4 rules for updating your brand

Looking to revamp your company branding to help your business branch out into new markets?

Want to appeal to a more modern customer base, all the while not alienating your current, loyal clients?

As a business owner, the feeling of having evolved and outgrown your current branding is entirely normal, and one that tends to creep up on you over a period of time.

It’s rare that there’s one of those light bulb moments, when you suddenly wake up one morning and realise that a brand refresh is what’s needed to bring your business into new territory.

It’s a fact that trends are always evolving at an incredibly quick rate. Just look at the fashion industry’s evolution over the last sixty years – we’ve gone from ruffled shirts and mini skirts to double denim and leg warmers, and everything in-between.

The only way for a business to survive and thrive as trends and customer attitudes change is to successfully adapt and update your brand positioning accordingly.

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Ryanair, Apple, and Facebook are just a few examples of giant companies committed to evolution, and which have seamlessly altered their brand positioning to stay relevant and active in their respective marketplaces.

If you’re considering a brand refresh for your own company, we’ve come up with four rules to help you get started:

1. Be clear and relevant.

“Boring, dull, and nothing to do with staying anywhere. What does it represent? I think you should go back to your old logo and then have a rethink.”

That was just one of many Twitter users’ opinions of the Airbnb rebrand, launched in July of last year.

The Airbnb website, a platform for people to rent out their homes to tourists in popular city destinations, performed a complete rebrand of their logo and business – a rebrand that took them a year of research and development.

They were incredibly proud of the end-result.

2. Don’t ignore your heritage.

It’s important to try to maintain at least some of the heritage of your brand when it’s time to update – whether that be the colour scheme, font style, or logo shape. Otherwise, you risk alienating your customers entirely, and left feeling like they aren’t dealing with the same company – a company they trust.

Aviva did a great job of maintaining brand recognition and marketing positioning when they made the move from Norwich Union; keeping the exact same logo and typeface, but simply changing the brand name.

Microsoft and eBay are two great examples of big-name brands who nailed it with their subtle branding updates, bringing their companies bang up to date while maintaining the core elements – and thus recognition – of their logos.

3. Listen to your customers.

In 2010, clothing giant Gap totally renovated their iconic logo, transforming it into a vague and boring image that was instantly attacked on social networks and online forums upon release.

Company spokesperson Louise Callagy said the new logo was supposed to signify Gap’s transition from “classic, American design to modern, sexy, cool.”

However, following on from the significant backlash, Gap reverted back to the old logo just one week later.

Marka Hansen, president of Gap Brand North America, said the company’s customers always came first.

“We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back.

“So we’ve made the decision to do just that.”

She added that it was clear the retailer “did not go about this in the right way” and “missed the opportunity to engage with the online community”.

“There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way.”

Gap realised their mistake: not consulting their customers and trialling the logo before rolling it out across all channels. However, they did a really great job of taking on board this feedback and were quick to act when they did realise their mistake.

4. The simpler, the better.

You’ll see throughout about 95% of big brands’ logo evolutions that each iteration is simpler, less complex, and more streamlined than the last.

Take Starbucks, for instance. Or Apple, Pepsi, and Kodak.

The more complex your logo, the less impactful and instantly recognisable it is. It’s also much more difficult to insert and print an intricate logo onto marketing materials.

Steve Jobs cited this very reason for changing the Apple logo, from the original image of Sir Isaac Newton sitting beneath a tree with tiny text, to a simple, single image of an apple with a “byte” taken out of it.

It’s distinctive, relevant, and very easy for Apple’s customers to “get.”

What do you think?

Got any rules of your own to add to our list? Tweet us @FotofireLtd to share your thoughts!