The name, logo and visual representation of a company are inextricably linked to the very core and soul of its brand. They are the very first touchpoint with the outside world – but not the only components of a brand identity. There’s also a company’s culture and brand strategy, to name just a few. The brand heavily influence the relationship with customers, are a clear distinguishing factor between competitors and are central for building brand recognition among a broad consumer base.
Now it seems logical that changing any parts of a company’s branding should be handled with the utmost care. And yet over and over again, we’ve seen examples where alterations or bigger updates of a brand identity have caused ridicule at the very least. Anyone remember how Gap’s logo change in 2010 only lasted six days? Or how Netflix once rebranded their online operations briefly as Qwikster? Or when PwC Consulting bizarrely rebranded their consulting operations in 2002 as Monday?
A big rebrand could be a costly Gapgate. To help you prevent this from happening or at least to minimise the risk, we have spoken to our Brand Solutions and Insights teams to help you navigate the muddy waters of sparkling brand land. We’ll address several widespread misconceptions floating around the industry and marketing universe. And once we’ve unpacked a few big myths surrounding rebranding, we’ll go through all the different types of, and reasons for, a rebranding. Enjoy!
Are you considering a rebrand or need help finding out if you should? Contact our Brand Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you start: Remember that the logo isn’t everything!
First, let’s quash one of the most tenacious myths around branding: The logo is synonymous with the brand. Well, it’s not.
Instead, a logo is just a small part of the overall branding. Make no mistake: It’s often the most recognisable element. But that’s not all: A brand is the sum of all of the touchpoints that come into contact with current or potential customers. The name, the culture and the style of communication all play a part in the brand. So when we talk about rebranding, it covers so much more than a logo refresh.
Types of Rebranding
Rebranding can take different shapes. Its scale and scope are closely linked to the reason for the rebranding – which we’ll explain later in the article. First, the different kinds:
- Visual Only
Rebranding may be a simple matter of a logo redesign, a font style change or new colors. Freshening up an established brand or adapting the logo to digital media may require little more than a visual identity change.
- Renaming + Visual
More significant rebranding involves changing the name as well as the visual identity of a business. Things such as changes in ownership, company structure, market conditions and legal requirements are some of the drivers of a rebranding with this scope.
- The whole shabam
When the very essence of a business changes, the brand redesign goes way beyond skin-deep as well. Rebranding begins from the core of the business – its vision, mission, and values – and radiates to all of its outward expressions.
Reasons for a rebrand
But why would you be looking to rebrand, anyway? To help you decide whether the current circumstances warrant it and if the time is right, here are some potential factors that might influence your decision.
- Outdated image
Is there something, let’s say, old school about your current brand image? Old font? Dated tagline? Then it’s time for a change to bring everything up to 2020 standards.
- Internationalisation & growth
Are you looking to foreign climes for growth? If your name or branding currently only relates to domestic consumers, then it’s time to change. Take GoEuro, the Berlin-based travel unicorn who, on deciding to expand their travel search service into the US, changed their name to Omio. GoEuro, obviously, wouldn’t suffice for a global brand.
- Bad reputation or negative image
If brands have a negative image, it can be hard to be overturned with just an advertising campaign or some positive PR. Then it’s perhaps time for a complete rebrand. After the documentary Super Size Me, McDonald’s were faced with such a situation, with the film exposing the unhealthiness of their food selection.
Where did McDonald’s go from here? They introduced salads and wraps, and got rid of supersize portions. And, to help promote exercise, they even gave away free pedometers!
- Mergers & acquisitions
The merger of companies means a big rebrand is necessary. The most pressing issue is the name. Do you dissolve one brand and let one take precedence? This happened with the United Airlines $3bn merger with Continental Airlines in 2011. In other cases, however, a new brand emerges. Take EE, the brand formed from the merger of telecom operators T-Mobile and Orange in the UK in 2012. And that’s happening on top of merging the cultures and missions of the organisations – also key parts of the branding.
Making sure your digital and physical presence is consistent is crucial. Do you use the same phrasing and tone of voice across your different channels? Is there a coherent colour palette as well as clear logo format and dimension guidelines? Ensuring you have a standardised system ensures that your brand is rock solid.
- Competition and similarities
Perhaps your brand logo or name is looking a bit similar to another one, which can cause confusion for customers. Case in point: the similarities between the logos of PayPal and Pandora even led to a legal battle.
Are you planning to change your mission as a business? Take Walmart, who didn’t want to be seen as just a bargain supermarket brand. Changing their slogan in 2007 from ‘Always Low Prices’ to ‘Save Money. Live Better’ helped them change this perception to one focused on affordability and quality. And that wasn’t it – they also redesigned their stores and created a fresh new logo.
Importance of market research
Without proper research, a rebrand is a fool’s game. For these bigger changes in strategy and design, always always test within your target audiences to make sure it resonates with them. And before you go ahead with your surveys, make sure you have all the knowledge about your target groups and competition, so you can effectively target the right consumer audience.
If you want to ramp up your Marketing Insights game, get in touch with our marketing expert Insights team!
Other things to consider
The visual aspects of your rebrand are crucial to consider! Colour makes a big impact on a rebrand. It’s important to take a look at the psychology and meaning behind colours – and crucially their effect on purchasing decisions.
But for long-term branding, it’s also key. A study found out, for example, that using a signature colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%, with 84.7% of consumers citing colour as their main reason for buying a particular product.
And think about the logo design, too. Here are some of the big logo trends of 2020 – from swooshes to playful minimalism and broken boxes. Oh and while we’re at it: Here are some more expert tips from our Brand Solutions team for your logo design:
- Always remember that the logo should reflect the overall brand strategy.
- Rebranding isn’t just about changing graphic designs; it’s about making inner transformation outwardly tangible.
- Don’t rebrand just for the sake of a change (it is far too much work and effort to do it correctly.)
And then the nitty gritty stuff, the costs and risks…
A rebrand can have high costs, including lots of time and resources. Is it worth it, if it directs crucial resources away from user acquisition? And then there’s the danger of bad consumer reactions, which could result in losing or alienating current customers. A particularly savage press response could also occur, which will make things even worse. The Airbnb logo redesign, likely one of the most hotly discussed redesigns of the last decade, is one that comes to mind here. They managed to survive, although other brands had to quickly turn things the other way (cough*GAP*cough).
So, how do you avoid these pitfalls? Make sure you have devised a strategy and campaign for the clear communication of your rebranding. Any disconnect between the branding and the business can confuse your customers – and result in lower brand awareness. The latter is inevitable to some extent at the outset, but a long term and not retrievable brand awareness drop is definitely avoidable if played right.
So, don’t fret! While there are risks, there are also big opportunities. All in all, a rebranding could definitely be the right way forward for your business – and send you hurtling into the next decade of growth.