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Is Your Brand Getting Stale? These 4 Iconic Companies Turned Lemons into Lemonade

Burberry, Harley-Davidson, Dropbox, and McDonald’s all turned their stale brands into superstars. You can too.

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BY Peter Economy - 04 Sep 2018

Is Your Brand Getting Stale? These 4 Iconic Companies Turned Lemons into Lemonade

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Remember when the International House of Pancakes decided to change its initials from IHOP to IHOb (International House of Burgers)? While some customers were likely very confused by the change, the marketing stunt garnered tons of social media attention and the company achieved its goal: creating a lot of buzz and changing customers' perception of the brand. Instead of being for breakfast only, IHOP shifted focus away from the restaurant's iconic pancakes to burgers instead.

With the IHOP menu now working to move closer to the menu of a grill and bar chain (like Applebee's), numerous competing fast food chains weighed in on the change via their social media accounts. Wendy's burger chain even chimed in, saying in one tweet,"Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard."

Whether or not IHOP's campaign will work in the long run, check out these four remarkably successful rebranding campaigns that did achieve their long-term branding goals:


Remember when McDonald's was considered an unhealthy fast-food choice for those who weren't keeping a close eye on their cholesterol or their waistlines? After the documentary Super Size Me showcased the negative effects of the restaurant chain's fattening foods, McDonald's put in the work to rebrand itself as a healthier food chain. Along with the usual Big Macs and Quarter Pounders with Cheese, you can also find salads, oatmeal, low-fat parfait with strawberries and blueberries, and even apple slices for your kid's Happy Meal.


What was once merely a bland and boring place to put your extra digital files other than on your computer is now a place where you can "put your creative energy to work." Although Dropbox does stand to be a "modern workspace designed to reduce busywork," its most recent brand campaign places value on collaboration, all things creative, and meaningful work.


Harley-Davidson Motorcycle almost went bankrupt in 1985. Today, it is perhaps the world's most well-known motorcycle brand. Accomplishing this required the company to put out a higher quality product and improve its brand image. Says former CFO turned CEO Richard F. Teerlink, "We had a good brand and loyal customers, but we weren't generating a profit because we didn't have a quality product at that point. We had to improve the quality of our product to be fair to the customer. If we hadn't improved the reliability of Harley-Davidson products, the company wouldn't be here today."


During the 1970s, Burberry's iconic check pattern became the "in" thing to wear for members of English gangs, diluting the value of the brand considerably. But when Christopher Bailey became creative director in 2004, the brand transformed its image. With the help of new products like trench coats and swimwear, as well as a few celebrity endorsements (Kate Moss, Emma Watson) Burberry was able to change its brand to one more associated with luxury and wealth.

Any company can rebrand, but it can't be done overnight. If you're ready to shake things up at your own company, be sure to understand your target demographic, then create the brand image that resonates best with those customers.

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