At some point in our lives, it’s highly likely we’ve all experienced brands through engagement or observation that we take one look at and question their credibility. It’s an all too common sight witnessing one slowly stagnating that has become a victim of neglect, suffering a spiralling decline; you don’t need to be a creative professional to know what makes for a brand you feel you can trust and connect with. If you’re blessed with an understanding for the importance of effective branding, alarm bells triggered by sub-standard business performance can often signify that the face of your business isn’t connecting with your target audience quite in the way it should. Rebrands typically occur when you’re struggling to create new business leads or you’ve noticed a dip in turnover and want to inject new life to provoke fresh interest. But when a business is established to the point it is one of the most successful and universally identifiable across the globe, why would it feel the need to refresh its image?
A company such as Google is a great example of a business that understood the importance of ‘growing up’. Back in 1998 when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Ph.D students at Stanford University, they would’ve been conscious of their age, considering a rebellious approach to make a statement with, providing the most impact. Parallels can be drawn from the disruptive relationship a teenager can typically have with their parents at some stage during their transition of maturity. But in a different environment with their peers, sharing space with each other, there is a desire to be taken more seriously. The same applies to a brand; there comes a time where its playful nature no longer resonates with its target audience and it needs to mature. By using it to communicate a more serious tone, a business can reinforce its changing approach and extend the longevity of the brand.
Sure, when Larry and Sergey started out at the very beginning of Google’s creation, all they had was a logo. After all, ambitious startups need to say an awful lot through the limited channels they begin with. The logo has to work hard and as the nucleus of the brand, will continue to do so indefinitely. But as a brand grows and matures, its reputation develops and experiences begin to influence a brand’s personality. With continued growth, and increased resources, there becomes more ways in which this personality can be conveyed which in turn, lightens the burden of responsibility of the logo and so this opportunity to mature becomes apparent. If we expand that context and review the transformation of other pinnacle brands that have a worldwide presence, we can see how apparent a rebrand becomes a necessity. Take a look at the logos below. Through brand recognition on the right, its clear who each of the companies are. But now compare this to the left hand column containing their original identities before they made their mark of domination. Which column of logos do you feel you are more likely to form a connection with in today’s world? Which do you feel you is more trustworthy to deliver its products or services? The simple fact is, they have all understood the power of branding and how changes in society, trends and the growing awareness of their identity. Can you imagine them reaching the same heights of success they have experienced if they had kept faith in their original logos?
Some have even gone a step further and there are now many high profile examples of brands that have recently opted to evolve through the simplification of their image. Whilst there are clear demonstrations of development and no questioning on the advances in maturity, consumer feedback has been sketchy to put it lightly, drawing criticism that this notable over simplicity eradicates the emotional response it should trigger. There is a risk that there is too much reliance on loyalty and brand recognition and not enough investment in future-proofing. Differentiation is what gives a brand its distinct personality and character, so are these examples taking the notion of ‘growing up’ too far? Do we still feel that emotional connection in the same way we did before? Or does simplification mean diversification and enhanced versatility?
The jury is still out on that particular debate but one that can not be argued is that brands naturally evolve. Whether they a borne from a hastily put together scribble or an intricately crafted masterpiece, it is important to understand that sooner or later, change will be a requirement to enhance future success. Sadly, there will always be business owners who struggle to see the value in committing time and financial investment into such a thing but it is up to us, as brand advocates to educate the value in conveying the company’s character and personality through unique brand identity.