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Rebranding Missteps: Where 'X' and Woolworths went astray and how to get it right

Rebranding is a delicate process of strategy and market intuition. When done right, it can breathe new life and emotional meaning into a brand. But when done wrong, it can feel like a stumble on the world stage – as seen by the rebranding journeys of Twitter's transformation into 'X' and Countdown's pivot back to Woolworths.

From poor execution to questionable timing, let’s take a look at where they might have missed a beat and what other businesses can learn from their missteps.

  1. The 'why' wasn't clear enough: Before 'X' and Woolworths embarked on their rebranding journeys, did they make their reasons crystal clear to customers? Before any rebrand, it's essential to articulate and communicate the core reasons behind it. Instead of hinting, they could have painted a vivid picture of their vision, ensuring it resonated deeply with their audience.

  2. Timing troubles: Woolworths' $400 million rebranding gamble during a cost of living crisis raised eyebrows. The lesson? Always be in tune with the broader societal mood. A rebrand should feel timely and relevant, not out of touch or tone-deaf. Further, businesses need to give themselves enough lead time to plan and deploy the new brand. The execution of ‘X’ felt rushed (literally overnight) and the roll out of the new brand has been haphazard, leading to ridicule.

  3. Underestimating brand loyalty: Despite declining brand identities over the past year (Countdown for its role in food inflation, Twitter in its post-Musk takeover deterioration), customers had built memories and loyalties with these brands. You could even argue that they're both essential services as a mass-market food supplier and the internet's original public square. Instead of abrupt changes, a more phased approach, respecting and acknowledging the past, could have eased loyal customers into the new narrative.

  4. Not bracing for the backlash: Change is a magnet for opinion. Both 'X' and Woolworths faced their share of naysayers. Anticipating potential criticisms and having a proactive communication strategy in place can turn critics into collaborators. They could have been more prepared to address concerns head-on, turning challenges into opportunities.

  5. Was the research robust enough? Behind every rebrand should be exhaustive research. Did 'X' and Woolworths delve deep enough into market trends, customer sentiments, and competitor moves? A more thorough investigation might have offered insights to refine their brand positioning and avoid pitfalls.

In hindsight...

Honestly, rebranding can be a bit of a tightrope, balancing the old and the new with the familiar and the innovative. While 'X' and Woolworths had their challenges, their journeys offer invaluable lessons. By understanding and addressing potential pitfalls, businesses can ensure their rebranding efforts are not just seen but celebrated. If you're thinking about rebranding get in touch with our team, we'd love to help!


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