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It’s a fact of life that sometimes things have to change. Logos and brands, just like people, also need makeovers. Some logos change after many years, while others change every 10 years or even less.
While some of the most common reasons for rebranding are mergers and acquisitions, other developments such as a change in staff, a new company vision or the need to repair a damaged image also play a role. We will look at all the signs that scream “time to rebrand!” and include recognizable examples for each.
By the end, you should be able to analyze your own situation to see if it is indeed time to consider a rebranding strategy. If you prefer to watch instead of read, check out the video version at the end of this post!
You can view the visual summary of this post below or skip ahead to read a detailed explanation of the different situations in which a rebrand is necessary.
A merger is when two companies unite forces and become one. Both arrive to the mix with their own branding and logo so a new identity needs to be created. This involves a complete rebrand that showcases the best qualities of each company. Here are three ways a name can be chosen after a merger, as part of a brand makeover:
When United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged together in 2010, the name stayed as United Airlines and incorporated the Continental Airlines globe icon.
After the original rebranding, there was another in which "airlines" was removed. The current logo is just United and the globe. You can see the complete logo progression on Logopedia.
When Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged in 1998, they joined their names into one new name, Price Waterhouse Coopers.
That merger rebrand went through another facelift in 2010 and became PwC, a much simpler and modern combination.
Back in 2000, the telecommunication companies Bell Atlantic and GTE merged together to create Verizon. This merger was one of the largest in business history. They decided to create an entirely new name in order to expand their clientele. The new name Verizon is a mix of the latin word for truth “veritas” and horizon. The new name is much more solid than Bell Atlantic, GTE or a mix of both. Verizon also underwent a logo facelift since the merger, changing the Z and shrinking the check mark.
In 2011, AOL News merged with the Huffington Post. AOL knew the power of the name Huffington Post so they kept it. They added “media group” only to confirm that Huffington Post had just expanded exponentially. This year, The Huffington Post Media Group went through another major rebrand and is now HuffPost.
When one company buys another, it is called an acquisition. Name changes depend greatly on the power of each company involved, just like it does with mergers. One of the most notorious recent acquisitions is Facebook buying Instagram.
When Facebook bought the photo-sharing application, it changed a lot; not only the way the app works but also how it looks. Instagram and Facebook are more similar to each other every day, solidly developing the Facebook / Instagram brand.
Although Facebook bought the photo-editing and sharing app in 2012, it wasn’t until last year that Instagram finally underwent a full rebrand. The original logo, a representation of an analog polaroid camera, was replaced with a digital version in pink and orange.
The rebrand was huge and not everyone approved, especially die-hard Instagram fans. Nonetheless, the rebrand sent a clear message of how Instagram was leaving behind analog to embrace digital.
Merger and acquisitions are not the only reasons why big companies rebrand. When a new CEO, marketing director or editor-in-chief is appointed, companies usually devise a new rebranding strategy. To celebrate the new face of the company, the logo and marketing schemes are given a makeover as well.
The Huffington Post underwent a rebranding this year when Arianna Huffington resigned. Lydia Polgreen took her place as new editor-in-chief in early 2017. Not long after, the name and the look of the website were changed to reflect the changes inside the company. The new name is HuffPost.
In 2013, Yahoo changed its old-fashioned 90s logo for a new purple version when new CEO Marissa Mayer took the helm of the technology company. Before launching the new purple logo, they published a new logo every day for a month. This year, Yahoo was acquired by Oath, a Verizon company, but so far they have not changed the purple logo.
Sometimes a brand acquires an image it never intended to have. This can happen for many reasons: bad marketing, poor production choices or inconsistent messaging. If this has happened to your brand, you might need to change more than just your logo. You might need to do a complete image makeover to reposition your brand in the minds of your intended consumers.
Almost everyone can recognize the checkered fabric of a Burberry scarf. But for many years, Burberry's image was affected by poor marketing choices. In the 1990s, the high-end, luxury brand decided to expand and reach more people by lowering prices. They abandoned the iconic Burberry trench coat and introduced more popular designs.
Unfortunately, this change had a negative impact on the brand. By the end of the 1990s, Burberry had been adopted as the brand of choice by chavs, a low-class group known for being loud, obnoxious and lovers of wearing designer brands. The phenomenon became so widespread that many pubs in the UK banned drinkers wearing emblematic, checkered Burberry clothing.
The company decided to create a rebranding strategy. Their facelift went much further than changing just their logo; in fact, the logo hardly changed at all. The steps they took to completely change their image is an extensively documented success story and one of the most noteworthy examples of rebranding done right.
If your company has been around for a few years or more, your original customers will have probably grown up. Are those same customers who are now part of a different age group still your ideal customers?
Maybe your brand has primarily been successful with women even though it’s a gender-neutral brand. It might be that your logo and branding were not designed to a high professional standard and your ideal client never really found you. The best way to regain ground is to do a professional rebrand that will really speak for your brand.
Both MTV News and TNT are cable television brands that were very successful in the 80s and 90s. Their viewers back then were young teenagers and young adults. These kids grew up and are now much older. Most of them are parents and don’t watch MTV anymore.
Last year, MTV News embarked on a mission to regain their position as the preferred news outlet of teenagers. First, they analyzed how teenagers had changed from the 80s and 90s until now. The biggest difference was that they don’t watch TV anymore and spend most of the time on their phones. MTV News hired a fresh team of journalists and millennial influencers to help them. They didn’t change their iconic logo, but they sure changed their image!
Another huge rebrand that MTV has undertaken is the search for a new look for the VMAs (Video Music Awards). The logo for the VMAs has been changing every year since the 1990s. As of this year, the logo will remain the same.
TNT is a cable network for drama movies and series. For years, the slogan has been “We know drama.” In 2012, the brand decided to reach a younger, masculine demographic and decided to rebrand. The logo adopted a monochromatic scheme and the slogan changed to “Drama. Period.” Then again in 2014, the slogan changed to “Boom” and the name to "TNT Drama." The new logo without the white circle is the latest version. You can see the TNT logo progression here.
A solid mission statement is a very important part of your branding. It needs to be concise and to the point. Over time, however, your mission statement may change. Your initial products might not have been as successful as you thought they would be. In hindsight, the trajectory you had planned for your brand might have taken a different but better course.
Airbnb started off as an app to help budget travelers find an affordable alternative: someone’s spare bedroom. The app and service took off to unexpected heights quite quickly. The available listings started becoming more upscale. Adding on to spare futons and couches, travelers could also rent a beachfront apartment or a house in the countryside. The Airbnb phenomenon and how it grew from a simple idea into a huge enterprise inspired a book called "The Airbnb Story."
The Airbnb rebrand in 2014 was a big undertaking and is one of the most memorable of recent years. The process was long, fun and very interesting. The new logo even has a name: the “Belo.” It is a play on words for “belonging" and the idea is that it embodies four principles: People, Places, Love and Airbnb.
Staying relevant is important for any brand. Some brands renew their image and logo constantly, while others change them every decade in a minimal but memorable way. Three famous brands that have stayed relevant over the years are Starbucks, Apple and BMW.
These brands have been around for a long time and they always know how to stay ahead of the game, or at least never fall behind. Their logos have changed over time to represent the brand perfectly. They know how to keep their loyal customers happy and coming back for more.
It is definitely time to rebrand if you have just undergone a merger, an acquisition or a change in staff. We strongly recommend that you consider devising a new rebranding strategy if your company fits some or all of the descriptions provided in the other four circumstances mentioned.
There are also two alternatives to a rebrand you might want to consider: Improve on what you already have or start over completely. No matter which route you take, there are things that need to be taken into consideration before changing your logo and marketing scheme. Rebranding might be a bit more complicated than branding for the first time. Let’s look at the steps you need to take.
Before you start a rebrand, you need to:
Then, the actual rebrand is a lot like the initial branding process:
We have also created a video version of this post to help you better understand when it's time to rebrand and how to craft a successful rebranding strategy for your business. Check out the full video below.
Do you think your organization needs to devise a rebranding strategy? If you are still not sure, why not ask your customers and clients? Ask them if they think your brand and logo are still relevant and reflect your values and offerings. Do they still feel attracted to it?
You can also visit your competitors' sites to see if they've rebranded recently. Take all these factors into consideration, talk to all types of clients and you will surely find out if it is indeed time to rebrand.