Rebranding works … when it does

Rebranding is a tricky proposition. Too many companies call a brand extension a rebranding, which rarely works because the brand owner wants to keep the old position while staking out a new one too. As Ries and Trout taught us MANY years ago in their classic work, Positioning, you can only hold one spot in the customer’s mind. However, while not easy, changing that spot can happen even in today’s global market. A recent example is Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

In my book, It’s Not Rocket Science, I talk about the repositioning of Beefeater Gin in the U.S. vs. its position in England and the positioning of Corona Beer in the U.S. vs. its position in Mexico as two examples of how this can work. Both of those repositionings were accomplished when the world was a bigger place. Closer to home, Shiner Beer repositioned a low-end beer, Shiner to a high-end brand Shiner Bock, but this pales in comparison to what the has happened with Pabst, which is now selling for $40/bottle … in China.

A clever Chinese distributor has picked up the license for Pabst in China and is selling it as 1844 Blue Ribbon in very high-end bottles for $40 a bottle. Apparently the Blue Ribbon name is valuable in China due to their obsession with ribbons and awards.

You clearly won’t find it in cans in China as the brand has been completely repositioned for that market. This appears to be a case where re-brand, re-launch is not followed by resign.

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One Response to Rebranding works … when it does

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