Re-branding?

I was implicitly scathing of re-branding in my guerrilla gardening post. I’ve always wondered what the point of re-branding was – same thing, different label – surely people don’t take any notice? It’s the same thing – no-one tries something just because of a new packet do they?

Most evidence suggests yes. They do. Re-branding is a powerful tool. Re-branding an activity or a product can do things that on its own, the activity can’t. It can remove the stigma of the past (prunes are sometimes now sold as dried plums which doesn’t imply constipation…). It can open up a whole new market to people who wouldn’t have otherwise have realised that the such things existed. It can bring people back who had thought that there had not been enough activity to keep them interested.

Though I still fight against the idea of re-branding being so useful, saw it’s effectiveness when I used to work in the school tuck shop. It stocked piles of sweet things, most of which had their determined fans. One boy used to buy a mars bar. Every day without fail. Another twix, another crisps. The vast majority flitted between a few favourites. Sometimes a new sweet would take the market by storm (chocolate covered pretzles – how were they ever popular??!!). The sweet that I remember though is refreshers. (For non-UK readers, refreshers are small pastel coloured sweets that fizz like sherbet.) Refreshers changed their packaging and overnight sales quadrupled. They still didn’t compete with Mars really, or with the fads. But the people who had forgotten it, remembered it and those who hadn’t tried it, did. Refreshers rebranding was an absolute success.

And so too has the re-branding of allotments, vegetables, the environmental movement. The only question is whether this re-branding has been just a change of cover or a washing down of the values and principles (seer the post on greenwashing). A change of packaging is one thing, a chocolate pretzel is quite another.