Brand identity awareness as we understand it now appeared in the 19th century with the introduction of packaged goods. As soon as products were no longer produced by local manufacturer the need for the brand image occurred. Mass production has a wider market orientation and often cheaper price. But competition with local products which were already familiar to consumers was impossible without differentiation and strong appealing image.
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Many brands image was intentionally created to simulate local farmers’ products and therefore appear as something familiar to the potential customer. Perfect illustrations provide such known brands as Uncle Ben’s rice and Kellogg’s breakfast cereal, till now they have an image of home-made products. And from this contemporary branding originated: manufacturers with the help of advertising started to associate other kinds of brand values, such as youthfulness, fun, luxury, honesty, quality assurance, source or ownership, and producers responsibility. They learned how to differentiate and to create emotional bonding with the help of identity signs.
Recent environmental trends are forcing top managers to give even greater and greater attention to brand identity to guarantee competitive advantage. For every business the key to success is the right brand identity which should present a positive image of the company and set the stage for a strong reputation. Temporal (2002) stated “The brand is the foundation of the business. Weak brand can tear up the foundation.”
Therefore the creation of strong brand identity is crucial for companies to encourage positive attitudes and provide an important competitive advantage. The corporate name and logo are two essential components of the corporate identity construct; they are the symbols of brand. Furthermore, they are the most pervasive elements in corporate and brand communications, and play a main role in the communication of the desired positioning strategy. The right logo and clear visual identity are critical for any company’s success.
Though a brand can have an old-fashioned logo, even the minor change can jeopardize its appeal to loyal customers. In the advertising history there are a lot of examples of rebranding which gone wrong. Wheeler (2009) in her book brings an example of Kellogg’s corn flakes which wanted slightly change the name of cereals from Coco Pops to Choco Pops in 1999. The result was deplorable and its customer base strongly resisted. If the brand image is strong, a sudden change could alienate customers.
On the other hand, successful rebrand can help the company or a product to reach unprecedented market position. In the 1950s nobody knew a widespread and popular fruit called “kiwi”, because it was called the Chinese gooseberry and was not popular at all. American importers decided that it needed a makeover. Fruit is imported from New Zealand, so they decided to rename it kiwifruit to honour the flightless national bird of New Zealand. With the new name market position improved dramatically.
The importance of the right name and appropriate professionally designed logo hardly can be underestimated. If brand symbols were not created well in the beginning it is never too late to do a rebrand. Though changing these symbols is controversial and requires enormous physical, financial and psychological investments.
Rebranding has become a real trend in the last decades, with some companies rebranding several times. There are plenty of successful and unsuccessful examples of rebranding which was done for all possible reasons from attempt to rebrand itself to desire to shed the company negative image.
Obviously, the risks of changing the established brand identity are high and benefits are not guaranteed. With a new identity it is normally very difficult to estimate actual monetary benefits. However, there are numerous examples of companies changing names and logos, rebranding, and creating new identities for a variety of reasons, all with successful results.
The aim of this study is therefore to give an answer to the following research question:
Why evolution of brand identity is better than revolution?
When revolution is necessity?
The paper is a secondary research and is based on information from books and specialized magazines, also in electronic form. It is structured in order to provide a clear and systematic understanding of the advantages, disadvantages and causes of changing the established brand identity.
Brand image and brand identityÂ
Difference between brand identity and image is not obvious and often confused. According to Collins dictionary “brand image” is “the attributes of a brand as perceived by potential and actual customers”. Therefore brand image is mostly visual oriented and dealing with such issues as logo design, name, tagline, corporate colours and fonts.
On the contrary “brand identity” refers to the core attributes of a brand itself, its philosophy and its values. Brand identity is so-called “brand personality” – a marvellous aggregate which form the uniqueness of brand; it is an individuality which singles out the brand. Brand identity is the facade of the company or organisation and should be an accurate representation of it. On the other hand it is the total proposition and promises that a company makes to consumers. But the press and the competition can also influence brand identity. To establish and maintain distinguishable identity every aspect of a business has to be taken into consideration.
Aaker (2004) mentioned in his works that companies have to make substantial efforts to make sure that what customers perceive the company in desired way. A well-built image works for the company, bringing an individual, memorable identity which fits perfectly with the company’s aims and strategies. A strong brand identity always brings a company above its competitors all by itself. Though development of such a strong brand takes time and financial inputs it is a worthy investment. (Aaker, pp 183-185)
Different levels of identity change
When companies decide to undertake corporate identity changes, they are usually redeveloping the visual image in terms of logo and corporate design. Such efforts do not normally involve a change in brand values so that the brand itself, its personality and core values remains the same. Unfortunately, very often this fallacy led companies to believe that the visual changes itself will change the brand identity. But changes to signage or logo design do not necessarily change the perception of consumer. Certain characteristics like the indefinable associations with this brand or consumer perception of quality and service are deep-rooted into the brand identity and cannot be changed that easily.
As it is important for any brand to maintain a modern look even surface changes of the visual image are positive and the visual identity needs to change over time. But entire change of the image can provoke consumer concerns about changes in brand values or possible ownership. If there is an appealing for consumers strong brand identity then extensive changes may destroy emotional attachments. People are always afraid to notice sudden unjustified changes in the behaviour of other people. Same negative reaction is unavoidable when the accustomed brands which customer prefer exhibit similar sudden changes.
Alternatively, if the goal is to significantly improve the standing of the brand, then corporate identity changes can be accompanied by considerable changes to all the related issues like organizational culture or service standards. Normal completion of such changes will improve consumers’ perception of the company and its services. Consequently the changes will, over the longer term, have a corresponding positive effect on brand image.
Brand symbols: logo and company name
The role of the logo
Confident branding and a well-built branding strategy uses design to communicate a message that appeals to the target audience – a message that creates confidence in the brand quality while differentiating it between the competitors. In the branding strategy the importance of the logo as a component in reflecting a brand can hardly be overestimated. If the logo does not to qualify than a new brand strategy and a new logo should be considered.
A logo as an important part of brand marketing can say many things about a company. A logo can make the perception of the company either negative or positive. The mission of the logo is to effectively brand the company. Therefore logo can be considered a god one if it is correctly represents the values and goals of the company.
Though branding is not come to a simple logo design. The logo is only one piece of the branding strategy. But nevertheless logo is a powerful symbol that can provide consumers with instant brand recognition of the business and the services or products that company offer. Good logo has to arose strong associations with the brand identity and be entirely based on a brand strategy. Without the strategy behind it a logo can put across the wrong message and in return weaken the brand identity. Consistent brand message implemented in well designed logo helps to increase consumer recognition.
A logo represents business, illuminates it, is able to promote core values and draw focus from competitors. Being attractive, easy to read and memorable a logo establishes a familiarity among other brands and makes a differentiation. A logo is absolutely essential for both small and large businesses.
Any business would be are faceless and forgettable without a logo. A professionally made logo can catch the attention of potential clients and invite their interest in a company. A logo is kind of business’ special mark. When customers visit a store, use products or even receive official emails, a logo becomes a business’ personal signature. It informs new customers about targets and values of the company and greets old customers with remembrance. Nowadays in competitive market environment logo plays the main role in differentiation one product from another.
A logo helps people positively recognise the business as being professional, credible and authentic. A logo should be well-executed and look great, also it should be truthful in what it communicates and not be exaggerative or deceptive, to show that a business is credible. And most importantly, a logo should represent the brand identity values confidently to invite trust from customers and being authentic.
To describe the visual design elements of a brand experience, such as aÂ graphic logo designÂ and the most significant sides of a brand a term “brand design” is used. Professional designers can develop a brand design in a way to connect the company with its customers, to create the right image, and communicate the right information about product benefits.
“The brand’s effect on buyer’s preferences and continued loyalty are the keys.” (Shimp (2003), p. 136) The main goal of branding is to make product or service emotionally appealing for consumers. Brand design is concerning with designing the consumer’s familiarity with the brand. Consequently it is important to communicate to the customers anÂ imageÂ of the company, products and services that is value oriented. Then again the brand unique value is constitutes of the level of consumers awareness. With every new experience to the brand, customers repeatedly pick up on the brands benefits and qualities.
Logo and name design
A logo design is critical for the brand identity as it has a role of a symbol of the product. Without brand identity and consequently logo design it would be almost impossible to sell products or services. The truth is, people normally buy not only the products and services, but they also buy a promise, reputation and identity. All mentioned above qualities the logo design should represent.
Any logo design consists of two key elements: the logo’s text (company name) and the graphic or picture that accompanies it. The look of a company’s name conveys meaning and is as significant as picture. Different fonts convey different meanings and emotions to the potential customer and using the right font is vital. However logo design images frequently become the key recognition component of any company’s marketing promotions.
In order to have right brand positioning and the strength brand a corporate logo or product logo should be well designed. An image should be simple and bold, making it easy to see at a glance and should work well with the company name. A strong, balanced image with no little extras that confuse its look would be appropriate for any company. Additionally it is always important to make sure that logo looks good in black and white, as well as in colour.
The logo should not be just nice, but it should communicate certain values which are important for the company. The logo design has to communicate the nature of the business clearly and has graphic imagery that looks appropriate for the business. Corporations are moved in new and different directions by internal and external factors. Thus with the lapse of time logos can lose their meaning. Many famous companies have successfully introduced a new logo or re-positioned existing ones.
Different kinds of design
The most widely used font-based design focuses primarily on text and typeface but can incorporate other elements as well. The logos of IBM, Microsoft and Sony, for instance, use type treatments with a twist that makes them distinctive. This type is best suited for companies whose name effectively describes what they do and can convey the message without graphical elements.
The subtype of a font-based design is usage of monograms and anagrams. The letter(s) represent a symbol of the company and are often used when initials translate graphically better than the actual name. This type is a wholly typographically oriented, usually involving initials or abbreviations.
This design type is preferable when communication funds are limited and should be focused on name recognition. Also when the company name is already reasonably distinctive and when the goal is to associate products with the company more clearly and directly than a symbol permits. Using a monogram is possible only if a company is big enough to afford teaching the public what the monogram means.
Another well known type consists of a simple but strong graphic symbol, an emblem on a product. The symbol is often abstract, complements an aspect of a business or service and represents a company by association. The logos of Nike or Apple are like this. Also there are plenty of company logo designs that literally illustrate what a company does, such as when a house-painting company uses an illustration of a brush in its logo.
This type is worth using when the company name is too long, too generic, doesn’t translate well globally, or has no personality. As well as a monogram it can be costly and difficult to create public awareness for the symbol type.
Small businesses with limited marketing budgets often use a combination of a symbol with words. Combination can be loose or integral and the elements can be used together or separately. A well designed combined logotype can effectively communicate what a company does as well as reflect the company personality. Since combined logo communicate the idea behind easily, less marketing is required for the logo to be effective. Therefore, combined logos are the most cost effective type of logo design available.
Distinctive tag line
Solis (2010) describes a tag line as “an amusing or memorable phrase designed to catch attention in an advertisement”. (Solis (2010), p.247) A tag line normally consists of three to seven words phrase that accompanies the logo. It expresses the company’s most important benefits and on the other hand what a company wants to communicate to customers about its work.
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Despite the effortlessly appearance of some great tag lines, creating and refining one takes a lot of time and hard work, just like designing a great logo. However the benefits of taking the time to craft a great tag line are indisputable. Main quality index of a great tag lines is it stickiness in to the consumers’ memory.
Let us examine the example of Hallmark greeting cards tag line. “When you care enough to send the very best,” appeals to the human desire to be viewed as having good taste and an enjoyment for luxury. With this tag line Hallmark positioned itself as the choice for quality. Company was founded by J. C. Hall, so the name Hallmark was a natural.
Hallmark was an official series of marks, instituted by statute in 1300, and subsequently modified, stamped by the Guild of Goldsmiths at one of its assay offices on gold, silver, or platinum (since 1975) articles to guarantee purity, date of manufacture. (Collins Dictionary)Therefore it was also brilliant from a marketing perspective because the word itself means a mark of authenticity or excellence. The name attaches the image of quality to a product in the best possible way. The tag line makes the most of the image with words that stick in the mind.
Creating a fine logo and distinctive tag line are significant for a brand identity as they provide the right image of the company and give it capability to be memorable enough. Therefore these are also critical qualities for the competitive capacity.
Change of brand symbols
In the dynamic environment of the recent decades the very idea of changing brand symbols – name and logo – is a prevalent phenomenon in every given area of business. Redesign in most of the cases is caused by the emotional apprehension of top management. The company logo design seems to become obsolete or doesn’t have the same advertising appeal that it did a few years ago. Other common reason for redesign can be narrow circumstances, time and/or budget deficit in which logo was created. To conclude, the decision of the company logo redesign is one of the most doubtful decisions any company can make due to enormous risks involved.
Changing an established name or logo requires judicious approach to a problems, carefulness and consideration. A correctly executed logo redesign can positively impact the company brand and therefore help to achieve a competitive posture in the market. Even most important corporations sometimes change their brand identity and logo design.
When changes in market focus are occurred the need of logo redesign often became inevitable. Because company needs a logo that is more conforming to new circumstances and more appropriate for a new demographics. Logo redesign can help to achieve current business goals. Decision to change logo should be deliberate and scrupulous as it includes numerous issues. First of all there are different levels of changes possible: a makeover (a new design) and a repair.
Logo repair is suitable in case the logo just need a little simplification, or perhaps a more technically proficient rendering. This is the least difficult case and the most frequent as the modern technologies require new technical specifications. For example logo design should be easily reproduced on web colours. Also stationery and letterhead design can be unfoundedly expensive to reproduce if the colours are not suitable. In addition too complicated logo with small details also can be problematic. A logo repair involves a re-rendering of the artwork so that a new improved logo become versatile and more adaptable and can be used in a range of a media. Also not the least of the factors logo repair allows for slow integration into the branding material – brochures, cards and signs. After the logo has been re-rendered into new editable format, the various design components can be improved, such as colours and fonts.
Brand symbols gradual change
Paul Temporal (2002) discusses few examples of the companies which are not going to change their logos anytime soon. As they already have spent tremendous sums of money to get their logos into the public eye. For instance it is definitely not the design that makes the Nike logo “swoosh” impressive, but the recognition factor.
This logo was created by Caroline Davidson in 1971 for only $35, yet it’s still a strong, memorable logo, effective even without colour and easily scalable. It represents the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike and is perfect for a sporting apparel business. However, Nike is still trying to make their image more amusing. The ‘Nike’ font style has been transformed many times, in an attempt to keep up with changes in taste and design sensibility.
The Microsoft Windows logo also went through number of insignificant design changes. Introduced in 1995 the first logo was extremely simple – just a graphic representation of a flying window. Afterwards the Windows icon had become much more refined: 3D, glowing and with a new font. It still remained in the same design family as the transformation was not beyond recognition, but became glossy and modern.
Apple was the first computer firm which did not use its name as its corporate identity, even the word “Macintosh” is the name of an apple variety. The idea of selling a computer under the name and image of an apple was conceived by Steve Jobs and his colleagues. Apple computers also developed their Apple icon from a rainbow-striped version to a solid and much ‘classier’ modern icon in the late nineties. The Apple icon has remained pretty stable over the years, but its treatment has changed on several occasions in order to maintain the logo’s strength while adapting to the corporation’s current marketing focus.
Brand symbols makeover is a creation of a new image and new attributes for the brand image. Logos are main symbols of a company’s brand identify and are fundamental to consumer recognition. Decision to make a logo redesign has its risks and rewards. According to Aaker a company logo can be maintained for up to 20 years serving as an enduring symbol of a company impact and existence. (Aaker (2004), pp 112-127)
However a company can decide to change its logo for several significant reasons which include changing customer and industry trends or changes in the company’s business focus and market strategy. Also a merger and acquisition is a frequent reason for logo makeover, as new logo should represent new merged company.
The process of changing an already established logo should be approached carefully, it is important to define whether there is a need for a completely new logo or a significant makeover of the already existing logo. The risks involved in changing the current logo include first of all potential losses in brand equity that has been built after lots of hard work and significant financial investment over the years. Also customers brand loyalty can be affected. Current clients used to seeing previous logo in company marketing collaterals like envelopes, business cards and letterheads may not immediately connect with the new logo.
Logo makeover is a risky and difficult step which can be performed only once. Since the first time it can be interpreted and justified as an improvement. Any more changes can unfavourably affect the company. The reputation would be affected, and the company would look unsure of its identity, its future and its consumer environment.
On the other hand a well executed logo makeover can help a company project a new image as a forward thinking company and achieve new visions of possibilities. The benefits of a logo redesign or significant makeover could include repositioning of the company’s brand in the mind of customers and reflection of the company new business focus or direction.
While a logo makeover gives the impression of relatively painless process, it includes a total renovation of the brand identity. Though represents a considerable costs, risks and disturbance to the marketing effectiveness. Logo makeover can significantly shape company brand identify and relationship with already existing customers. Despite all the risks and potential expenses a successful logo makeover can bring a great profit to the company.
Change of brand identity
Brand identity assessment
The starting point of any brand identity transformation is careful appraisal and defining target market and unique selling position of the company. Afterwards these findings will facilitate the development of new brand identity. Brand identity include everything from customer perception and experience to quality, brand look and design, to customer care, retail and website, and even the tone and voice of communications.
Defining corporate identity is often difficult, and the clues to what factors shape identity vary widely among industries and firms. To be ready for change at any time, managers must be more aware of how key stakeholders, such as employees, customers, investors and the community, view the company’s identity.
Change, when necessary, should then be structured so that it does not run counter to this perceived view. Effective rebrands are based on a detailed analysis of every activity in the company including objectives, target markets, budget and resources, timeframe, known and unknown parameters, approval structure and stakeholders.
Opposition to change in a brand identity is inevitable in most of the cases. Therefore management’s task is to identify potential opposition and find ways to neutralize it. It is often useful to start the process of rebranding with discussion involving all the employees of the main idea behind the company’s business, what its customers need and what they will need in the future. Sometimes a research can be helpful to determine the potential as well as current situation.
When the idea is defined a model that will best represent that idea should be considered. Only after these steps are successfully implemented new visual identity, actual logo and all other new imagery can be created.
Lofty aims of rebranding
Value of the brand can be hardly overestimated and all the companies are striving to possess this intangible value. Therefore as temporal progress is going further some companies may find it necessary to revise their brand identity in order to have an up-to-date image, to be relevant and appealing to potential and actual consumers and the changing market situation.
Lambkin and Muzellec (2006) studied more than 150 rebranding examples and formulate a hypothesis that regardless of reasons it invoke, rebranding aims at “appealing, regaining, transferring and/or recreating the corporate brand equity”. The aim of rebranding is therefore always a vast improvement of the brand image, though not always reachable.
Rebranding can mean a variety of different things, from simple change of the company name to more deep changes of the brand identity policy such as change of logo and colour palette. Rebranding is relevantly easy if the changes are intentionally small to ensure continuity with the past, but also to reposition the company as contemporary. Difficult case is a complete rebranding which means change of the brand image in order to reposition the established brand in the market.
Rebranding is always made in attempt of reposition the brand in the market and minds of consumers when brand identity is not anymore appealing, current brand positioning is not valid for the target market anymore, or target market changes. Sometimes companies make rebranding to distance themselves from certain negative connotations of the previous branding. For example if the brand has a controversial image, a repositioning is required to improve the flawed reputation.
However the main reason for a rebranding is to communicate a new message for a company. The goal of rebranding is to renovate brand image and differentiate situation for stakeholders and market position. “Far from just a change of visual identity, rebranding should be part of an overall brand strategy for a product or service.” (Lambkin, Muzellec (2006), p. 2)
Brand image is one of the most precious assets, and that value is a culmination of many years’ investment and commitment. Deep understanding of initial brand values and thorough research are required for the rebranding undertaking because of the huge impact on a company position that rebranding or even change of a logo can invoke. Launch of the new brand identity should be also made in a delicate and systematic manner in order to avoid pushing away old customers, while aiming to attract new one.
Establishing trust and emotional bounds based on careful strategy are critical in the rebranding process. Appropriate rebranding strategy, consistent product or service quality, sensible pricing and effective distribution will help to rebuilt brand awareness and create associations in customer memory after rebrand implementation.
Rebranding is expensive and involves a quantity of risks. Necessity to explain to loyal customers the reasons of rebranding and its benefits has to be anticipated. This is an expensive and not one hundred per cent successful undertaking. A company normally decide to undertake rebranding with all its cost, efforts and risks only if there are very good reasons for it.
Reasons for brand identity change
Though rebranding is always an earnest undertaking reasons for it can be sometimes ridiculous or unfounded. A company might want to transfer already existing identity into a new name, identity policy or positioning for a number of reasons, in order to respond to external or internal concerns.
The most common reason is attempt to stay modern, signal a change in direction, focus, attitude or strategy, if a company has a feeling that the brand image has become old-fashioned. In a fast-changing environment it can be useful to change because of globalisation, declining profitability or consumer indifference. The other reason is differentiation from competitors and willingness to overcome them. Gaining bad press or bad events experience would normally promote a corporate identity change. Also the launch of new businesses that are significantly different from the traditional one can be a reason.
However big companies very often have so-called “rebranding cycles” in order to stay current with the times or set themselves ahead of the competition. (Temporal (2002), pp 112-117) Companies also utilize rebranding as an effective marketing tool to hide discomposure of the past and to shed negative connotations that could potentially affect profitability.
The attraction of new customers
Ambition to target a new market is a most common reason for rebranding. A good example of such attempt can be Cadillac which in recent times designed a range of new cars to provide a trendy, youthful look to their brand image.Â
A lot of companies nowadays want to appear modern and progressive. A practice of changing company logo and name in attempt to attract new customers became one of the most common and widespread in recent decades. The name for a product sometimes doesn’t sound good and the logo can be obsolete or inappropriate for the marketing strategy.
However logo or brand symbols redesign in order to make company current or fashionable is the worst possible solution. There is always a high risk that change of the logo will alienate customers instead of attracting new one. Recent rebranding of the Pepsi logo which was made in attempt to attract new customers is perfect example of how unsuccessful it can be. Made by Arnell Group the Pepsi rebranding took three year and cost approximately $1 billion. Pepsi wanted to make a complete packaging and marketing rebranding of its soft drinks. The white stripe on the new logo supposed to be “smiles,” but all the efforts were barren, consumer
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