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  • I agree. I would also add that the biggest problem with re-branding efforts is thinking a logo is a brand, period. That’s just lipstick on the pig if you don’t also address the stories being told about your organization, which is affected by the culture itself. That means employee relations, customer service and basically living the brand with all publics. Re-branding, when handled with a wholistic PR perspective, can be successful. But if its a graphic design change touted by narrow-minded marketing appeal, failure ensues.

    • Excellent points all around, Tim. I really like what you said about “if it’s a graphic design change touted by narrow-minded marketing appeal, failure ensues.”

      That point really summarizes the thought bubble that started this post for me. I kept thinking back to all of the logo redesigns that have come out in the past year and realized that very few of them were preceded or followed by a strategic PR campaign. And, as you rightly point out, that often leads to dressing over a bigger problem that can’t simply be fixed by unleashing a new logo and hoping customers, shareholders and the media forget about the past.

    • Gentry

      Totally on board with your thoughts. Rebranding is a difficult task. Evolving a brand (a similarly, but different action) is also challenging, but it evokes thoughts of a more holistic approach to bringing a brand into an updated market segment where its brand managers want it to be. Brand evolution includes more than a logo change – it involves developing or improving products and altering advertising and PR campaigns, among many other tasks.

      • Well said. Where I think we continue to see some companies fall short with their rebranding and/or new logo efforts is when they try to launch some new brand mark without fully incorporating that effort into a broader and more holistic marketing, PR and sales strategy that accompanies it. When done separately, these efforts often fall flat, but with Starbucks, I have the feeling – based off their past efforts – that the new logo will eventually win over skeptics, precisely because it is being accompanied by a broad and strategic marketing and PR campaign.

  • Sadly, the online world has made us all think we’re experts and know what’s best for every brand — despite never working for them or having the slightest clue. As you mentioned, this made complete sense for Starbucks, yet we all feel the need to share our “expert” opinions.

    An example of a redesign that has worked? Ironically, Caribou Coffee.

    • Interesting that you note Caribou Coffee. You don’t hear about them much in the NYC/Northeast part of the country, but from my friends in the Midwest (including Arik Hanson, whom I understand is a big fan of Caribou), they do an excellent job with their branding efforts.

      I suspect some of the issue companies often face with rebarnding/redesign initiatives has to do with reaching a critical mass. In the cases of the Gap, Starbucks and other big, vibrant consumer brands, I imagine that was the case. But for something like Caribou Coffee, which still flies under the general consumer radar (more or less), it might have been less of an issue of having all of the naysayers immediately groan about the redesign.

      Then again, it could be a reverse effect, in that Caribou’s base of customers, supporters, fans, etc is smaller than Starbucks and the Gap, and thus, it likely has a stronger and deeper relationship with its core influencers and customers. tough to say, but pretty fascinating when you start thinking about the nuances of it.

      • It looks like a marketing study cited in this AdAge blog post (http://ht.ly/3C7OK) may have answered my question as to whether people’s level of commitment to a brand effects their level of positive or negative reactions to a rebranding or logo change. All signs point to Yes.

  • Vanya Babanin

    For me rebranding is just like changing your hairstyle – it seems to be only visual but actually there is always an inner need to do so, the change could be less or more derivative and, above all, it has to comply with the situation (both within the organization and in the outside world). There is nothing wrong to make rebranding but the reasons for such one should be properly communicated to all the relevant audiences. And I don’t mean “we are getting better”-stuff but real reasons.
    Just a short example: some years ago I made rebranding for the company Balkan Star (www.balkanstar.com). The emphasis was put over the whole automotive solutions that the company had to offer and also the new logo had to be more up-to-date visually, it had to be applicable for all the new companies which had split from the basic one 6 months ago and it also indicated change in management after years. But most of all the logo indicated new direction of thinking the relations between the represented automotive brands and the corporate one.

  • I’m afraid the ‘brand disasters’ get much more press than the successes, and usually focus on the visuals rather than the bigger picture – the Olympics 2012 visual branding was not universally ‘liked’ when launched, but it does stand out, works well on lots of different media and is flexible to apply – is that a success? quite possibly. Compare that with the rather boring, but likeable Rio 2016 logo just launched…

  • Some excellent points — and interesting commentary, Keith! Are you feeling that a rebranding effort (or logo change) isn’t “successful” if it receives as much ridicule as Starbucks’ effort received? I’m thinking that we’ll really only be able to judge the change’s level of success when enough time has passed and enough data has been gathered. Since I’m not a branding expert, can you give me a little more insight into whether I’m off base?

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