Rebranding a Legacy: When is it a good idea?

POSTED BY Jennifer Woodbery on Nov 17, 2009

We’ve seen it happen more times than not. A renowned brand steeped in consumer trust and rooted in heritage decides it needs a facelift. But too often this fails, as seen with Tropicana earlier this year that resulted in consumer backlash. But there are times when a company is successful in refreshing their brand without compromising their legacy or emotional resonance with their consumers. Hickory Farms is one such example. While Hornall Anderson wasn’t involved with this particular project, BusinessWeek recently contacted us for our insight into this rebrand. Click here to read the full article.

The Analysis: Tastier Times for Hickory Farms

The food retailer is smart to rebrand existing offerings but also to rely on its trusted name and image, says brand strategist Jennifer Woodbery

November 6, 2009, 4:32PM EST

(By Venessa Wong, an innovation and design writer for BusinessWeek)


Hickory Farms' rebranding strategy involves paring back offerings, emphasizing heritage, and increasing attention to corporate social responsibility. Jennifer Woodbery, group director of strategy at brand design firm Hornall Anderson in Seattle, says these are smart moves.

The world's best brands—Coca Cola (KO), Nike (NKE), Apple (AAPL), and Google (GOOG), to name a few—rely on heritage, according to the results of Hornall Anderson's Global Best in Class Brand Audit, which was conducted this year and has not yet been publicly released.

"The dangerous path is when [companies] try to extend the product line," which leads to discontinuity, says Woodbery. "The biggest brand muscle we encourage them to develop is restraint." She raises the example of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which faced backlash when it tried to remake its identity to market to an urban demographic.

Hickory Farms evokes warmth, reassurance, hardiness, sturdiness, reliability, trust, and maturity, says Woodbery, and this is an advantage. In the years following the September 11 attacks, consumers have preferred familiar brands. "There is trust built into familiarity."

Although companies continue to find new ways to reach consumers, says Woodbery, "clients are finding that the new story is the old story."

WRITTEN BY Jennifer Woodbery

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