Design Teams, Customers and Rebranding

Updated: Jan 3

Written by: Evan Goodfellow


Rebranding Can be Tricky

Rebranding can be a necessary step in changing the trajectory of a company. However, it does come with some measure of risk. Rebranding when done right seeks to take the successful aspects of a company’s service or product and carry those forward into the future, while shrugging off the failures of the past. Problems arise when the management in charge of the change fail to consult and test with the target audience. It seems rather simple, yet time and again you hear of case after case where the management seems satisfied, fails to consult with the intended audience and suffers accordingly. Take the example of the article we ran a while back on Rhode Island’s failed rebrand attempt. We believe that online communities can provide the support needed to make a rebrand go right, as they provide a space for the continual testing of products and services, with the target audience. In an article written by Michaela Mora entitled How to Avoid Rebranding Mistakes, she recounts her time as Director of Research for Blockbuster online and how focus groups proved crucial for the rebranding process.


Mora begins by explaining how during her time at Blockbuster they were seeking to rebrand their online service, emphasizing that the service now had a value added aspect. The company launched Total Access which allowed customers to rent movies online, exchange them in the store and watch those while their rentals came in the mail. Part of the rebranding was to redesign the mail out packaging in the hopes that the new value added service would be differentiated from the old online rental service. The rebrand began by using four design firms to create a new version of the envelope and logo in order to modernize the brand and highlight the new and improved service.


After receiving 200 designs, the next step was to undergo a process of elimination. The management team broke the 200 designs into 30, with these 30 based on pairing main concepts used in the designs. They then ran focus groups to reduce the 30 down to 12 designs, with 3 distinct rebranding approaches possible. Mora explains, “This was still a large number of designs, and the design which looked like a potential winner was the least favorite among the design teams, so we conducted a survey which included a MaxDiff exercise to help us identify a winner and quantify preferences.” This testing allowed the target audience input on choosing the winner.


The Customers Choice often Differs from the Designers

The interesting and somewhat comical conclusion was that the design chosen by the target audience was the one the design teams liked the least. Mora explained how the final design that was chosen met all of the basics of the rebrand, as well as managed to score high on simplicity.  She writes, “The main advantage of this design was that it made brand recognition effortless by combining key elements from the brand people were familiar with. It had the traditional brand colours (blue/golden yellow), it was about movies, and the value message was clear.” This is why having a market research community to test your ideas is so important. The MROC may seem daunting at first but it is far less daunting than coming up with a concept only to have it fail. While the design team may not have been happy with the results, the target audience was happy and that is who you are seeking to please in the first place.


Had it not been for the GM of the time, Shane Evangelist, who wisely decided not to make decisions until testing them upon the target audience, the results would have been drastically different.  Like any management decision made without user feedback, everything comes down to a matter of personal preferences which can cause a quick disconnect with your customers. Rebranding can help or harm your company and that is why it is important to test with your target audience using both quantitative and qualitative research for online communities. We believe that staying connected and running ideas, concepts, products and everything in-between will in the long run save you money, and improve sales. That is why creating a online research community with your target audience is a great way to stay connected and continuously test thoughts and ideas.


If you would like to know more about how an online community can help you, feel free to contact us.


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