Last year, Gap clothing stores made national news when they rolled back a logo redesign after it was widely criticized; Tropicana made a similar decision in 2009. Other companies, like Coca-Cola, have been subtly updating their branding for decades, and consumers have barely noticed. How does a company know when it’s time to update its brand?
Angela Massaro-Fain, founder of Grapevine Communications, says there’s no one-size-fits-all timeframe for rebranding. Some companies go more than 20 years before refreshing their image, while others opt for a redesign after only three or four years. Massaro-Fain says companies need to ask “whether their logo still looks fresh and still truly represents their corporation.” Companies change over time—are the products and services you offer today the same as they were when you started? If not, make sure your logo, mission statement and marketing match the current nature and personality of your business.
Massaro-Fain also suggests that, if you do decide it’s time for a change, “Do it all at the same time, and get everybody on board.” Some companies transition in stages, updating websites, signs, business cards and other media at different times. But the lack of consistency during the transition can be confusing and off-putting. If you’re going for a big change, she says, get everything ready behind the scenes and then unveil it all at once. The result is a bolder, more unified public image. “And,” she adds, “getting the buy-in from company management and staff is very important.”
Questions to ask before rebranding
How recognizable is your image? Consider hiring an outside consultant to study how your company is publicly perceived. If a certain color, style or mission statement is seen as defining your brand, look for ways to refresh them rather than replace them.
Who are your clients? Keep your target audience in mind. Consult a PR professional to learn how certain colors and styles attract or repel different types of people.
Where will your image be displayed? When designing a new image, consider every medium you plan to use. Some logos look great on a billboard but cramped on a business card, and you want to be able to project the same image across all media.
How will it be used? “Consistency is critical,” says Massaro-Fain. Prepare a standards guide detailing the appropriate ways to use your logo; include fonts, colors and paper types that should not be used.
How will you unveil your new image? Consider dropping hints that let customers know big changes are on the way. When you “set an expectation that something new is coming,” says Massaro-Fain, consumers “look for it and get excited about it.”
Who will design it? Many companies use in-house staff for rebranding and marketing their image, but your staff’s subjective familiarity with your business might be a hindrance. Consider hiring outside professionals who are familiar with current design trends and best practices and can help you create something fresh from an outside perspective.