Budweiser’s Temporary Brand Change: A Gamble or a Smart Strategy?

It’s not often that a company temporarily changes its brand. Changing a brand is a huge gamble. It’s a gamble because consumers typically do not like change, becoming accustomed to the look, products offered, and reputation of particular brands. Therefore, brand changes can cause confusion and concern that a product has changed as well. However, Anheuser-Busch has recently taken that gamble.

In May of this year, one of the biggest brewers in the world has decided to try a new tactic to attract consumers. In an effort to spike lackluster sales, Anheuser-Busch announced its intent to temporarily change the brand of one of its most popular beers, Budweiser. Taking advantage of a political year, patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, and the summer Olympics, the company is strategically timing the brand change. The company announced that the temporary change from “Budweiser” to “America” will extend from May to November, when the elections end.

While changing a brand can prove risky, the brewer is banking that consumers will readily recognize the design as Budweiser. Although the words have been changed on the label, the design and colors are decidedly that of Budweiser’s. In fact, at first glance, a consumer would likely associate it with Budweiser. However, confusion may occur when consumers pay closer attention and realize that the name is different. This may lead consumers to question whether it is a knockoff brand from another company or whether the beer itself has changed in taste.

The company hopes that the “America” rebranding effort will appeal to consumers’ patriotism. However, immediately upon its announcement regarding the change, consumers flocked to social media with negative comments, especially given that the company is not based in America. Despite this fact, Budweiser has consistently remained the “All-American” beer, so the idea of rebranding it “America” may not be so far-fetched after all.

Another risk of rebranding typically includes high costs, especially for large corporations. However, Budweiser is one of the biggest advertisers in the America. It spends millions of dollars on advertising each year, spending more than $275 million on Super Bowl ads alone for the past decade. Therefore, it seems its rebranding effort pales into comparison. The company’s rebranding announcement has sparked numerous articles on the Internet, garnering it more publicity with little effort on its part. The more publicity a company receives, the more recognition it gains and the more it remains on the forefront of consumers’ minds. For the actual design of the rebrand, it is likely that the costs are low considering the company is using a recognized label and simply making minor changes, specifically replacing words.

With a continuing decline in sales and increased competition in craft breweries, Budweiser has to try new ways of enticing its customers. According to Forbes, Budweiser ranked #25 among the brands with the highest value in 2015 at $23.4 billion, with sales of $10.9 billion. Therefore, the costs of rebranding will not likely harm the company, making the gamble worth a try, even if it doesn’t generate the returns the company hopes to gain. It will be interesting to see how the change affects sales by the end of November.