The news of Lyle's Golden Syrup recently undergoing a revamp has attracted much media attention and controversy.  However, this was only a partial rebrand, leaving their famous tin untouched and continuing to bear the iconic image of a dead lion surrounded by bees.  The more modern Lyle’s Golden Syrup products, such as squeezy bottles, now have a spritely looking modern lion's head. 


The fact the partial rebrand attracted so much attention shows the attachment the public can form to a well-known brand, and how carefully any change needs to be undertaken. The classic Lyle's Golden Syrup tin has retained its look for more than 150 years and the decision to retain this legacy product seems sensible from both a consumer perspective and in order to maintain valuable Intellectual Property rights. 


Trade marks can become vulnerable to cancellation on the grounds of non-use, and therefore maintaining some use ensures those valuable rights will not be lost.  In cases where there is a total rebrand, whilst the previous name or logo may not be forgotten by the public, a lingering reputation is not sufficient to prove use and therefore does not justify maintaining a trade mark registration.


It should be remembered that some rebrands are more successful than others, Royal Mail were Consignia for just two years, and some rebrands can result in a hybrid position in the minds of the public (X is still often referred to as Twitter in parentheses, when Prince was just a symbol he was referred to as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. And trying to keep up with Sean Coombs’ monikers is almost a full-time job).


Rebranding can mean making a small update to an existing name or logo, or a complete change, and can be a useful strategy for brand evolution. However, as well as considering the consumer reaction to any change it is important to consider the branding issues such as:

  • Undertaking a trade mark search to make sure the new brand name or logo is free to use;
  • Registering the new brand name/logo in the relevant territories
  • Devising a strategy for dealing with the old brand and related IP – will there be ongoing use, as in the case of Lyle's Golden Syrup, or will all use cease in which case there may be the risk of a non-use challenge down the line?  If there is no use, can or should registrations for the old brand be maintained, and if so in which territories?


If you would like to discuss IP advice for a rebrand please get in touch.