When a Rebrand Isn’t a Rebrand at All
The recent decision by Long Island Iced Tea Corp to change its name to Long Blockchain Corp is a rare example of a company’s rebrand making national news. It’s also a rather odd chapter from the branding playbook. Anyone wondering why need look no further than the firm’s stock, which instantly skyrocketed after the announcement. Companies and Orange County Marketing agencies may be asking what lasting growth, if any, can be expected from such a dramatic, illogical rebrand?
I’ve just checked their investor page and it’s true. The East-Coast beverage company Long Island Iced Tea Corp has decided, in an apparent attempt at a pun, to change its name to Long Blockchain Corp, leaving the rest of us to ask “Why?” and marvel at how high their stock price surged.
Why indeed. Although it’s anyone’s guess at this point, this rebrand, or marketing strategy, or whatever you want to call it, has a good chance of doing more harm than good for the longevity of the company. That’s because successful brands have a life of their own. Nothing would have stopped the owners of Long Island from creating a new company to develop blockchain tech, if they had wanted to, but that isn’t what happened. This is, apparently, a pivot away from soft drinks to cryptocurrency. Bad news, if you were a fan of the company’s refreshing juice/tea blends.
What Long Island did, in effect, is kill its brand, and the coming weeks and months will tell us if it will receive any lasting gain from that drastic decision. What’s obvious, though, is that this rebrand wasn’t undertaken for the typical reasons a brand chooses to change its name. The change definitely gave it a big surge in publicity, but that interest is artificial: it’s piggybacking off the existing hype surrounding cryptocurrencies, which, in our book puts it in on the level with Kendall Jenner trying to single-handedly defuse the nation’s racial tensions with a can of Pepsi (Thankfully for them, PepsiCo didn’t go so far as to change their name to Social Justice Co).
Stories like this get to the heart of what branding is—and isn’t. A good rebrand should re-establish a company’s story, so that it perfectly communicates the essence of what that company offers the world. That is what all good branding agencies aim to do. By this standard, the Long Island decision has essentially accomplished the exact opposite. Before, everybody knew they made Long Island iced tea; now, nobody can be quite sure what they will end up doing.
Time will tell if Long Island Iced Tea—err… Long Blockchain Corp. will indeed do as they say and, “Leverage the benefits of blockchain technology” to become the crypto currency powerhouse its investors are hoping for (if current trading is any indicator, confidence has already begun to drop—it’s lost about half of the stock value it gained from the announcement). Worse still, the SEC could yet take action against the drink company, as it has with other dubious pivots toward cryptocurrency. For a marketing strategy, it’s quite a gamble. Until proved otherwise, though, in the eyes of this Orange County marketing agency, it’s safe to call this opportunistic rebrand out for what it is: not a rebrand at all. At worst, it’s a shameless ploy to artificially inflate stock prices—at best, just half-baked marketing.