Skip to main content

The Reed College of Media and College of Creative Arts will merge to form the new WVU College of Creative Arts and Media as of July 1, 2024. Get details.

Exploring Brand Evolution


Exploring Brand Evolution

Brand evolution is the continuous adaption and refinement of a brand based on consumer behavior, market demands and trends forecasting. Brands that grow and adapt with their audience are more likely to see long term success and foster long-term, brand loyal relationships with consumers.

Brands can evolve in various ways, from complete overhauls with a full rebrand to making small changes to a logo or visual identity pieces.

Here are some brands who have deployed notable brand evolution strategies and completed successful rebrands:

1. Dunkin’ Donuts

In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts began to roll out their rebrand to become the beverage-first, on-the-go company they are positioned as today. The largest change was dropping “Donuts” from the brand name.

Dunkin’ is the largest baked goods and coffee chain in the world, but they have steep competition in these markets from brands like Starbucks. In order to reposition and compete with rising industry players, Dunkin’ decided that shortening its name and focusing on beverages would be more appealing to the rising-consumer demographic of millennials and Gen Z individuals.

Dunkin' Campaign

The brand created an entire experience around this change, catering towards the demands and interests of younger consumers. Dunkin’ invested nearly $100 million in bringing the rebrand to life with complete redesigns of store layouts to optimize mobile ordering and additional equipment to handle the fulfillment of larger quantities of beverage orders. The marketing campaign efforts revolved around the idea that “Dunkin’” was ready to be on a first name basis with new consumers in an attempt to make the brand more relatable and approachable to new, young consumers.

Risk: Many marketing experts have pointed out that “Dunkin’” has no really meaning as a name by itself if you are unfamiliar with the brand. Some think that overtime Dunkin’ will lose consumers because they did not grow up with the knowledge that Dunkin’ was once known for Donuts and the new name has no connection to their beverage-first sales model.

2. Target

An older case study — in the late 90’s Target was seen as another cheap, discount store. The company was competing with stores like Walmart and Kmart and losing in the marketplace. In 2011, Target pivoted from selling cheap, off-brand items to contracting with designer brands to create sub-lines of products at lower costs.

Target is now the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S., behind Walmart. The brand no longer targets just those looking for off-brand products, but upper-middle class individuals looking for high-quality products and recognizable brand names at bargain prices.


  • Many consumers consider quality in addition to price
  • Consider the value of partnerships with other brands

3. Airbnb


In 2014 Airbnb revealed a complete company rebrand. The old, blue coloring shifted to pink branding and a simple type face. The largest change was the addition of the Airbnb logo symbol, dubbed the “bélo.”

Airbnb’s branding pivot was based on the idea of creating a stronger community around the brand. The brand wanted to focus on connecting people and providing experiences. The symbol is supposed to represent connection and community without boundaries of culture, language or background. The specific shape also reflects the “A” for Airbnb.

The brand also adopted a new slogan, “belong anywhere,” to further emphasize the brand stands for fostering community and shared experience. The brand also launched a creative opportunity for Airbnb site users and creative thinkers to create their own version of the bélo to help showcase who uses the website and the different experiences users can have by using Airbnb to stay new places.

Controversy: A small segment of consumers reported to not understand the new bélo symbol. Many also pointed out they felt that the brand had ripped off the logo of other brands. Airbnb stuck to their decision and developed the create your own bélo campaign to engage the majority of consumers who were excited about the rebrand.

Marketing Communications Online Programs

The marketing communications landscape is constantly changing. Our programs are focused on what is happening next in marketing. Learn more about our innovative programs.

Request More Information

Marketing Communications Online Programs in Data, Digital and Integrated Marketing Communications

Meet the Author

Emily Zekonis

Emily Zekonis
Acquisitions Manager at Oliver and Barney

Emily is formarly a Marketing and Events Graduate Service Assistant for the Marketing Communications Online Programs through the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. She is currently the Acquisitions Manager at Oliver and Marketing Manager at Barney. She is an alumna of WVU's M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and has been working in marketing for over 3 years.

Marcom Today

Marketing Communications Today is a collection of resources for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Learn industry insights through the Marketing Communications Today blog, podcast, as well as Integrate Online.

Subscribe to get the Latest Trends in Your Inbox

Marcom Today