5 Brands that Reinvented the Brand Wheel to Stay Relevant

We all strive each day to stay up to date with the latest trends in order to remain culturally relevant. Brands, just like people, also have to adapt their style in order to keep a pace with today’s changing world.

Check out these five brands that have demonstrated their ability to respond to consumer preference and retain brand relevance.



Many believe the female figure central to the Starbucks logo is some form of a mermaid (including me, until I did some research), but it turns out she is not a mermaid after all. According to Starbucks’ website, she actually represents the mythological figure known as a Siren that served as the founders’ muse as they developed the now iconic logo.

The Siren figure came to represent feelings of romance and creativity, which they wanted to infuse in the brand. In fact, she has become so well-known as the “symbol of Starbucks” that the company dropped the words STARBUCKS COFFEE from its logo on its 40th anniversary in 2011.

Although there were mixed reviews from consumers concerning the new logo, Starbucks Coffee CEO, Howard Shultz, responded confidently; “Give it time . . . I hope that unleashing that energy [of romance and creativity] – that mojo – will keep us (and you) inspired for the next 40 years.”



Ronald Wayne created Apple Computer’s first logo in 1976. The “Newton Crest” depicts Isaac Newton under the illustrious tree where he “discovered” gravity after the proverbial apple dropped from its branch. The outside border reads, “Newton… A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.”

Just a year later, in 1977, Steve Jobs demanded a new logo design. Designed by Rob Janoff, this logo featured the now famous apple shape that continues to symbolize the brand today. The first apple-shaped logo featured a rainbow-striped design (but the colors are not in the traditional “ROYBGV” order).

The rainbow-striped apple was unveiled as part of Jobs’ “Think Different” campaign, which inspired the rebranding effort in the first place. Given that the apple is a universal symbol of knowledge and the rainbow stripes appear in a “different” order, the logo effectively represented the company’s intention to go against the status quo and to “Think Different.”

Nineteen years later, the business was nearly bankrupt. Steve Jobs (who had been off the scene for most of that time) stepped back into his leadership role and once again recommended a logo redesign, which yielded a monochromatic black apple. This rebranding campaign also marked the beginning of the iconic apple image appearing on every APPLE device, a custom that continues to this day. The simpler image conveys the sleek, high-tech image of the brand.

Ever innovating, Apple altered the image (and it’s name – Apple Computer, Inc. became Apple Inc.) once again in 2007. The new “simply white” design and shortened name suggests that Apple products are “crisp and pure.”


In 2013, Wendy’s rebranded its logo and restaurant design for the first time in 30 years. According to Craig Bahner, Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer, it was time to reinvent the logo to represent the innovative and fresh-thinking business Wendy’s aimed to be. With this objective in mind, a new log was introduced.  But it certainly wasn’t a dramatic departure from the original.

The Wendy’s brand is deeply rooted in its history and arguably, would not be as powerful without respecting the tradition upon which it was founded.  As such, the new logo is a simpler, minimalist version of the original.  The words “Old Fashioned Hamburgers” were deleted and the font for “Wendy’s” was changed, but the dominant red color and image of Wendy herself remained.

Company’s rebrand for a variety of reasons, but if the success of a brand is founded in family or personal identity, Wendy’s rebranding initiative may serve as nice benchmark. Go reinvent and stay fresh, but don’t stray too far from the brand’s ancestry!



Do not be mistaken; not all branding efforts are well-received by the public. Enter Tropicana orange juice! As soon as PepsiCo (owner of the TROPICANA brand) changed its carton design in 2009, sales plummeted. Consumers clearly rejected the trade dress, or “look and feel,” of the new and unfamiliar logo and design. After revenues dropped $33 million, the company reverted to the original trade dress of the carton.

According to Peter Arnell, the design company executive that led the rebranding effort, the modifications were meant to create a new energy for the Tropicana brand. Although PepsiCo hoped this would be a successful brand revision, it turns out this wasn’t the time for change. Sometimes, the comfort of tradition trumps modernization.



Microsoft Corporation’s very first logo, which Bill Gates and Paul Allen designed using BASIC programming language, was just that—basic! Not long after the company got off the ground, the original logo was tabled and the “blibbet logo” took its place. A decade later, Microsoft rebranded and rolled out the famed “Pac-Man”-style design. Consumers launched a “bring back the blibbet” campaign but ultimately lost their battle. Today, the blibbet lives on, but only on ancient computers sitting in the Microsoft “halls of history,” and in the Blibbet Burgers still sold on Microsoft’s campus.

In spite of early protest, the Pac-Man version of the brand, with only a few tweaks and taglines, saw the company through twenty-five years of explosive growth. In 2012, Microsoft rebranded once more by adding the WINDOW’s four-square symbol to illustrate the wide range of products the company provides. Only time will tell if this iteration of the famous brand will have the same staying power as its predecessors.

The Takeaway

Be purposeful and mindful when you create a brand identity for your business.  For better or for worse, what it suggests or connotes will have a measurable impact on your business.