Branding Blunders: 5 Giant Rebrand Flops

Some of the worst ideas in ad history

In this ever-evolving digital age of consumerism and communication, good ideas are more important than ever. However, sometimes ideas become stale, outdated, behind the times. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong with a trusted name, vision and/or concept, and yet egos and bad judgment, perpetrated by a growing marketing industry, result in embarrassing (and even costly) mistakes that tarnish an otherwise unblemished company reputation. In the wake of Google’s fancy new look, we came up with some of the worst re-brandings of all time.


BUDGET: $500,000
Apparently, Ontario residents needed to be reminded about the only place they are allowed to buy booze. At least that appears to be the thinking behind revamping the logo for the Liquor Control Board. The province spent half a million dollars to come up with an effective new look—and the results were surprisingly familiar. A minor tweak to the existing font, and there you have it: simple, neat and engaging. But is it worth the hefty price tag?


BUDGET: $20 million (cumulative advertising campaign cost)
Despite the gradual decline in influence and medial presence, the social network and music sharing website refused to admit defeat in 2012. Facing an onslaught of stiff competition, the company launched a rebranding campaign, altering the site layout, tools and the once-iconic logo. The results speak for themselves, as MySpace is as likely to be brought up in conversation today as is AOL.

The Gap

BUDGET: $100 million (approximate cumulative advertising campaign cost)
Launched during the 2010 holiday season with virtually no warning, the globally recognized retailer dropped this doozy of a ClipArt reject on the unsuspecting public. Almost immediately, the overwhelmingly negative response—people found the change to be less disappointing and more laughably embarrassing—was quashed by head honchos who reverted back to the original after only six days.


BUDGET: Undetermined

(Photo by j_lai via Flickr)

Following in the footsteps of The Gap’s worst rebranding ideas of the twenty-first century, the famous juice company (owned by PepsiCo) completely overhauled their orange-skewered-by-a-straw logo in 2009, resulting in a sterile, vertically challenged head scratcher. While it isn’t clear exactly how much the new design cost, losses were estimated to be in the tens of millions before the revamp was scrapped—after less than two months on the market.

The SciFi Channel

BUDGET: Undetermined
One of those rare instances of a much-maligned rebranding that actually manages to yield a profit. In 2009, the creative team at SciFi was given a major task in the hopes of revitalizing the moderately successful satellite television channel. Not only were the fonts tweaked, but also the language. The SciFi channel was reformatted as Syfy. So why all the hate? Apparently, the respelling was made in haste. Syfy is colloquial shorthand for a very popular sexually transmitted disease (sound it out). Regardless, ad revenue and viewership skyrocketed as a result. Who would have thought?

(Main image by Lousch Creative)