Before you rush into a rebranding strategy, first consider how your customers view your business. Sue Dobbe, of Dobbe Marketing, reflects on one brand update gone horribly wrong.
Don’t create a gap in comfort and trust just because you want something new.
It’s become commonplace to see a business aggressively advertise a new brand image or logo. Judging from their advertising, it’s easy to see that the business’ leaders are thrilled with the change. Ads in the paper, posts on Facebook, tweets, Instagrams, YouTube videos – a lot of excitement is generated.
The company obviously invested a great deal of time and money in crafting its new image, but it turns out customers don’t always like the new look. Sometimes, they actually preferred the old image!
As the leaders of the Gap apparel store learned a few years back, the evolution of a known brand must be done carefully, with respect for the brand that has already been built. In 2010, Gap updated its logo and it was met with disastrous results.
That fall, as they prepared for the holiday shopping season, the Gap team decided to retire its classic blue square that had been in place since 1986. They chose to replace it with a font-focused logo that had a blue square tucked under the “p”.
The new image lasted just one week. ONE WEEK! Due to intense backlash, Gap management quickly reinstated the company’s previous logo, which you’ll still find in stores today.
Gap’s attempted, font-focused logo has often been referred to as one of the worst logos of all time.
Don’t repeat Gap’s branding mistake.
If you think your brand image is getting stale, do some research before taking any action. Remember, you live and work with your brand 24/7. Your customers do not. They may find your brand image comfortable and trustworthy. Hire a seasoned research consultant to obtain objective insight on your brand. A professional researcher can keep your personal perceptions from overshadowing the real results.
It’s also important to engage your stakeholders. Explore focus groups and glean perspective from your employees, colleagues, clients, neighbors and others with opinions about your brand.
When researching your brand, first ask if your brand message is getting stale. Then, consider whether your customers experience a sense of sameness:
• Same messages
• Same media
• Same logo
• Same slogan
• Same spokesperson
• Same products
• Same customers… or maybe fewer
If you answered yes to both of these questions, it might be time for a brand evolution. But do it strategically. Make small changes to enliven and refresh your message and its reception. Learn from your research. Keep what works and tweak what is weak.
Susan Dobbe is president of Dobbe Marketing & PR Inc. Founded in 1989, this brand strategy agency leads businesses, organizations and municipalities to build brand image, awareness and communication.