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An example of a suite of rebranded collateral. An example of a suite of rebranded collateral.
31 July 2013 Posted by 

To rebrand, or not to rebrand?

By Chris Hekeik, Campaign Director Modemedia

I'VE lost count of the number of businesses which have come to us over the past 14 years wanting to be more noticeable in their marketplace and asking if they should change their brand or not.

A lot of thought has to go into the answer which is why the first thing that we do is sit down with the business owner in a Modemedia Brand Ignition Workshop. We want to know what their vision is for the future.

Where do they see themselves in two years, five years, 10 years? Do they intend to expand their product line-up and find more distribution outlets? Do they want to be perceived as a market leader? Who are their competitors and how are they positioned in the market? Do they have strong high-profile brands?

The answers to these and other questions are vital because they tell us how hard the brand will have to work in the future. Will it be taking the business from obscurity to prominence? Is it destined to become the Nike or Coca Cola or Apple of their market place. If so, it has to look the part.

This is where we ask ourselves two questions: will we need to completely re-create the brand or do we modernise the existing design?

In many cases company logos designed at the outset, when the business is young and only dealing with a small customer base, tend to be "immature" and unsophisticated.

At a time when the owner is having to spend money on setting up an office, purchasing equipment or machinery or vehicles and hiring staff there often isn't much left for the designer.

So we see dated, almost "childish" designs which might have been adequate in a small marketplace where customers aren't very discerning or brand conscious, but they won't work with a more savvy audience which is being targeted by the contemporary brands of your competitors.

It has a lot to do with perception. If I name the leaders across a variety of markets I guarantee you know what their brands look like. Nike. Toyota. Microsoft. Coles. LG. Pizza Hut, Apple.

Apple is a classic example of a company which felt it had to make big, bold changes with its brand.

Did you know that the original Apple Computer Company logo was a complicated black and white illustration showing Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree with a glowing apple in its branches.

From that almost-19th design came the rainbow coloured apple and today we see the basic white or black apple.

They decided that to "play with the big boys" - they were up against giants like Microsoft and IBM - their brand had to be modern and minimalistic.

This is why we will sometimes take an old brand and do away with it. When we look to the future and consider all of the online (web, tablet, Smartphone) and offline (brochures, signage, point of sale, packaging, vehicles, advertising, uniforms) applications where that brand will need to be positioned we know that the original design won't work.

So, we start from scratch with a clean sheet of paper. In 100% of situations in which we have done this the business owner has enthusiastically welcomed the new look and it has gone on to great success.

It's worth remembering that with the trend to online searching and purchasing via Smartphones and tablets it is very important that a brand works properly in that environment.

A powerful brand is one where people see the icon or image and know exactly who the company is without having to see the company name. The Nike swish. The Apple apple. The Commonwealth Bank's "vegemite on toast". The Toyota rings.

Where possible we introduce an icon to the brand which we know will grab peoples' attention. On other occasions we will assess an existing brand and decide that it can be "made over". Modernised.

We take the original colour or shape or emblem and give it a more contemporary look and feel. Again, with the various online and offline applications in mind. By doing this we maintain continuity of the brand from its humble beginnings.

A good example of this is Coca Cola. Back in 1887 the cursive font was used in the first logo and it is still there 125 years later.

Sure, they introduced red on white background, white on red, the famous swirl, and themes like Coke Adds Life, Open Happiness and Enjoy Coca Cola, but the original essence of the brand has remained.

It was interesting to see this year that Instagram has honoured the history of the Coca Cola brand. Remember Instagram's logo was that cute square looking camera. Not any more.

They have introduced a lower case cursive font and they say they did it because they saw that Coca Cola's cursive font was timeless and they want theirs to be timeless as well.

The key to re-inventing a brand is what happens after it has been launched. I've referred to mega-brands in this article. The way they became world famous was because each company has diligently carried out long-term promotion of its brand.

Now, I know that your business might not become a mega-brand but if you want to be recognised and take market share it is imperative that once your brand has been "fixed" it must be advertised to potential customers.

At Modemedia we create multi-layered strategies that educate the market place about the design change and the reasons for it. A rebrand is a good opportunity to remind the public who you are and why you are better than the rest.

In most cases we will suggest that every month your brand is promoted online via web, email campaigns and social media as well as offline via print materials, signage, point of sale, packaging and possibly direct mail, as well as other ideas such as competitions, giveaways, merchandising, vehicle wrap and so on. I can't stress this enough.

The success to establishing your brand is to push it into the market place continually. Not just for a few months and give up. For one year, two years, more.

We have so many examples where rebranding and ongoing promotion has totally transformed companies and turned them right around. They have gone from obscurity to market leaders.

Is your brand destined to become a market leader? If so, it has to look the part and be aggressively promoted.

Chris Hekeik is a founder of Mode Media. Visit www.modemedia.com.au


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