Can We Stop Confusing Brand Repositioning with Rebranding?


“Pizza Hut has been around for 56 years. After all of that time, the company has decided to change up its brand in almost every way possible. According to The New York Times, Pizza Hut will change everything from its logo and products to its color palettes, uniforms and site. This is the brand’s biggest overhaul in its existence,” Kitchen Daily, November 19, 2014.  Since Pizza Hut is not changing its name, can we just set the record straight?  

REPOSITIONING: Repositioning is changing the way a product is perceived by consumers in relation to other brands or product uses. (Schulman & Kanuk, 2007). Repositioning involves changing the target markets, the differential advantage, or both (Jobber, 2004).

A global example of repositioning is Volvo. Everybody knows that Volvo is synonymous with safety. But in 2011 a lot of brand building was destroyed when Volvo communications shifted from safety first to sleek exterior design, and interior luxury. That was attempting to reposition a brand. Of course it failed and they reverted to the safety message, for a Volvo is a Volvo. Not to be compared with Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

REBRANDING:The act of changing a brand name is called rebranding. It can occur at the product level and at the corporate level (Jobber, 2004). Three of the main reasons for rebranding are: merger or acquisition, desire to create a new image or position in the marketplace, and corporate strategy changes.

Here in the Caribbean Cable and Wireless rebranded as LIME, an unfortunate name in my native Jamaica, but we’re getting used to it. A far more successful rebranding exercise locally was when PanCaribbean Bank became Sagicor Bank in 2012. Why was it necessary? Because PanCaribbean Bank had only 12% brand recognition while its parent company, Sagicor, had 90% brand recognition.

So back to Pizza Hut. Rebranding? No! Repositioning? It appears so.

Herman Alvaranga is a marketing and sales strategist.



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