Your logo is the face of your business, giving people the ability to recognize and identify with your brand. Any drastic changes made can be devastating to your bottom line. An update to your logo also means an update to your business cards, letterhead, and website. These changes can be costly—The last thing you want is to invest in a poor re-branding effort.
So how can you be sure you get it right? Even Multi-Million dollar corporations can make mistakes in this process, which in fact happens more often than you'd think. This blog will be the first in a series of articles dedicated to outlining the most important rules of rebranding. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing some of the key questions you need to ask before you begin searching for a rebranding solution. The first of these questions being: Why do you need to rebrand?
- Has your target audience changed or moved on, leaving a gap where your sales used to be?
- Are you using the same logo your business started with, which looks like clipart and is outdated?
- Do you have a new message you’d like to share with your customers, or has bad publicity created a rift in your brand?
Decide why you need to rebrand. The “why” is the most important step, and it will make the design process easier and more efficient. Here are a few cases of logo redesigns where the "why" is shown in the result.
The Imperial War Museums are the world’s leading authority on conflict and impact, focusing on Britain's former Empire and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present. They started small, with only one museum in 1971, but have grown into a larger chain of museums, with locations in London, Manchester, and Cambridge.
The rifts between the letters in their new logo design creates a sense of disturbance, highlighting the museums’ most obvious goal—to illustrate and explore the devastating effects of war on people’s lives. IMS knew how to elevate their brand to the next level, but they did so without removing key elements of their old logo. This will allow them to retain the customers who have been with them since the beginning, while also attracting new ones, who may be of a younger generation and associate clean, polished imagery with a powerful brand.
Discovery Channel’s branding wasn’t necessarily old or outdated, but they had been spending some time cleaning up and revamping some of their child companies, such as The Animal Planet and TLC, so it was time for them to beautify themselves as well. Discovery had a plan, They knew that any logo without the ever-recognizable globe would fail. It would have demeaned their brand and they would have lost a lot of equity.
They were smart. They used a thought-provoking font and a wonderfully redesigned globe to retain their original logo without losing focus of their target audience.
Gap is one of the most popular cases of rebranding gone wrong. In October of 2010 they released a new modern version of their logo in Helvetica font, and in less than a week, went back to their old logo. This is a great example to show that just because you can update your logo doesn’t mean you should. IWM knew how to bring new design elements to their logo without changing what made it so good in the first place—Gap, however, took it too far. They traded equity for a basic font. The lesson: Brand equity is your most important asset.
Not surprisingly, Gap has reverted back to it's original, iconic logo, mostly due to bad press and the overwhelmingly negative response by the public. It's disaturous outcome has also inspired a contest to redesign the brand in a more elegant way.
All of the ideas explored here are targeted to understanding “why”, and taking the necessary precautions before there is no turning back. Always remember the value of brand equity, and what your father always told you, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.