Rebranding – why?
A brand is not just a set of logos and a font; it is the core of who you are. The question as to whether a company should rebrand or just refresh should be driven by solid reasoning. Rebranding is generally a major overhaul of the look and feel, and the messaging that accompanies communications.
Businesses rebrand for a number of purposes, but some of the main reasons are;
- The brand has history but needs to be more relevant to today’s consumers
- Their market has become more competitive and they are losing market share
- They want to be seen as a market leader
- Their strategy is changing and they want to evolve the business
- There is some negative feeling towards some part of the brand
- The internal culture has changed but not the external
There is a difference between a rebrand and refresh. A rebrand examines every part of the business and how that affects your public face. It generally means a completely new set of visual touchpoints and messaging. On the contrary, a refresh may just be tweaking what already exists, and does not address culture or messaging.
Facebook went through a refresh in 2015, for example. To the untrained eye, there is not much difference at a glance. The font is the same colour, the brand is the same size, and when seen in exclusion most people wouldn’t notice the difference.
John Higgins of Facebook said:
“When Facebook’s logo was first created in 2005, the company was just getting started and we wanted the logo to feel grown up and to be taken seriously. Now that we are established, we set out to modernize the logo to make it feel more friendly and approachable. While we explored many directions, ultimately we decided that we only needed an update, and not a full redesign. We worked with Eric Olson — whose typeface Klavika was used in the original logo — and developed a custom typeface to reflect where we are now and where we are headed.”
A refresh that allowed the company to make the logo its own, whilst leaving culture and messaging in place.
Uber, on the other hand, wanted not just to change their logo in 2016; they wanted it to be a repositioning of how consumers and the world at large felt about their company. Up until that point, Uber had always been the upstart, the brash player who challenged norms. Now they wanted to project a different persona.
Through a long process of iteration, they focussed on a description of Uber that was ‘bits and atoms’, and the internal design team arrived at more of a fluid concept than a logo. This was no week long process, but a 2.5 year effort. The new logo adapts to its market, and the colours reflect the market that is using it.
This was a rebrand with a very distinct purpose and one that shifted perceptions. The then-CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, said, “The warmth, the colors, those things. That happens, when you start to know who you are.”
The question is… was it a success?
If you are looking to rebrand or refresh, start with a plan and a purpose, and more importantly what outcomes you are looking for.