Major Rebranding Strategies Kick Off 2012

By Amanda Pecora, Intern

As 2012 begins to unfold, well-known companies are divulging their bold, yet challenging PR strategy of rebranding. Rebranding in public relations can be defined as the creation of a new name, logo, image, marketing strategy, and/or advertising idea that repositions a company in the consumers’ and competitors’ minds. This includes an impact on brand strategy for the product or service a company offers. Some reasons companies rebrand are the need for change against competitors, emerging economical and societal situations, or eliminating a dry or negative image. This past week, I was surprised to see major companies and organizations release news articles on their latest rebranding changes…

Yahoo! has made major rebranding changes this past week as their co-founder Jerry Yang recently resigned and Yahoo! has also decided to replace half of their board of directors. These rebranding changes represent a new start against competitors as Yahoo! seeks to regain their ground as a top online property. This is huge step for the company because it is common knowledge that Google has dominated the digital world lately and Yahoo! just can’t keep up with the social media and mobile changes. Many don’t believe that Yahoo! can create a strategy that is good enough to get back up to Google’s level, but I personally enjoy using the site. Sure, I tend to use Google a lot more, but I would like to see this company rebuild and use their PR team to come up with ways to surprise the digital world. Apple, Google, Facebook… I’m tired of the top dogs and I’m looking forward to some power struggles!

Sony Playstation announced earlier this week that they are changing their online accounts from PlayStation Network to Sony Entertainment Network. Sony has promised that users will not have to develop a new username/password.  This change is the companies’ way to avoid incidents like the hacking of almost 80 million personal PlayStation accounts back in April of 2011. It is also Sony’s way of unifying their games, videos, music and other services into one global network.

After this announcement, I can’t help but wonder if this choice will benefit Sony. Already facing difficulties in competing with the infamous Microsoft Xbox, I can forsee confusion about this adjustment. Consumers hearing about this change don’t see the advantage in changing the name as there is no tangible gain for them. It also isn’t a huge step in preventing computer hacking, besides the fact that the name Sony PlayStation Network can remind users of that PR incident last April. Sony has continued to say since the incident that they have a major plan to unite all platforms of the company and that this is a small beginning step, but it seems very miniscule at this point. We will just have to wait and see what “big” marketing strategies Sony has up its sleeve.

A rebranding strategy was implemented by the huge non-profit organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation this past week as well, although, this strategy was more of an accident. There has been an outpour of comments regarding Komen’s statement of becoming a “pro-life breast cancer charity,” which meant cutting off financial ties with the controversial women’s health service provider, Planned Parenthood. This incident ended up turning into a pro-life/pro-choice political debate and dug the Kormen Foundation into a pretty big PR hole. The outrage and anger over the organization’s decision to alter their slogan was talked about on thousands of news networks. Without realizing the effects of this communication strategy, the Komen Foundation ended up permanently rebranding in the eyes of the public. This was a poorly executed PR approach as executives obviously didn’t plan the public response to this financial change. Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of the foundation, made a public statement reversing her decision, but the tons of money donated to Planned Parenthood, the nasty, negative comments all over the web, and the outrage directed towards Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation makes me think that Brinker was just a little too late.

Rebranding is not something to take lightly. Even though you can’t please every single consumer with your changes, the overall view of the public should be the top priority. Companies like Sony Playstation and Yahoo!, that are trying to top their competitors, need to be cautious as they enter the rebuilding stage. There are still millions of consumers who are attracted to their company and one false move will have them in a huge PR mess like the Komen Foundation. 2012 is only two months in and already full of interesting PR moves for top corporations and organizations. Can’t wait to see what else this year has to offer!

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