Thinking About Rebranding? Change is Good…
You are going for rebranding, but are you sure that you have chosen the correct rebranding strategy? A custom fit for your brand’s need? Here, Brand Strategy Head at VGC, Ninee Rao highlight some of the recently chosen different strategies by few well know brands and how successful it was.
Well, Change is good especially when the look, feel and importance of a beloved brand becomes dated or is inconsistent with its changed context or intent. The brand attempting a new avatar should always extend its original essence unless it is a deliberate shift from an earlier negative connotation or such. Hence, the brand makeovers are essential whether it involve a slight refinement or a deep overhaul with a radical image shift. A brand image building exercise takes a long time and the attempts to refining or redefining it should be a result of a well thought out strategy that changes the customers’ perception holistically.
Brands are sending out messages incessantly, about themselves, their vision, products and all the good-to-know things. However, this only lends itself to the joy which the communication/product or the ownership allows, there is no other delight unless the brand intends on pleasantly engaging with the consumer and that creates brand stories and a special connection, which doesn’t fade away easily. This exactly is what tips the balance in favour of customer delight over mere customer satisfaction.
VGC repositioned and rebranded the baby product brand, Baby Dreams by J.L. Morison. We first lifted the brand from its price-warrior-commodity competitive set by developing the brand concept of ‘Smart Love’, which emphasises that a parent’s love is not only about emotions, but also about making the right and smart choice for the child. This idea of Smart Love was clearly brought out in the tagline ‘The Smart Mom’s Choice’. Further, instead of just re-imagining the logo form, we also created two powerful visual assists – two mascots – Luv and Khushi, who evolved and grew with the child’s changing needs and across the brand’s vast product offering. The mascots were created as a key branding and communication tool that held conversations with the child’s mother through the product packaging and other in-store communication mediums.
Don’t throw the brand with the bathwater!
Every once in a while, a brand that is running on an even keel will decide that it needs to shake things up a bit by contemporizing its presence. The famous Tropicana repackaging debacle is a shining example of an overzealous redesign folly that overshot the basic needs of consumer brand cognition and familiarity. The new package design made a drastic departure from its earlier perfectly loved & accepted iconic ‘orange with straw’ and visual blocking of the stylised green, Tropicana logo, which was easily perceived on a supermarket shelf ready for off-take, to a modern simplistic asymmetrical design with no information hierarchy or clear brand semantics. Within days of the new packaging launch, the sales fell by a drastic percentage, for the sheer reason that consumers could not recognise their brand on the busy supermarket shelves!
Sometimes, changes in brand expression can be disastrous, especially when it has endeared itself to consumers in its visual appeal and taste, so much so that it is part of a collective consciousness. When Coca-Cola attempted to change its famous formulation to a new one in 1985 to spike its plateauing sales, it was met with considerable resistance and shock from consumers who had grown to love the taste and find comfort in its familiarity. Therefore changes that affect a signature brand promise and import are best avoided.
The Bélo, Airbnb’s new logo intended to be a symbol of ‘belonging’ was introduced in 2014 after a yearlong rebranding exercise. At first, everything was as usual but slowly things began to unravel because among other things the new Airbnb logo was nearly identical to the new logo of another, unrelated business and very soon people started to see other unmentionable things in the Belo. Among the frenzied social media reaction was a Tumbler page showing alternate uses for the logo, a host of parodies and even a song.
Of course, while this serves as a cautionary tale, it has to be understood that any abrupt logo or name change will draw varied reactions. However, over time these will wear off and the primary (hopefully) positive association will eventually come into focus. Importantly, what’s to be learned from this is that instead of reacting adversely, Airbnb sportingly acknowledged the logo parodies and even created and shared an infographic outlining the comparisons.
When making a change in brand expression, gradually shifting gear into a new avatar may be the way to go. So, a balance of evolution and revolution is a good strategy, however, many brands like Coke evolve their brands constantly with minute changes that are recognisable only to the trained eye. However, if there is a compelling strategic need to make a shift then traipsing around it, will have little impact. In this context, Google’s refreshed brand identity is a confident move that carries the core of the existing brand personality while simplifying, articulating and expressing it more vividly. Further, Google as an identity idiom has always been so completely dynamic and shape-shifting that it will perhaps never lose relevance.
There really is no one route that will work for every brand, it has to be a holistic strategy that visits every aspect of the brand essence and evaluates the right rebranding fit. New age brands have to be responsive and relevant to the changing consumer realities or they will have to create spaces for themselves that just transcends it all.
Published in Issue 34
This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead!