The drink formerly known as Lilt

Killing your darlings is a prerequisite in the pursuit of a fresh clarity in purpose

There was quite the furore recently when it was announced that the Lilt brand was to be killed off.

Legions of Lilters (that’s a thing, right?) were up in arms that the brand they grew up with — and probably last tasted in 1992 — was leaving the fridges of newsagents across the UK, to be replaced by the snappily named Fanta Pineapple and Grapefruit variant.

It left fans stockpiling the good stuff before the change came into place, with writer Steve O’Rourke tweeting:


By discontinuing Lilt, Coca-Cola is — in effect — discontinuing my childhood‘ lamented writer Ryan Cougan in The Independent.

Told you they were angry.

It got me thinking, what’s in a name anyway?

Take Sean Combs for example.

Breaking into the music scene as Puffy, he then became Puff Daddy, before shifting gears with the name P Diddy, and then seemingly settling on Diddy.

Since then, he’s also flirted with ‘Swag’, ‘Sean John’, and simply ‘Love’.

Why? Let Diddy tell you why:

‘Can’t nobody hold me down, oh, no
I got to keep on movin’

And let’s get this straight, who’s to argue with his method when at the last tally the producer-entrepreneur was estimated to have a net worth in excess of $900m.

In branding terms, a rebrand — be that a fresh new identity or completely new name — is probably the most emblematic tool in a brand’s armoury, something that sends a signal of real and unequivocal change.  It takes effort, it costs money, and it’s no guarantee of success, but it does demonstrate a desire to move on and evolve, whatever the motivation.

When Labour renamed the party to New Labour, it spoke to a break from the past and a commitment to modernity in their quest to be taken seriously by an electorate that saw them as from a bygone era of politics. They sought to ‘to appeal to “Middle England”‘, the aspirational upper-working and middle class that supported Thatcher but became disillusioned with John Major’s government, which could be persuaded to switch to Labour if they thought it reflected their ideas and ideals.

When DJ The Blessed Madonna renamed herself from the Black Madonna, it was as a reaction to post George Floyd conversations and culturally changing attitudes towards race and in particular the insensitive appropriation of black culture. Something that the original ‘Lilt’ TV ads could also be accused of by the way.

As a name changes, so does the mythology that existed around it begin to disappear, opening up opportunities for new directions and new ideas. Yes, it’ll ruffle a few feathers amongst the hardcore but ‘killing your darlings’ is a prerequisite in the pursuit of a fresh clarity in purpose and promise.

If you really love it, set it free.

So Lilters (yes, I’m making it a thing), bide your time. This could be the best thing that’s ever happened to the carbonated Pineapple and Grapefruit scene, it’s broken free from the ’80s, shaken off its jingle, and is facing into a Fanta future.

It’s become the Diddy of the game, the drink formerly known as Lilt, and that already puts it in some serious good company.

Featured image: Lilt / 1981 TV advert

Chris Jefford, Co-Founder and CEO at Truant London

Chris Jefford has spent his 20-year career working across a range of media and technology roles. Starting his first business at the age of 14, Chris graduated with an Economics degree before moving into technology at the dawn of the Internet in 1998. Father of two and hip-hop devotee, he started his career working for a range of original dot-com start-ups, before settling in adland in 2006 working as the operations lead at Y&R on the Microsoft account.He went on to become Head of Digital at Holler, working with the likes of Channel 4 and Yahoo!, before moving to become Director of Innovation at Saint@RKCR/Y&R, where as one of the first employees, he was instrumental in helping the business grow to become agency of the year. In 2011, he left to start his current business, Truant London, with his partners Dave and Simon, where he is now CEO.

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