Charlotte has seen a lot of rebranding over the last decade or so, from restaurants, to the arts, to sports. Here are 10 big Charlotte rebrands, ranked by perceived impact.
(10) Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse to: Duckworth’s Kitchen & Taphouse
As Charlotte Magazine reported, updates that went through this April at the Park Road location include a name change (from Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse), a craft burger line, loaded nachos with tofu, hand-battered chicken tenders and a build-your-own salad with 38 different toppings. Other changes include a new bar top, booths and small tables.
What to like about the rebrand: The term “kitchen” offers a slightly higher-end vibe than “grill,” but also maintains the warm welcome to sit and stay awhile.
(9) Bulldog Beer & Wine to: Bulldog Dilworth
Bulldog got its makeover in January 2018, when the bottle shop’s offerings expanded from craft beer and wine to include liquor. The space also got extra bar room, a freshly painted interior, and new tables and a new fence for the back patio.
What to like about the rebrand: It offers more of a neighborhood vibe, and even a bit of mystery, sans “wine and beer” description.
(8) Helles & Dunkel Craft Beer and Spirits to: The Union
In April 2018, the doors that belonged to Helles & Dunkel Craft Beer and Spirits at 222 E Bland St. in South End got a new logo: A ring around a dotted circle surrounding the words, ” The Union.” And thus, the local, beer-focused bar owned by Bart Whitney was rebranded and renovated to become a light-filled, airy, neighborhood hangout with cozy living-room style seating and blue tables bordered by bar stools.
What to like about the rebrand: The playful name, “The Union,” is intended to inspire the unification of the area, full of people who have moved from all over the country and just want to hang out and have fun. We could use some more unity.
(7) Bang Bang Bites to: Bang Bang Burgers
The long-awaited sister concept of Bang Bang Burgers — Bang Bang Bites — finally brought sliders and burger flights to 235 W. Tremont Ave., Suite 101 in South End in March 2018, only to be rebranded within the same month to return to the original name and concept: Bang Bang Burgers. The owner was quickly overwhelmed by demands of creating burger flights for customers and shifted back to the original burger program, with some extra specials.
What to like about the rebrand: The company’s swift pivoting. And the community’s overwhelming support of the original Bang Bang menu. As one person commented on Facebook: “If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.”
(6) N.C. Dance Theatre to Charlotte Ballet
This was a huge shift in the arts scene in April 2014. North Carolina’s oldest professional dance company, N.C. Dance Theatre, wiped their 44-year slate clean with the name change to Charlotte Ballet. The company pushed the rebrand with bus placards, flags on Tryon Street, billboards showing off dancers as public personalities and a brand-new website name.
What to like about the rebrand: First, that the dancers have been given more of a community spotlight — many are social media influencers now. Second, there’s no longer any question of what you’re going to get when you go to a “dance theatre” performance in Charlotte. Company directors at the time wanted it to be clear that what this troupe performs is ballet — they may be dancing in tutus, or they may be dancing in street clothes. But they will dance a ballet.
(5) Thunder Road Marathon to: Charlotte Marathon
Our local marathon was officially dubbed The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon in January 2016 after a decade as Thunder Road. While the course stayed the same, the location on the map just became more obvious. And thanks to the continued partnership with Novant Health, the marathon has donated more than $59,000 to Hemby Children’s Hospital since 2013.
What to like about the rebrand: As the marathon organizers put it: “The marathon has always been Charlotte’s hometown marathon; the change simply gave the name to prove it.” We can’t fight hometown spirit.
(4) The Charlotte Bobcats to: The Charlotte Hornets
As the timeline goes, our NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, stuck around from 1988-2002 before moving to New Orleans. When Charlotte was awarded an expansion team in 2003, the owner at the time (Bob Johnson) named the team the Bobcats. Michael Jordan took majority ownership in 2010 and restored the team’s name to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014-15 season.
What to like about the rebrand: This just had to happen for the sake of nostalgia. And for people to feel connected enough to their home team to go to the games. As Jordan told ESPN, “Let’s bring the buzz back, and bring that energy back on the basketball court and make this city proud again.”
(3) Lower South End to LoSo
When the chunk of town south of South End (think Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Queen Park Social area, the “drinking district,” per se) started to be called LoSo circa 2016, you either loved it or you raged against it. Haters continued to refer to it as Lower South End, or even just South End. But businesses started to attach to the unofficial rebrand, with Sugar Creek Brewing Co. hosting a LoSo Block Party and OMB incorporating the term into marketing.
What to like about the rebrand: It offers the same hip familiarity for a portion of South End that longterm NoDa has gifted to the arts district along North Davidson Street. It offers insider appeal — as if you are truly connected to this part of the city because you know exactly what the “locals” call it. Let’s see how it grows.
(2) Bourbon N Burgers to: Ed’s Tavern
On a nice Dilworth day in March 2017, beloved neighborhood bar Ed’s Tavern changed its name to Bourbon N Burgers AND PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS. For the most part, the tavern-style offerings were intended to stay the same, but with a new sign. The business got so much negative feedback from neighbors and patrons that they returned the old sign to its post and relaunched their Ed’s brand by May.
What to like about the rebrand: The return of the Ed’s Tavern name showed that residents can have an impact when they get a little rowdy about something (even if it’s just on social media).
(1) Carolinas HealthCare System to: Atrium Health
Carolinas HealthCare System announced in February 2018 that it would become Atrium Health, a move that would position it to become a regional health care giant vs. a single community hospital.
What to like about the rebrand: It shows that Charlotte can dream big. With the name change, the aim was for CHS to become “one of the largest hospital systems in the U.S., employing 90,000 people and operating 60 hospitals.”
BUT: This shift has been a doozy. It unleashed public wars between the hospital system and medical groups. From doctors with Mecklenburg Medical Group suing the hospital system to break free of non-compete agreements (the request was granted), to a lawsuit over Atrium’s choice to cut a 40-year relationship with Southeast, a long-term supplier of anesthesiologists. Was the rebrand worth the rifts?
What rebrands in Charlotte would you include on this list? Comment below.
Featured photo: Bob Leverone/AP Photo