Rebranding for Brand Purpose: How M&M’s Slipped

Adapting to the new desires of consumers can manifest for brands in a myriad of ways, one popular move this week being the shift of brand identity to align with brand purpose.

These rebrands are carefully thought out to reflect the world that has changed in the last few years and the companies that are refreshing are hoping this move will place their values front and center as more consumers take brand purpose into account during the consideration stage.

Both Coca Cola and M&M’s launched new branding this week that featured cleaner lines and less clutter, hoping to show that they are approachable and transparent.

And while a rebrand can be thought out tirelessly by a company’s marketing team, things aren’t always perceived the way they were intended.

M&M’s rebrand focused on the refresh of their mascots, characters that have been featured in just about every package and ad campaign since the 90’s, the modern characters we’ve come to know created in 2012. The rebrands purpose was to align with current values and reflections of consumers.


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And though the intention of this change was to reflect more diversity and a modern world, they have received backlash from the decision, with the focus being on the changes made to the “female” M&M’s. The criticism here is that the green M&M’s change was from high-heeled boots into sneakers and the brown M&M’s heels were changed from stilettos to shorter, block heels.

Gen Z seems to find the change unnecessary, believing the Green M&M to be a confident woman and the change to be ingenuous to the character they had created for her since the 70s.


M&Ms seem to be tone deaf by maintaining social constructs on gender. If they were going to really make a statement on inclusivity, they would look at the definition more holistically - the fact or po (1)

And though much of the criticism may seem like a silly debate, it speaks to how important aligning your brand purpose is to any changes you make to your branding. The main points do not focus on M&M’s ideas of a more inclusive and diverse line-up of mascots, but on the execution feeling ingenuine to that message.

When looking at creating a rebrand, intention is only one piece of the puzzle. Before expressing the branding you think will align with your audience, you must first really know your audience. You need to be asking yourself why you are making a change, who it is for, and how it will impact your consumers.

And in no way should this be a deterrent for rebranding, it is a necessary part of growth. The timing was not the issue with M&M’s, but the execution paired with the intention.