Rebranding can be divisive option for companies looking to forge a new path. A new brand could alienate longtime customers, yet one that doesn’t fit the direction of a company could be costing thousands of new customers. Sometimes a rebranding is necessary when a company decides to head in a new direction and other times it can be used to correct a trademark that never caught on. In the best cases, the public doesn’t recall the original branding and the rebrand becomes your complete identity. It could make your company a household name or help it survive for over a century. The following are five companies that successfully rebranded.

1. Applebee’s
Applebee’s is now known as the Neighborhood Bar & Grill. This simple moniker tells customers exactly what to expect, a family friendly atmosphere with comfort food and drinks at a reasonable price. Their original name; however, may have left customers scratching their head about what to expect at the establishment. In 1980 T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs was the place to go for a family dinner or to pick up your medical prescription? The name was confusing to say the least and likely left many potential customers driving past the sign when looking for a place to eat. It also had the potential to create frustration for anyone who thought they actually dispensed medication.

2. CVS
Unlike Applebee’s, CVS is an actual pharmacy, yet they shifted the focus of their company when they rebranded from CVS Caremark to CVS Health. The retailer wanted health to become the main product they sold and proceeded to move their candy and junk-food items deeper into the store while ending tobacco sales altogether. Their stores now also feature fully functioning clinics that perform medical exams and administer vaccinations. CVS Health is a successful rebrand that gives a much clearer picture of what the company is hoping to achieve.

3. Denny’s
Everyone knows about the Denny’s Grand Slam, though have they ever had a Danny’s Donuts? The 24-hour breakfast chain used to be all about doughnuts until the owners decided that they wanted to be known for something more. Danny’s Donuts became Danny’s Coffee Shops, shifting their focus to offering the best doughnuts and coffee at any hour of the day. The new name was representative of their expanded dining options, although they hit a snag when they expanded into Los Angeles. Donut Dan’s was a local favorite breakfast chain in LA and the company differentiated itself through a subtle but important rebranding. Danny’s Coffee Shops became Denny’s Coffee Shops and soon after it became just Denny’s to reflect their expansive breakfast menu.

4. Popeyes
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen originally opened as Chicken on the Run in New Orleans, and it had little to do with Louisiana. The chicken was simply southern style and like the restaurant’s name, it lacked any distinction. In New Orleans, the last thing your restaurant can be is bland and Chicken on the Run struggled for months until the company decided to change their recipes and their brand. Chicken on the Run reopened as Popeyes, and the new product was spicy New Orleans style chicken. The name derived from the character played by Gene Hackman in The French Connection, although some people associate Popeyes with the popular spinach eating cartoon character. The company became recognizable, and the chicken became a distinct blend of spices that would set it apart from competitors for years to come.

5. Foot Locker
The F. W. Woolworth company was founded in 1879 and ushered in the age of five and dime stores. Today, it would appear that F. W. does not exist, yet they are thriving as Foot Locker. The change started in 1963 when Woolworth purchased the Kinney Shoe Corporation. Kinney opened the first Foot Locker in 1974 and operated as a subsidiary of the newly incorporated Woolworth Corporation beginning in 1988. The retail store struggled at the end of the century and the last one closed in 1997, yet the company continued to expand its athletic apparel business. Foot Locker became the company’s best-selling brand and in 2001 Woolworth officially changed their name to Foot Locker, Inc. The transition into Foot Lockers is one of the most dramatic rebranding efforts in retail history and is fitting for a company that has managed to survive for over 140 years.

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