Rebranding? Make sure you do it for the right reasons and in the right way

 So, the big question is – did Hermes really think that by rebranding, people would forget all about their shoddy service and questionable delivery antics? That The Times investigation would be swept under the carpet and the numerous complaints on social media would just vanish?

Obviously, they claim their rebrand has nothing to do with negative PR, but instead is a response to ‘two years of dramatic growth’ with the CEO Martijn de Lange commenting:

“It heralds a new culture and an even better way of doing things in an ever-evolving world, building on our achievements and successes.”

If that really is the case, then their rebrand couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially since their new name is ‘Evri’.  You can’t tell us that not one person in the marketing department didn’t at least raise the issue about the inevitable jokes about ‘evri’ parcel going missing!

And that’s the thing about rebranding. Not only do you have to do it right, but you have to do it for the right reasons. Get either of those wrong and you’ll be getting lots of PR, but it won’t be good, as Hermes has so beautifully demonstrated.

So, if you are thinking about rebranding, these are some of the things you should always factor into your plans.

Remember your brand story

In a desire to appeal to different target audiences, more than one company has been guilty of planning a rebrand without really thinking about their existing customer base or how they feel about the brand.  The infamous Post Office rebrand of 2001 is a case in point.

Spending a whopping £2 million Royal Mail changed its name to Consignia in an attempt to appeal to more corporate customers and to compete with the likes of FedEx and UPS.

The name was meant to be ‘modern, meaningful and entirely appropriate’ and to ‘describe the full scope of what the post office does in a way that the words post and office cannot’.

The public disagreed and when the BBC News called the new name a ‘duffer’ and a ‘howling waste of money’ you just knew Consignia’s days were numbered. It vanished a year later.

The mistake they made was to completely disregard how their current customers felt about their brand. Steeped in tradition and heritage, Royal Mail is part and parcel of British life so changing it to a bland name which had to be explained was never going to be successful.

Always remember, you brand isn’t just about a logo. It’s also about your brand’s story, and how your customers feel about it, and as Royal Mail demonstrated, disregard this at your peril.

Be consistent across all creative

Saga’s rebrand is a timely one.  They acknowledge themselves that they haven’t really moved with the times and that the over-50s market has changed significantly. So, rebranding to focus on ‘experience rather than age’ and the positives of getting older is a great move.

Just a shame they haven’t ensured this applies to all their assets. Yes, they’ve got some great TV ads which perfectly get across the point that being older is amazing, but then you look at their website.

The colours feel old, fuddy-duddy and suspiciously reminiscent of the bathroom suites you used to get back in the 1960s! To be fair, it’s the same colours as their logo but it lacks any kind of vibrance, fun or excitement. It feels safe, comforting, and yes, old. Looking at their website you would think their target market is anyone over 70 not those over 50 and it’s definitely not helped by what seems to be an inordinate amount of focus on cruises.

If you’re planning a rebrand it has to be across all your assets. Simply focusing on one area isn’t enough as this will just confuse your audience and erode your brand’s identity.

Remember, changing perceptions can take time

‘How do you double the value of a Skoda? Fill it with petrol’.

Remember the stigma that used to surround owning a Skoda back in the day? For many brands, past issues present a real problem for rebranding especially if it’s anything to do with reliability or how a brand is perceived by the general public.

It’s one of the reasons brands such as Volvo and Toyota have luxury vehicle divisions. They know people don’t associate them with ‘luxury’ so rather than trying to persuade them otherwise, it’s quicker and easier to set up new brands.

And who can blame them. It was over 20 years ago that Skoda rebranded to focus on quality and while it did work (in 2001 Skoda was one of the fastest-growing car brands in the UK), a little bit of stigma still exists.

So, if you are planning on trying to change your brand’s image remember it can take time for the general public to forget their old perceptions. But it will happen if managed correctly. Look at Old Spice. Always considered an old man’s aftershave, thanks to a clever social media strategy and more modern imagery, it’s now appealing to a younger demographic.

We’ll be fascinated to see where Skoda takes their brand next when they launch a new design language later this year.

Don’t change your brand for the sake of it

GAP changed their logo back in 2010. It was withdrawn and replaced with the original logo after 6 days. Yep, just 6 paltry days!

Now referred to as  ‘Gapgate’, many thought it was a PR stunt to generate lots of free publicity, especially since they didn’t tell anyone the rebrand was happening.  However, the online backlash from loyal customers was crushing with GAP eventually admitting they should have consulted (or at least told) their customers about the change. And the reason for a new logo? Because they hadn’t changed it for over 20 years!

The morale of the story – don’t change your brand because you want to give your marketing department something to do!

How to get it right

And finally, a brand that’s got it right – ITV. Back in 2006, ITV rebranded with a new logo and idents designed to represent a ‘modern, unifying brand identity’ for all of its channels. It was such a departure from their old logo, that initially we were a bit sceptical. But in retrospect, they played a blinder.

Not only has it clearly differentiated them from all the other TV channels, who now seem somewhat formal and boring, it has allowed them scope for ongoing creativity, whether that’s the logo changing colour depending on the programme or the different idents created by student artists.

So, it can be done. But as we said at the beginning you have to ensure you are doing it for the right reasons and then do it in the right way.

It’s why our branding workshops aren’t just about creating a great look and feel. They help build a strategic foundation through which a company, product or service can create a relationship with the target audience. And ultimately, that’s what any rebrand should do.

So,  if you are thinking about rebranding, please get in touch to find out how we can help you avoid some of the howlers experienced by other companies.