Itching to Rebrand? Read The Cautionary Tale of Piddle First

Piddle's new rebrand

(Allow us to interrupt the Archetype series with this cautionary tale. Oh yes, there is a moral in it)

Received wisdom says that January is the natural time to reinvent yourself, to clear out the old and make way for the new. But if you’re feeling called to rebrand your business or website this year and update your brand positioning, be sure you don’t lose touch with what makes you special.

Once upon a time, Alice did a slightly similar job to the one she does for Inkspiller, but which involved learning a lot about beer. (She still co-owns a shop which sells beer, specifically beer from Dorset).

In 2007 the owners of a 600 year old Dorset coaching house started brewing their own beer at a unit in Piddlehinton. Inspired by the river that flowed through the valley, and it’s slightly silly, typically Dorset name (that part of the world is full of piddles and puddles…), they called their new venture ‘Dorset Piddle Brewery.’

They made beers with cheeky, lavatorial names (‘Silent Slasher’, ‘Cocky Hop’, ‘Pointing Percy’’, and so on) which were firmly rooted in earthy Dorset humour.

Punters and landlords either loved or hated (and in many cases loved to hate) the names and accompanying characters. Jimmy Riddle was a dapper chappy with a straw boater, Silent Slasher a grinning Grim Reaper, and so on. One pump clip blog (yes, that’s really a thing) memorably called the branding ‘execrable’ and ‘just not funny’ but they were nothing if not memorable.

Tourists in particular, encountering the Piddle Valley and accompanying delights for the first time, loved taking home a ‘Dorset Piddle in a Bottle’ for Uncle Bob.

But then one fateful day they were rebranded. Gone were the characters, gone were the silly names, gone, even, was the ‘Dorset’. Now they were just plain ‘Piddle’ (the Dorset roots were nervously flirted with and applied now and again, but with nothing like the previous vigour) with snappy one word beers - ‘JIMMY’ and ‘SLASHER’. Their backgrounds a wild splash of colour, their silly cartoon images swept away by design and a desire to ‘go national’.

A beer called ‘Jimmy’, without knowing it used to be ‘Jimmy Riddle’ is as good as meaningless. Ditto ‘Cocky’. It just sounds odd, and not a in a good, quirky way either.

A situation where you have to refer back to the old brand to understand the new is surely not what Piddle were aiming for.

Predictably retailers rebelled, and Piddle were forced to backpedal (back-Piddle? no, too far…) and offer their bottled beers with ‘Classic’ labels as well as the new ‘designer’ ones.

The Moral of the Tale?

We’ve all seen companies rebrand for the sake of rebranding and lose their authenticity (and the plot) in the process, sometimes with horribly expensive and embarrassing consequences. Remember when Royal Mail spent millions to briefly call themselves Consignia for a year?

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with rebranding per se. If your business has changed direction and your existing brand no longer reflects what you do or who you are, then a refresh of your identity is probably wise. The key is that you don’t lose touch with what made you unique and what got you here in the first place.

Unsure what really does make you unique? The clue is most often in who you are, the way you do things and the way in which your customers see themselves in your story.

PS. If you’re struggling to articulate your difference, define your brand personality, or you want to refresh your messaging without losing your authenticity, we can certainly help. Please just go ahead and book a free 15-minute consultation at a time that suits you, right here:

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