The Best & Worst Rebrands of 2018

Read Time: 10 Minutes

Rebrands are one of our favorite topics of discussion, and 2018 had a ton of them. Some were good, some were okay, and many were just bad. Check out our favorite and least favorite rebrands of the year here.

Rebrands are one of our favorite topics of discussion and debate. Whether we’re baffled by the decision making of a Fortune 500 company or blown away by the creativity & subtlety on a small start-up with huge ambitions, it’s always fun to talk about. For our first team blog of 2019, we’re taking a look back at 2018, giving you a rundown of our favorite and least favorite rebrands of the year.

In this blog, you’ll hear the opinions and insight from our production team, as well as our new production manager, Lindsay. So strap in, you’ve got a lot of hot takes and sharp commentary ahead of you.

Sam’s Picks

Good Re-brand: Century 21

Ok, I realize the controversy over this one is that it’s just trendy and sexy to be sexy – but come on. It’s friggin sexy. And it’s so impressive for a brand to go from the old-school dated, recognizable, ugly brand they had for decades to something this modern-day attractive. This rebrand is beautiful. The other critique I see it getting is that this rebrand is pushing too many envelopes and won’t be fully functional in the long run – but keep in mind this is a real estate brand! They can handle something this modern! This isn’t a bank, or a law firm, or some ultra-scripted, rule following, by-the-book company. They can adjust. They can be more creative and free, and I love that they are taking a chance by doing this.

Plus, they are doing it RIGHT. Just take a look at the whole WEBSITE dedicated to this rebrand: They took their time, worked with a talented design team, and are implementing it well. This looks like my dream client. One that is fully trusting and willing to go the whole nine yards. That’s why this is my favorite rebrand of 2018. Go team.

Bad Re-brand: Dunkin’ (Donuts)

Alrighty folks, listen up. This brand was bad. And then they made it worse. Recognizable? Yes. Creative? Maybe. Ugly as hell? Absolutely. But that’s kind of their thing. Like, if this was branding for a clown store you wouldn’t do anything differently.

Basically, I’m just ragging on their old brand because it’s the same as the new one. This rebrand basically just said, “what if we were the same thing but less?” This new brand is the text message version of the old one. Literally. They have a version of their logo that just says “DNKN”.

PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Treat us like we are more intelligent than that and maybe we can be. That’s all. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

ugh. barf.

Lindsay’s Picks

Good Re-brand: Mastercard

I’m not sure this one counts as a rebrand; it’s really more of a refresh, but I don’t care. I’ve been an admirer of Mastercard’s advertising ever since they launched their now legendary “Priceless” commercial campaign in the late 90s. Their team understands how compelling simplicity can be when done well, and removing their name from the overlapping circles in their mark elevates it to iconic status. When you see that red and yellow Venn Diagram, you know who it is.

Bad Re-brand: Slack

I have used Slack for most of my professional life. I look at it every single day. So it was jarring to unlock my phone one morning last fall and be greeted with what I could only describe as a child’s finger painting, only a bit more refined. And that’s really the best thing I can say about it. At worst, it’s reminiscent of a swastika. And while their old brand was a visual representation of what Slack is — a place for collaboration and conversation — the new mark feels confused and disconnected from the brand identity.

Liz’s Picks

Good Re-brand: Mailchimp

When we were discussing this blog as a team, MailChimp instantly came to mind as my choice example of good rebranding. I would go so far as to say the execution of the rebranding was near perfect.

From streamlining the icon design to totally overhauling the typography and color systems — MailChimp made an incredible visual shift while staying true to a brand that has been around for almost two decades. In addition to the main identity system, their newly-established illustration style helps bring a human quality to an otherwise digitally-dominated ecosystem. Bravo MailChimp, Bravo.

Bad Re-brand: Unsplash

Unsplash’s 2018 rebrand was a huge step forward from their otherwise nondescript camera icon used since their launch six years ago. The updated sans-serif typeface is a welcome addition to the brand, but the abstract geometric logo leaves something to be desired. What I find most puzzling about the rebrand is the lack of continuity between the new brand and the typography used on their site. If you’re going to go through the effort of a logo update, following through on that effort for all platforms and products should be a top priority.

Jon’s Picks

Good Re-brand: Rotten Tomatoes

I watch a lot of movies, and as much as I’d love to say I arrive at every movie-watching decision independently, I actually rely extremely heavily on Rotten Tomatoes. For decades now, the information on their site has been remarkably helpful while the brand & website themselves have been remarkably ugly. That changed this year.

I chose this rebrand because they embraced the trend of simplicity without overhauling who they are. They ditched the outdated quirkiness of the offset letters and the jarring yellow in favor of block lettering, just one offset character, and the color coming from the fresh/rotten symbols. Which brings me to the larger reason I love this rebrand: it was holistic. In addition to the logo itself, they extended this refresh to their iconography, Certified Fresh seal, and social media assets. Gone are the gradients, bizarrely realistic popcorn kernels, and “.com” being a part of the seal.

This rebrand works for me because it was thoughtful but not overthought, and simplistic but not bare. Considering this is their first brand update in 17 years, I think they knocked it out of the park.

Bad Re-Brand: Travel Channel

The Travel Channel rebrand did everything wrong that Rotten Tomatoes did right. First off, let’s start with their previous mark. Was it outdated? Maybe slightly. Certainly not to the degree of Rotten Tomatoes, but I won’t call foul on the rebrand itself. However, I’d like to examine why it worked for them for so long. It’s color scheme and typography are reminiscent of an airline, boat, or train ticket, or maybe even a passport, without being too on the nose. Blue, white, and red are statistically the most common colors on a nation’s flag by a mile, so it doesn’t feel like it applies to only one place. There was a lot there that worked, so playing it fairly safe and just refining what they had would’ve been my suggested rebrand direction.

Instead, they overthought it. Before discussing their misinterpretation of the trend of minimalism, let’s talk color. Not that this is the end-all, be-all for the Travel Channel’s color choices, but there isn’t a single nation on the planet that uses purple in their flag. I don’t know where that arrow is leading me, but I don’t want to go there.

As far as dropping the vowels from their name, I’m kind of at a loss. People have gravitated towards more minimalist branding because its easy to read, it seems sleek & no-nonsense, and feels premium. “Trvl” looks like a brand that couldn’t afford to buy any vowels on Wheel of Fortune. Except, wait a minute, THEY INCLUDED ALL THE VOWELS IN CHANNEL.

I’ve got to relax about this awful rebrand, anyone know a good source for vacation inspiration?

As you can see, not all rebrands are created equal. One of the best (or worst) aspects of branding, rebranding, and brand refreshes is that they’re completely subjective. Unlike an advertising campaign or a website, there is no one metric to judge them by, which is why they’re so fun to examine, praise, or criticize.

The opinions expressed here are completely our own, and you’re more than welcome to disagree. In fact, we invite that discussion! The collaborative discussion of branding is what produces great work. So, be on the lookout for the next Evangalist team blog, where you’ll learn more about what we love and we hate. Until then, happy branding!