Many companies see rebranding as a slippery slope. Even big brands such as GAP and Airbnb slipped up and faced rounds of mockery and backlash. Closer to home, our very own Mediacorp and the newly-minted National Gallery also got flamed big time for their branding decisions.
There’s much more to rebranding than merely changing your logos and hoping things go over okay, or to replace your brand letters to lower caps because ‘we want to be approachable’. It is, for any brand large or small, a major undertaking that can often get painful and expensive. Plus, you’re going in with absolutely no guarantee that your consumers (or even non-consumers, for that matter) are going to love it.
Why, then, do companies rebrand themselves despite this high risk? Have they all gone nuts?
There are a multitude of reasons why your business might want to execute a rebrand, and these could be some of them:
#1: Your Brand is now offering more services and products
A great example here is technology giant Microsoft. Rolling out a new minimalist logo in 2012 – its first in 25 years – was a move in anticipation of its new lines of products, including its very first hardware product, the Microsoft Surface. Making use of its consumers' familiarity of the red, blue, yellow and green colours in the Windows operating system, the coloured boxes are intended to express the company’s new direction of embracing a diverse portfolio of products. Many companies often consider rebranding when they are rolling out new lines of services and products, thus altering their core business – which then trickles down the vision, mission and values. The old logo and brand positioning will then no longer help you tell your cohesive brand story, and you’d require something new to bring these changes out.
As a company enters new lines of businesses beyond its original offerings, the existing brand positioning, brand logo, and even the brand name could then prove to be restrictive and may limit the brand's full potential. Case in point? The simple reduction of a particular tech company’s name over 10 years ago signaled its arrival to a bigger stage, priming it for new and exciting opportunities – before it became one of the largest companies in the world today.
#2: Your Brand is entering more markets and needs a stronger sense of brand unity
A rebranding at this stage occurs often because the company has global expansion in mind. It certainly helps for you to look at your brand through the lens of your intended expanded markets, putting into context the brand and different cultures. When done early, this could help save money over time, and prevent huge brand disasters when you attempt to launch into other markets in the future.
Moodboard for India
Moodboard for China
Uber is one company that is currently experiencing mega-growth all over the world. You might hate its new logo (and find it really hard to locate the app on your phone screen), but its rebranding was a result of this expansion in mind. With each country different, the understanding of the divergence between the value proposition of each country is important. The previous impression of luxury and exclusivity from its sleek, black look could no longer represent the experience of Uber in some countries – for example, the affordability, convenience and ubiquity in the Singapore market.
Its new identity also takes into consideration the individuality for all 65 of its local launch markets – with each of them receiving a toolbox of new brand assets. Visually, they represent the digital and physical world, and Uber is where they both intersect. Now, do you like it a teeny bit more already?
#3: Your Brand is no longer in the top of the mind recall in your industry
Logos of GAP
When you hear the term ‘fast food’, what is the first brand that comes to mind? How about banks? Or computers?
Failure to have a significant mindshare amongst your target audience affects your competitive advantage, often leading to sluggish sales and an eventual passing of your brand.
When American clothing retailer GAP realised its plummeting sales, they tried lots of stuff – frantically refreshing its product mix, store design and merchandising strategies with hopes of getting back their market share. Despite this, sales figures remained grim. Rebranding was their absolute last shot at reaching out and winning the hearts of their desired target audiences – the (ever-demanding) millennials.
We all know how the exercise turned out – the logo only lasted for one week before they returned to the old one.
There’s no mistake about it – this was a huge branding disaster for GAP. While so, the silver lining was that the brand got lots of love from the episode, with an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the old logo. Well, at least they got people to sit up and notice, didn’t they?
At the end of the day, the intentions for a rebranding exercise should come from inside out, with genuine purposes of providing your consumers with a new and exciting product offering or experience, and not just a basic name or logo change. There will always be a high inertia for companies to undertake a rebranding project due to the high risks and costs, and also why it is important to review these motives and end goals of your rebranding before doing so.