A brand is your company’s presence in the world—online and off. A brand is the personality you exude and the promise you extend through the products and services you deliver and the way you deliver them. A brand is more than a logo, but a logo (and your language and the advertising channels through which your logo and language appear) is a huge part of your brand.
To be effective in gaining new clients and securing the loyalty of existing ones, your brand must be intentional, conscious, fully developed…and stable!
Evolution vs. Identity Crisis
As individuals, we all have a core identity—”a unique constellation of attributes” (to borrow John Cusack’s words) that make each of us distinct from everyone else. Inevitably, we change—our hairstyles and clothing reflects current trends, our opinions are refined as we acquire more knowledge and experience.
But we do not change who we fundamentally are. If we betray our true selves, we feel lost and we confuse others, and that confusion may cost us loyal friends.
The same consequences await businesses who re-brand to fit every changing whim.
The commercial world is evolving rapidly with the introduction of new technologies, changes in consumer priorities (which often reflect economic conditions), etc. And these are certainly factors that your business must respond to in order to remain relevant to your customers. However, your core values, mission, unique value proposition (UVP) and the look and language you’ve trained the world to recognize as a representation of those values, mission and UVP should remain steadfast.
If you radically change what your customers have come to recognize as your brand, you confuse them and undermine their trust. Imagine what would happen if Nike, for instance, decided to change the “Swoosh.” How long do you think it would take for someone to recognize Nike shoes or athletic attire if it had a δ on the side? How long would it take to reestablish loyalty after the change?
If customers who no longer recognize you and question whether or not you offer the same things—products, services, values—you did before, they will begin to look elsewhere.
When to Change or Stay the Same?
Having strongly cautioned you against the dangers of trendy re-branding, we do recognize that it is the nature of all things, including your business, to change. And some changes require re-branding and may even present an opportunity to do so without suffering the consequences of an identity crisis.
If your company merges or acquires a competitor, for instance, you may re-brand to capitalize on the values added by your new asset without compromising those you’ve already established. Older businesses may need to revamp their brand to reflect the adoption of new core values or an overhaul in the way things are run or done in your company.
Updated identities may be necessary to remain competitive and sustain growth. But expanding your target market or introducing a new product line do not always necessitate and entirely new identity. When considering re-branding, businesses must carefully analyze the concrete and potential costs vs. potential benefits.