The Top 10: Disastrous Rebrandings

·3-min read
<p>Standard Life Aberdeen has a new brand identity</p> (Standard Life Aberdeen)

Standard Life Aberdeen has a new brand identity

(Standard Life Aberdeen)

Jonathan Isaby suggested this list after Standard Life Aberdeen rebranded as abrdn.

1. Consignia. The chief executive announced in 2001: “The new name describes the full scope of what the Post Office does in a way that the words ‘post’ and ‘office’ cannot.” It was abandoned 18 months later. Nominated by Jonathan Isaby and Conor Downey.

2. Monday. Name adopted in 2002 by the consulting arm of PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. Sold to IBM six months later, who promptly dropped the name. Thanks to Stephen Herring, Martin Stott, Don Brown London, Conor Downey, Martin Bacon, Nicholas Beale and Chris Barraclough. Andrew Howard added: “I used to work for a company called FI Consulting. How we laughed at PwC and their new name. Three days later, we were rebranded as Xansa. And we stopped laughing.”

3. Qwikster. Netflix tried to rebrand its DVD business for a few weeks in 2011. Thanks to Hugo Gye.

4. mmO2. The holding company for the O2 brand when it was separated from BT in 2002, until 2005, when it was renamed O2 plc. Thanks to James Strachan for retrieving a hard-to-believe memory.

5. Choco Krispies. Kellogg’s went back to Coco Pops as quickly as decently possible. Nominated by Timothy Stafford.

6. Enco. “Humble Oil, owner of the Esso brand, used the name Enco in parts of the US where it was not permitted to call itself Esso, and thought of adopting it worldwide until someone pointed out that it meant ‘stalled car’ in Japanese. And that, children, is how we got Exxon.” Thanks to Alan Sommerstein for the true story.

7. Aviva. Name adopted by Norwich Union in 2002. Not actually disastrous, but I so admired the way Jeremy Warner, then The Independent’s business editor, replied to a complaint from the company that he had called it Arriva by mistake. He was completely unapologetic and said it was their fault for choosing such a silly name. Nominated by Mike Wood.

8. Cardiff City’s football kit, 2012. A new owner decided to put the team nicknamed the Bluebirds in a red strip and changed the logo from a blue bird to a red Welsh dragon. The fans weren’t having it. Thanks to Simon Cook, Jack Maidment, Andy Woodcock and Tom Joyce.

9. New Orleans Jazz basketball team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979 and called themselves Utah Jazz, which is ridiculous although not strictly disastrous as they went on to have some success. Thanks to Jack Maidment.

10. Voltswagen. Not an official rebrand, but a marketing stunt by Volkswagen in the US, an April Fool prank this year to advertise an electric car, which only managed to annoy people. Nominated by Richard K.

Several nominations of New Coke (1985) were rejected because the attendant publicity and the U-turn to bring back what was briefly called Classic Coke ended up pushing sales higher. The British Airways “World Images” tailfin saga (1997) had several nominations, but did not qualify either.

Next week: Tribute bands, such as Dread Zeppelin (reggae Led Zep covers) and Kings of Leigh-on-Sea.

Coming soon: Well-judged breakaways, a sequel to last week’s ill-judged breakaways (which was inspired by the European Super League).

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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