The difference between rebranding and brand repositioning

by Mar 19, 2014Brand0 comments

“In this way, a reposition can follow a rebrand, but not the other way around.”


Too few are aware that there is a difference between rebranding and repositioning. Sometimes, even marketing managers will incorrectly use these words interchangeably. So what’s the difference?

The difference between rebranding and brand repositioning

How a rebranding works.

A rebrand is when a company changes its logo, name, symbol, or design (whether the change is barely noticeable or drastically dissimilar) to create a different marketplace identity.

Starbucks has rebranded by changing its logo several times over the years:


Starbucks rebranding over the years

And even though the change from 1987 to 1992 is barely noticeable, it is still considered rebranding.

On the other hand, most consumers today would not know who Lak-Hui Chemincal Industrial Corporation is, despite owning at least one of their products. That’s because Lak-Hui Chemical Industrial Corporation rebranded by changing its brand name to Lucky Goldstar, only to rebrand again to LG, the consumer electronics brand that most people are familiar with today. This is an example of a more drastic rebrand. If a company changes their website, storefront design or even its employee uniforms, then it has rebranded.

How a brand repositioning works.

A repositioning occurs when a firm changes its brand’s attributes to influence the way the market perceives the brand.

Old Spice men’s care product line was a dog brand, having low market share and low growth. It was under heavy competition (namely from Unilever’s AXE and Right Guard) and Old Spice desperately needed to reposition. Male consumers perceived it as an older man’s brand, which certainly was not appealing to both younger and even middle-aged men. Old Spice repositioned itself with a highly successful marketing campaign that featured series of creative TV ads. They were eye-catching, funny, fresh and appealed to the younger audience that they sought after. These ads, coupled with a new product line, transformed existing market perceived their brand’s attributes. Old Spice went from being a dated, undesirable brand to being exactly the opposite: hip, fresh, attractive and confidence inspiring.

A rebranding AND a brand repositioning???

Here is the tricky bit: rebranding can, in effect, reposition a company. Changing a company’s logo, design, symbol or name can influence the way consumers perceive its brand. Take for instance, Company S changing its name to Company T. This is a simple name change, and thus, a rebrand. But customers previously perceived Company S as “snake-like” and now perceive it at being more angelic because the T resembles that of a cross. In this way, a reposition can follow a rebrand, but not the other way around.

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Meet the author.

Taro Abarbanel, Blog post author

Taro Abarbanel-Uemura

Marketing Strategist

Meet Fortified Marketing’s founder and lead marketing consultant. Taro loves reading fascinating articles on various marketing-related subjects, just as much as he enjoys writing about them. When he isn’t savouring a latte while working on his newest blog post, he can be found at a coffee shop in Ottawa’s Little Italy, or marathoning shows and documentaries on Netflix.

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