back of a rebrand.





Jessica Murray is Research Manager at On Device Research
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Are you thinking or focusing on a rebrand? Would you like to consider a study to help understand the value of a rebranding campaign? Visit for more information.

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