When Marketing Meets the Bizarre: 10 Weirdest Rebranding Moments in History

Branding is what makes or breaks a company; it’s their Hail Mary when all things seem to crumble, and it is what can save them. While rebranding means a fresh start from your original image, it can also tarnish it, confusing your customers about the company’s decisions. Here are ten such examples that seem bizarre when you dig into them.

1. Waitr

MIAMI, FLORIDA USA - 09-26-2021 Waitr advertising material promoting the popular delivery application
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A delivery service company, Waitr, was highly successful back in the day. They generally delivered food between 30 and 45 minutes, leaving their customers highly satisfied with their services. However, they changed their business model entirely, handing everything to private contractors. They also changed their name to ASAP to attract Gen Z and stay relevant. But it backfired, leading to colossal market share loss.

2. Nordic Choice Hotels

Man booking hotel
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The company changed its name to “Strawberry” out of all the terms they could pick to eliminate the long-standing portrayal of being a Choice Hotel franchise. Rebranding hotels can be risky because of their pre-established loyal customers, but changing it to a fruit’s name seems too absurd.

3. Weight Watchers

Indianapolis - Circa August 2020: WW International studio, formally Weight Watchers location. WW offers including healthy lifestyle options such as weight loss, maintenance, and fitness.
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From the list of organizations testing out rebranding strategies, this might not sound as weird, but the reason behind it makes no sense. Weight Watchers abbreviated their name to WW. You’d assume that these were the initials of their title, but nope. Although they wanted to honor its legacy, they thought ‘WW’ would signal brand modernization and emphasis on health and wellness. Does that make sense?

4. Circuit City

Tyler, TX - January 30, 2009: Circuit City Store with Going out of Business sign.
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This tech company changed the title of its PC technician division from IQ Crew to Firedogs. Their employees thought they were pulling a prank and would come out to say April Fools, but it turned out they were really serious. Their tagline was “the intensity of fire with the loyalty of man’s best friend.” Marketing teams need to up their game.

5. Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg
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Let’s take a break from the corporate world and talk about a beloved American rapper who decided to change his already made-up name from Snoop Dog to Snoop Lion for an album release. The funny thing is he used to be called Snoop Doggy Dogg before he left the record company named Death Row. He’s extremely popular, so it kind of worked.

6. British Petroleum

Corfu, Greece - August 03, 2021: Driver refuel cars at BP gas station. British Petroleum Company is an oil and gas company headquartered in London, England.
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How do we cover up our mistakes? We change the company’s name and hope everyone forgets about our blunders. After a major oil spill, damaging the sea floor and killing a lot of marine life, BP felt so apologetic about its oversight that it decided to redeem itself by changing its name to Beyond Petroleum. Yup, you heard me.

7. HBO Max

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One of the most popular rebranding that left consumers angry and confused was when HBO Max decided to drop the HBO part of their name. Users felt that Max was just so generic, and trying to be another drop of water in the sea never does anyone any favors. People felt like someone was trying to take away their childhood brand by letting go of the iconic identity it had established.

8. Hot Topic

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA - MAY 6: Hot Topic store at King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, as seen on May 6, 2017. It is the largest shopping mall in the United States of America in leasable retail space.
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This company used to be the epitome of goth culture, with its entire brand surrounding the grunge aesthetic. After the 90s, being part of the goth community became a smaller niche, and Hot Topic wanted to remain the hot top, so they decided to get rid of that gothic arch entryway, which left so many people offended.

9. Twitter

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In the hall of famous companies changing their names to something generic, Twitter might be the top candidate. With its recent rebranding to one of the last letters of the alphabet, namely X, users were left with a sour taste in their mouths. If the entire point was to get more chatter, Elon Musk did manage to succeed because this was the trending new topic for days.

10. KIA

Minsk, Belarus. Apr 2022. KIA Motors new angular logo on hood of dark grey Kia Rio. Chrome KIA logo close up on dark grey hood, front grille detail
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A very old and infamous car company decided to change its logo and name to something more modern and befitting the current design trends. KIA replaced their title with KN, which was oddly similar to a band named Nine Inch Nails. Some people think there’s a Gen Xer in the marketing team pulling the strings and having quite the laugh.

Source: Reddit.

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