Creating new brands from scratch is one thing, but rebranding brings some additional challenges and hurdles for clients as well as us.
The biggest challenge is that with existing brands, people already have attachments to them, so anything new can stir rejection, fear and even anger. The first test of this is inside a company, where founders may have been involved in creating the original identity. Deeply personal connections become hard to let go of, and any criticism of the current branding can initiate a very defensive reaction.
The other situation is when people are convinced that designers just rock-up to push their opinions on the latest, cool trends. Now, we know that this happens out there. If you are launching the next cool and trendy retail product it may even work well, but otherwise it sadly can tar all designers with a bad reputation of just being ‘fluffy stylists’ with a diva attitude about personal taste. That is not us. So whilst we don’t delve into an expensive and paralysing spiral of data-gathering or bamboozle our clients with smart-arse process diagrams, we do take our research phase seriously. And it’s this research phase that informs the concepts we develop – not our opinion or our personal tastes.
But the biggest hurdle for a rebrand is with the customers in the outside world. Only a small sample of them may have been involved, or even aware of, a rebrand taking place. That means that there is no preamble or walk-through the research to soften the impact of cold hard change.
And, as we all know, most people don’t like change. There are different ways to handle this, and as customers have become more involved and vocal about the brands they know and love, the approaches to rebrands have changed. One route is to tweak a brand ever so slowly every year or two so that changes are barely even noticed. That’s why we might believe that a Twix bar has always been a Twix bar, but if you look back at one from the 70s, it is clearly a 70s product that wouldn’t compete on today’s shelves.
Another route is to share a rebranding story, and this works well. Articles, videos or forums where customers can hear the explanations and share their views is more common now that open scrutiny is part of our social media lives. But that doesn’t mean that everyone will be persuaded or accept the changes. In fact, this openness will attract those that aren’t happy, as they will have the most motivation to comment.
So us and our clients have to be strong in the face of any initial outcry. It is good to hear it, but that doesn’t mean rebrands will get revoked. People take time to accept change and the reality is that not everyone will come round.
Some customers may even be lost in the process – the aim isn’t to please everyone. But if the strategy, the research and the concept is good, current customers will see the improvement and new customers will outweigh those that couldn’t be convinced.
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