The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
My colleague, Brad VanAuken made this excellent observation about rebrands. “Identity systems are designed to encode and decode brand information to and from people’s brains,” he said. “If you change the system, the associations may be lost and will take a long time to rebuild.”
Always that dichotomy. People like what they know. And we live in a changing world. While brand managers often struggle with the timing and implementation of an identity change, I’m far more interested in the specific motivations behind why brands choose to change how they visually express who they are – because that’s where I believe things can really go askew.
If the motivation is wrong, then the rebranding will be wrong. By way of proof, a great article from Business Insider examines recent rebrands that have hit the wall at speed. Two clear principles emerge:
- Be clear about who you are and stay true to that. The very essence of identity I would have thought but it’s amazing how many companies still think they can convince people they’re something they’re not by changing their brand identity. No amount of focus-grouping with the youth-set (or anyone else for that matter) is going to make your brand something it just isn’t. Same goes for changing the name to make it more street. If you’re not a street brand, you’ll just ring hollow.
- Don’t cover up. An identity that seeks to hide the truth isn’t a rebrand, it’s a revisionist attempt to hoodwink investors and consumers. Might have worked before we were all connected and had digital memories. Doesn’t work anywhere near as well now.
So how should brands go about choosing to rework their identities? My cardinal rule: before you make any changes, think about the consumer. Change your branding only if it will make the identity more fascinating and relevant for them (not because the marketing team is bored or a competitor has changed so it’s time to follow suit).
10 reasons why you would change a brand identity:Read More
Regular readers of Branding Strategy Insider know we welcome and answer marketing questions of all types. Today, Ely Portillo, a business reporter from the Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina asks…
"Hi Derrick. I'm looking for some insight into why a retailer might change its branding. Lowe's (formerly "Let's Build Something Together" and now "Never Stop Improving"), has had several quarters of disappointing results, especially in comparison to its main adversary, Home Depot. What is the potential of a branding shift to help boost sagging sales and shift the terrain versus a larger rival?"
Ely, the potential can be quite great if the new effort is better aligned with un-met customer needs than the competition. Often, when sophisticated marketers are faced with greater competitive pressure or a new economic landscape they turn to their customers for help in tightening the focus — drawing on deep customer insight to create greater value. The power of brands lies in focus. Lowe’s new tagline very well could be a response to a better understanding of its target customers through brand research.
"What else is generally required of a retailer to successfully carry through a re-branding campaign, besides a new tagline and ads?"Read More
To be successful at repositioning your brand, you have to create higher meaning and aim higher. Aiming higher requires outward thinking and learning from the marketplace.
Over the past two years, we have been engaged with a variety of consumer products brands whose managers are seeking new opportunities to grow their brand’s value. In all these engagements, I have noticed a common thread among all of them – consumers no longer care about them because they have lost their compelling meaning in the consumer’s mind. One thing is certain– once a consumer’s mind is made up about a brand, it’s next to impossible to change it. The decisions facing brand mangers and marketing executives regarding how they deal with our ever-evolving market landscape usually comes down to three options:
- continue to invest in the existing brand meaning
- create a sub-brand
- invent a completely new brand
All of these options have advantages and disadvantages, more so if the brand is also facing dramatic challenges in distribution. The driver underpinning all these options is change. Brands are dynamic. They have their cycles and they run their course. What’s hard for managers to grasp is when to move on.
This is particularly true if the brand was once a leader. Market success always creates size, power and a false sense of security. Over time, this creates an unrealistic view of the external reality, and a lack of urgency to correct course in maintaining relevancy among consumers.Read More
Think of it as “Extreme Makeover, Aquatic Edition.” Asian carp, scorned as inedible and hunted down as vanquishers of native species, are being taste-tested under new names on menus from south to north.
The background: Asian carp were imported to the southern U.S. in the 1970s to suck up scum from catfish ponds. But they’ve become monsters in the eyes of many as they have migrated North. They can grow to 100 pounds, multiply like guppies, and tend to leap crazily out of the water, bruising and breaking boaters’ bones.
The fish got a lot of attention once they migrated up the Mississippi River and broke through an electric barrier designed to keep them out of Lake Michigan.
State and federal governments have doled out millions of dollars to various agencies to eradicate them. But too little attention has been given to a rebranding solution: Eating the Asian carp out of existence, or at least making a dent in the population.
▪ It began in Louisiana, where wildlife officials rolled out a promotion dubbing the fish the Silverfin, and enlisting chefs to create recipes for the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, two dominant invaders. “A cross between scallops and crabmeat,” declared one seafood chef.
Comcast is in the process of rebranding some of its offerings to "Xfinity," although the company name will remain Comcast.
Consumers in 11 markets will have a choice of Xfinity TV, Xfinity Voice and Xfinity Internet. Presumably, Comcast will soon be rolling out these high-speed, high-definition services to other prospects in the 39 states the company serves.
Is this a good move?
Lawyers will tell you the best trademarks are "coined" names such as Kodak and Xerox. So we are seeing a raft of coined brand names you can't find in any dictionary, including Xfinity.
But wait a minute. There's a well-known automobile brand called "Infiniti." Isn't Comcast worried about the confusion between the two? If not, did Comcast consider using Xonda or Xundai or Xoyota?
But there is a bigger issue here. Comcast is a large company with revenues last year of $35.8 billion. In addition to its cable, telephone and internet services, Comcast has cable programming interests (G4, Versus and The Golf Channel) and also owns entertainment channel E!
Not to mention the company's 51% interest in NBC Universal, a joint venture with General Electric.
It makes sense for Comcast to have a pure "company" name like Procter & Gamble and have its services, programming and cable channels defined with their own brand names.
Internal vs. external
But what makes sense from an internal point of view often doesn't make sense from an external point of view.