Re-branding : Is it always a good thing?

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Yesterday I was going to write this post but one thing led to another and the post merged into something else altogether. So, today I’m back on track and wondering how much it takes for a company to backtrack over a branding decision.

The reason I was prompted to write this post is in light of the new Ask Jeeves character and how he came about for the second time.

Jeeves : Then and Now

Jeeves : Then and Now

A little bit of history is a search engine based on the ability for a user to simply ask a question and receive an answer. You want to know how to make a perfect cuppa or how to grow tomatoes then just ask Jeeves – he’s the man with the answer!

In 2006 the Ask Jeeves character was removed from and was replaced by a simple ‘Ask’ logo in an effort to compete better with Google. When it came out that Ask were planning on phasing Jeeves out there were plenty of people that tried to petition against it but it fell on deaf ears. For three years at least…

This month, in 2009, Jeeves came home after an apparent trip round the world looking for more answers!

A change of mind

So why did the powers that be decide that Jeeve should go in the first place? Well, it apparently came down to Ask looking to be taken more seriously in the Google dominated world and so the new look was aimed to be more serious and less friendly. However, the beauty of Jeeves was in his ‘personality’ and his ‘friendly’ way of answering a users query.

It seems that Ask has backtracked with this and according to their website they have spent the time without Jeeves making the site “more personal”.

What can we learn from Ask?

Of course a company is always going to experiment with their branding over the years but what could we learn from Ask to save us wasting time and save our hard earned branding budget?

  • Listen to your fans – ask about and see what people think of your current brand. If you’re thinking of changing and everyone says ‘No’ then find out why and more importantly, would they still use you if you did?
  • Personality is good – in blogging there is endless advice about keeping your personality and letting it shine through and the same should apply to your brand. If you are a young, fun company you shouldn’t have to go for a corporate looking brand if it doesn’t match your company ethos.

Final comment

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Springer, I thought I’d end this post with one final thought. Look at the two versions of Jeeves above (with modern day Jeeves on the right). Is it just me or does he now have an incredibly smug and very punchable face!?  He looks as if he’s going to try and sell me life insurance or tell me my tax return wasn’t received on time.

He also makes me think all his answers are going to start with the following:


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