By David Langton, president of Langton Creative Group and co-author of Visual Marketing (Wiley Publishers).
- Ineffective Logo. How well does your name and image support your company’s mission? Organizations must change and evolve and sometimes that cool logo from the 80s no longer pulls its weight. Are you defending your logo just because it’s old? We often hear about how an old logo has equity with clients. But just because it is recognizable as your logo, doesn’t mean that this is how you should be known. What impression is the logo making on your behalf? Is it classic, or just old-fashioned? One healthcare client had an old logo with bad typography that was difficult to reproduce. But the CEO loved his logo and told me that the old company logo wasn’t going anywhere, “I expect that to be on my gravestone,” he told us. And that’s exactly where it should be.
- Non-descript.Is your company or service getting lost in the shuffle? If your logo looks just like everyone else’s logo, then it’s not doing its job. You must distinguish who you are in your marketplace. What are the special attributes that make your company, product of service the right solution? Find that spark of novelty that makes you special. The FedEx logo is famous for its hidden “arrow” that implies forward-motion. (They’re ones who move your packages quickly.) The UPS logo is a golden shield. (They’ll protect your packages.) AT&T has a globe. (They want to be seen as world-wide, more than just an American telephone and telegraph company.) Designer Tom Geismar says, “Symbols don’t make clear what you do; it makes it clear who you are.”
- Leadership Change.Whenever the top management at a company changes there is an opportunity to inject new energy into your messaging and redefine your mission. Capture the vision of their leadership. How does your brand reflect their goals for the new year? When General Re acquired New England Asset Management (NEAM) the new company name became “GR-NEAM.” When a new leadership team took over they decided to reclaim the “NEAM” name since it was easier to say and it gave them an opportunity to promote their new vision for the organization.
- Mergers/Acquisitions. Newly combined companies usually are in a state of chaos. Inside and outside the company people are searching for what the newly combined company will be about. This is the time to reevaluate how your brand presents who you are and what your values and strengths are in the new combined company. A report in Harvard Business Review states, “Because a merger’s success relies in part on preserving positive feelings among customers and employees, it’s smart to pursue a branding strategy that explicitly seeks to transfer equity from both merging companies to the new one.” When United and Continental Airlines merged they kept the Continental logo and aligned it with the United Name. Companies that use this “fusion” method actually exceeded their market return by 3%.
- Technology.Is your field changing while you are being left behind? This is an important time for companies to re-evaluate how their brand is presented in the marketplace. An upstart may be perceived as quicker and more technological than an established player. Can you show how important your experience and know-how is for tackling the challenges in your industry? Domino’s Pizza keeps reinventing itself with new tech to stay ahead of newly emerging rivals like UberEats who use apps to deliver food. Fast Company shows how as early as 1973 Domino’s was introducing a 30-minute guaranteed delivery then continued to reinvest in tech that utilizes voice recognition, GPS tracking and artificial intelligence to keep on top of tech revolution. Successful companies develop tech solutions that keep them ahead of the competition and then make sure their brand communications reflect their inventiveness.
Be the brand you ought to be.
Keep in mind that even if your brand experiences any of these telltale signs, don’t embark on a rebrand without making sure your business can back up the brand promise. The key to effective branding is that you must be what your brand says you are. If you are rebranding to be more technological, then you must become more tech-savvy. Just rebranding yourself without improving your services and really redefining who you are is not going to be effective in the long run.
The key to a successful rebrand is in identifying a core story that expresses the brand’s connection to its audience. Why are you important in the eyes of your target customers? And how do you tell that story? The re-brand launch is just as important as the logo artwork and the naming of the organization.