In most cases, “re-branding” helps the branding company more than it helps the branded company — which you’ve given great examples of. If the consumers liked the brand, changing it makes them mad. Why? Because they liked what it was, and when companies “re-brand” it’s like telling the consumer that their opinion didn’t matter. If a consumer didn’t like the company in the first place, a new logo (or name) isn’t going to change that.
Here’s the part too many corporations don’t seem to understand. Yes, there is huge power in a strong brand. No question. But it’s not the corporation that determines what the brand represents, the consumer does that. McDonalds can pretend to be “healthier” all they want — the consumer still knows it’s crap food eaten in a hurry or because the kids want it, or we don’t feel like cooking. No one is fooling themselves that McDonalds is a smart dietary choice.
Likewise, when a consumer decides that a brand “fits” them, and then the corporation changes the brand, they have just told the consumer that whatever they “loved” about the brand wasn’t good enough.
It’s one thing to simplify a logo, as Starbucks has over the years. It’s entirely a different thing to throw out what the consumer grew attached to and start over. That should be done with full knowledge that it amounts to starting over because you’re going to alienate the people who liked the “old” branding.
Fyi, the part about the straw was spot on. Consumers don’t really know what a logo even looks like and can’t recreate it, but they know it when they see it.