Rebranding: The Do’s and Don’ts

Published on 31st July 2023

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This insight post is a summary of the original blog post published by Phillips Group. To view the full length blog post on rebranding: The dos and don’ts of brand evolution.

Most brands, especially major ones, will go through a few evolutions in their lifetime. But with great rebranding comes great responsibility. Whether brands are trying to salvage what’s left, or feel they need to update in order to stay relevant – there are a few things they should make sure they do, and don’t do, during the process.

Most recently we experienced Elon Musk’s extreme attempt to salvage Twitter with a complete rebrand to X. This change has been met with mixed reviews – some claiming it was bold and necessary, others predicting this marks the beginning of the end for Twitter, with Bloomberg predicting billions will be wiped off in brand value. This wouldn’t be the first or last epic brand fail.  

If you are considering a brand refresh or complete overhaul, first take stock of the following pointers:

1. Have a clear vision

Steve Jobs’ vision for the name of his company was always clear. In 1981, when a journalist asked him why the name Apple, he responded with, “the main idea behind Apple is bringing simplicity to the public, in the most sophisticated way, and that’s it, nothing else… The fruit of creation, Apple. It was simple but strong.”

This was reflected in his logo – an apple. Simple, but strong. And while the logo has had a few subtle updates, the overall shape remains unchanged for 33 years.

This ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach is mirrored by Coca-Cola who have largely maintained the same logo since it was trademarked in 1893. Pepsi, on the other hand, has undergone eleven logo refreshes since 1898.

What this illustrates is that an established brand doesn’t necessarily need to change to stay relevant.

2. Listen to your audience

Understanding customer sentiment is vital to the ongoing success of a brand. Had Gap listened to their customers, understood the logo resonated with them and that change wasn’t necessary, they may have saved themselves a lot of coin. 

What Airbnb did well was sound out their market – their current audience and those they wanted to attract going forward. They recognised the current brand was dated and it didn’t do justice to the breadth of the company’s offering.

Gathering feedback through surveys, focus groups and social media listening provides valuable insights into whether change would be beneficial… And then testing and refining the proposed change before launching it. 

Research might also reveal that a subtle update or refresh is more appropriate than a complete overhaul. This approach maintains brand recognition while modernising the brand.

For more examples of brand fails – and successes – find the remaining pointers on the Phillips Group website. You can also explore branding insights and tips from other Worldcom Partners.

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