Lessons In Rebranding From Teen Movies

In the classic teen movie plotline, a lovable but awkward protagonist encounters a catalyzing change. Often, it’s gaining the attention of the popular crowd, discovering they’re a princess, or just growing up. This internal development offers the character no choice but to embrace becoming who they truly are.

The final step marking their inner growth is a makeover. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking off their glasses and letting down their hair. Other times a team of stylists is involved. But the final reveal is always a climatic moment, completing the character arch and wrapping up the story.

It’s not just awkward teens that grow and change in demonstrable ways. Brands experience inner transformation and growth that can make their logo feel like a clunky old pair of glasses hiding their true identity.

The most effective makeovers and rebrands are the kind that represent substantial inward growth. This is the power of strategic branding. It’s not just an updated logo, it’s about showing changes that are more than skin-deep.

The Makeover Starts With Values

A strong brand starts with a solid foundation of clearly defined values. These values are the soil from which every visible representation of your company springs forth. They have to be specific and they have to be actionable.

When we became the agency of record for the Kansas Division of Tourism, its marketing needed some character development. The former tagline “No Place Like Kansas,” inspired by the movie Kansas is best remembered for, had passed its prime for locals who could argue there are similarities to Kansas in neighboring states. It was time to reimagine how we present ourselves as a state and reshape perception of travel in Kansas.

Our goal in a new campaign was to make way for striking new visuals and fresh messaging that truly uncovered the best that Kansas has to offer.

We started by identifying what makes Kansas what it is. The list is long, but it includes values such as:

Good Food

Being Inspired

Making Memories

Being Welcoming


Local Atmosphere



From there, we concentrated the underlying principles into Kansas core values, such as authenticity, being caring, and inspiring curiosity. These are the ideals we seek to convey in all Tourism communications.

Even before we unveiled the new campaign tagline, To The Stars, we started shifting the tone, font, and colors of the messaging in digital ads to reflect the new direction.

The results were striking and immediate.

Strategically placed Facebook and YouTube ads generated over 230,000 impressions in Kansas and over 397,000 in surrounding states. Website traffic to travelks.com increased more than 40%.

The old glasses were off and audiences took notice.

How to Know When It’s Time For A Makeover

Just like an awkward teenager discovering a reason they have to grow, there’s a number of practical reasons organizations might need a rebrand:

  • Moving into a new market where the name is a hindrance (e.g. Jayhawk Pizza setting up a location in Aggieville)
  • Your logo is so old you don’t have a digital file of it anywhere. (Your business deserves better than photocopies of photocopies)
  • There’s a change in the values and vision of the organization. (Or you never established them in the first place and your brand doesn’t represent you at all)
  • If the brand was super trendy when it was released, there’s a good chance it looks dated now and doesn’t represent your organization well. (Maybe the glitter wasn’t a good idea).

Make The Makeover Work For You

To earn your own makeover magic, start with uncovering your organization’s values.

Ask tough questions of yourself and your leadership. Don’t assume you already know the answers. Giving the process the chance to work often yields unexpected results.

Begin with why your company exists, then ask these questions:

  • What is your underlying purpose?
  • What makes your company what it is?
  • What sets it apart from others in the marketplace?
  • How does your team interact?
  • What unique strengths do you have?
  • Think about a challenging time in your company, what got you through it?

Distill those down into underlying principles, or core values that inform brand elements like tone, color palette, key messages, tagline, and logo. Every choice has to be intentional.

If you could use a team of stylists to help your brand become what it really is underneath, hit us up! We love a good makeover.

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