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How to Rebrand Your Business Without "Pulling a Miley"

What’s “pulling a Miley”? Well, it’s an attempt at rebranding that has gone very, very, wrong.

I’m sure you’ve seen the new and not-so-improved Miley Cyrus since she’s, unavoidably, been everywhere – on our radios, in our Twitter streams, and traumatizing our eyes with a VMA performance comparative to that of a D-list stripper on her first day on the job.

Rebranding Miley Cyrus Style

From fresh-faced teen star to tongue-wagging train wreck, Miley’s failed attempt at rebranding has just about twerked herself right out of a legitimate career. Learn how you can rebrand your business without “Pulling a Miley.”

What makes her rebrand so shocking? She went from a fresh-faced-family-friendly actress (who made millions off of her legions of devoted Disney-loving fans) to some kind of tongue-wagging-train-wreck version of her former self whom her fans can barely recognize.

And guess what? Her rebrand hasn’t received quite the favorable response she was hoping for. In fact, people are reacting with a whole lot of confusion and a little bit of terror at her drastic transformation.

Still, as your business and/or your personal brand develops and grows, it’s natural that the time may come when a minor – or major – rebrand is necessary. But how can you do it without pulling a Miley?

A rebrand is possible without alienating and confusing your current customers with some kind over-the-top change that shocks your audience. Check out the great tips below that’ll help you pull off a successful rebrand campaign — all while keeping your tongue in your mouth the entire time.

Plan It Out

Before you make any changes to your brand, whether personal or business, you need to come up with a strong, detailed plan, says Christian Muller for Big Girl Branding.

“If your campaign is not thoroughly planned out in advance, you could end up throwing something together, which could cause confusion among your current and potential customers. If [that were to happen] you could end up losing your client base,” warns Christian.

Christian advises that before you begin to create your new image, you should take a thorough look at your company and seriously consider how you want to be perceived not only by your current customers, but your potential customers, and others in the industry.

You should also predetermine what elements of your brand you are going to change, whether it’s your logo, company’s goals, message, culture, or all of it.

If you want to know what happens when you don’t plan out your rebrand attempt, just take a good look at Miley, mindlessly twerking herself right out of a legitimate career.

Don’t Overdo It

Rebranding tips

Shocking your audience isn’t usually the goal of a successful rebranding campaign.

Maybe your fans aren’t connecting with your conservative brand and you think by spicing things up you’re going to finally win them over. This may be true, but if you’re heading in a completely different direction than you were before, it’s also a very risky move to make.

Instead of just going all balls-to-the-wall with your rebranding, why not make slow, subtle changes to see if your current audience reacts favorably first. This could be mixing in some controversial topics on your blog, switching up the language used in your social media posts to show a slightly edgier, lighthearted side to your brand, or taking a more fun, informal tone with your email marketing.

If you notice that your audience seems to dig the changes, then you might want to consider taking it further. What you have to remember is this: If your audience doesn’t like the brand you’ve developed – or the one you change it to – you’re not going to be successful. Being mindful of what they respond to, and what they don’t, is going to be key to retaining your current customers and gaining new ones.

Miley can definitely be used as a cautionary tale of what happens when you overdo a rebranding attempt. Yes, people are talking about her, but as we know, all press isn’t good press. More than that though, people are laughing at this new “edgy” brand she’s created for herself but instead of listening to what her audience is saying, she just keeps taking it further.

Don’t let your brand become a joke. Change can be a good thing but creating some kind of shock-jock brand will not lead you down the path toward a strong, lasting business.

Give Your Customers a Heads-Up

A very important part of your campaign is letting your customers know that change is coming. Christian from Big Girl Branding agrees. “You cannot simply rebrand your company and throw it out in the world without any explanation or forewarning, as this too can cause (major) confusion among your customer base.” (Read: Rebranding Miley Cyrus-style.)

Here’s how to ensure you have a smooth rebranding process according to Lauren Drell from Mashable:

  • “Send an honest, heartfelt message to your customers/users/subscribers explaining the rebrand, why it came about, and what this means for the company and for the consumers.
  • “Promise (and mean it) that there will be no adverse effects on customer service or product quality and reiterate how important your extant fans are.
  • “Be responsive and receptive to complaints and feedback that come your way.
  • “Your customers come first and need to be treated well in order to adapt to the rebrand.”

Rebrand Like a Pro – No Twerking Necessary

Since every company is different, it’s hard to generalize what will work for one and what won’t work for another during a rebranding campaign. Still, be very careful when deciding to make a drastic change as this is when things get extra risky. However, if you have a good reason for the changes, communicate this to your current customers, and you should be able to retain their business.

It’s also important to note that you aren’t ever going to be able to please everyone. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t approve of the new brand you’ve created for your business – and that’s OK. What’s not OK is recklessly changing a brand without knowing if your audience wants or is even ready for a change.

By doing your homework and thinking logically and logistically about your campaign, you’ll be able to rebrand like a pro without pulling a Miley – no twerking necessary.

Have any tips on how to avoid rebranding Miley Cyrus-style? Share below!

Join The Conversation

  • Sociator's picture
    Sep 2 Posted 3 years ago Sociator

    I believe, we marketers, sometimes forget that behind brands, public figures, etc. there are persons. And those persons tend to chase different life goals from financial profits, branding and product placement.

    Miley Cyrus' VMA performance might be a planned rebranding that (eventually) failed, or might be just an act of an artist who wants to represent her art in her own manner... :)

  • Anika Davis's picture
    Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago Anika Davis

    What made Miley’s “rebranding” so controversial and shocking is the direct transitioning of her Hollywood personality; this is because people remembered her as this innocent teen star. It goes the same with your brand. Many customers may not like change, but it shouldn’t stop you from growing your product. As long as it doesn’t destroy its purpose and still lives up to its promise, people will adapt and remain a loyal advocate to your brand.

  • shannonw's picture
    Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago shannonw

    Thanks so much, Dennis! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • shannonw's picture
    Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago shannonw

    That might be somewhat true, but I think it's mostly her -- I can't imagine anyone would tell her to act the way she did at the VMAs. They might have orchestrated the outfit, the dancing bears, etc., but the foam finger stuff, the twerking on Robin Thicke -- all the things that have made her look so ridiculous -- I, sadly, think that's all her.

    I'll go check out your blog post now. Thanks for the comment, Taylor! :)


  • Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago dennybara

    " tongue wagging train wreck" Classic!

    Great post - well written... and funny!

  • taylorclark's picture
    Aug 29 Posted 3 years ago taylorclark

    I tend to think that every move she makes is completely calculated by someone managing her.  I wrote a similar article that you might be interested in checking out, Personal Branding Tips Courtesy of Ashton Kutcher.

    Thanks for the article Shannon!

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