7 Reasons to Change Your Brand Identity
Change is good. That is, unless you have an aversion to change, in which case it can become a paralyzing, anxiety-inducing situation.
Those are the two sides of the “design coin” that a company faces when they are considering changing their brand identity. Why would they do something like that, especially with a brand that has been firmly established in the consumer marketplace? Actually, there are several reasons to change brand identity, and they all present potentially amazing opportunities.
1. Joining of Forces
Right now, there are legions of lawyers working on the next big merger and acquisition. Bunches of them are already grinding out the documents for the Verizon acquisition of Yahoo that purports to be a $4 billion deal.
Although Verizon and Yahoo will most likely keep their separate brand identities, sometimes a merger compels a company to rebrand itself even if the public doesn’t notice. NBC and Universal are actually the same company that goes by NBCUniversal. Their new “merged” logo incorporates a different font. Simple and to-the-point. Separately, NBC keeps their peacock and Universal keeps their orbiting earth.
2. Going Overseas
There are some products that make a smooth transition overseas. Global consumers want that product exactly like it is because of what it stands for. On the other hand, some companies might take the opportunity of globalization to rebrand themselves and expand the market.
Exhibit A: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Mention Pabst to a beer drinker and they’ll think about blue-collar, neon bar signs and a cheap six pack. That works for a lot of Americans. But when the opportunity to sell their beer in China came upon the Pabst Brewing Company, they decided to roll the dice and completely rebrand their product. The result is Blue Ribbon 1844, packaged in a new sleek bottle and sold as a crafted concoction of German malts aged in oak whiskey barrels. It’s also selling for $44 a bottle. Not too shabby.
3. Bad Rep
Despite all the efforts that go into research and development, a brand can still get a bad reputation. Sometimes it happens by accident, like when Burberry plaid shirts were adopted by gang members. That called for a serious brand overhaul featuring “softer” millennial-centric spokespeople. Then, there are times when a company needs to rethink their entire branding strategy from the ground up. That’s the situation that McDonald’s was facing.
Like it, love it or avoid it at all costs, fast food is a big part of the restaurant dining space. As more folks move towards healthier foods, McDonalds felt the heat more intensely than any other fast food brand, in part because they’re the largest. It all started with the acclaimed documentary “Super-Size Me.” In that film, Morgan Spurlock went on an exclusive 30-day McDonald’s diet. His only stipulation was anytime a McDonald’s worker tried to upsell him with a super-size option, he had to take it. The results were devastating to Morgan’s health and well-being, and it was a wake-up call for the burger giant.
Soon after, McDonald’s abolished the super-size option. They also ushered in healthier alternatives, such as salads and grilled wraps. The rebranding didn’t stop there. McDonald’s also set out to redesign all of its stores to give them a more Starbucks-like vibe. They’re trying to get people to come in and stick around. The golden arches are still in place, but this isn’t your granddad’s McDonald’s.
4. A New Perception
Could a product that’s over 70 years old “smell” fresh again? If your product is Old Spice cologne, then the answer is “yes.” Forty years ago, Old Spice was marketing itself with a catchy whistle and a hunky sailor coming home to catch a bottle of the cologne. It was effective, but soon stagnated.
Then, along came Isaiah Mustafa and his 186 viral videos daring you to “Look at me.” The result was that sales of Old Spice Body Wash jumped up by 11%. The company didn’t so much as change its logo. What it did change was perception and experience. Can you force a brand to go viral in a positive way? It helps if humor is part of the equation. Often, that’s hard for an older company, but when you look at the successes of rebranding, humor proves itself time and again.
5. Adapting to Emerging Demographics
The older a company is, the greater the chance of its being perceived as “stale.” Teens with bulging wallets wouldn’t be caught dead shopping where their parents shop. It’s a generational thing. Sometimes, a brand needs to adapt to shifts in demographics. That starts with identifying who has money and what they’re looking for. There was a time when Target was thought to be a low-end discount store. Seeing the emergence of rival Walmart compelled Target to swing into rebranding action.
They still promoted low prices, but they also brought in designer apparel with exclusive deals from Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli and Michael Graves. That got the attention of the boomers and the millennials. It also helped Target move up to the number-two spot, right behind Wal-Mart. In this case, two is as good as one thanks to rebranding. The lesson learned: Find a way to stand out from competitors and offer the same thing, only different.
6. You’re Expanding Out of a Local Market
Sometimes, a company can be associated with a specific geographical region that works for the brand. Think about Cape Cod Chips or Cousins Maine Lobster. Those brands made the leap to a national rollout with great success. Other brands might need to rethink their strategy with regard to a regional identity.
This probably works better for things like apparel or accessories, as opposed to food. People don’t mind buying a snack from a particular region — they just don’t want their shoes to emphasize a neighborhood.
7. Your Name is Simply Horrible
On December 26, 2004, a devastating tsunami struck across the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people. The following year, a sports drink was launched with the dubious name, Tsunami. It didn’t go over well with the public. Technically speaking, a company can ride out a wave of bad word association, but do they really want to take that risk? It might be better to cut your losses and go back to the drawing board.
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