Changing your logo isn’t the same as changing your brand

While most businesses place a lot of emphasis on their visual identity, many fail to realise that simply updating or refreshing their logo isn’t the same as changing the brand, writes uberbrand's Dan Ratner.

Your brand is not a logo. A brand is defined as a perception that is held in peoples’ minds. That perception is formed and, potentially, altered based on experiences with the brand. Once these perceptions are in place, the logo becomes a physical embodiment of how the audience feels about that brand and what they believe the brand delivers.

Foxtel’s recent rebrand was met with mixed reactions

What you look like, say and do communicates something about who and what you are. When changing your logo, you are communicating change to your audience. It provides opportunities re-engage with people and even to start new conversations.

Consequently, when companies change their logo without changing anything else, it opens them up to risk. People form a relationship with a brand over time. The more the brand delivers on expectations, the more entrenched those expectations become. A new logo leads to new expectations. When the brand fails to deliver on the new expectations, customers can become confused, or at worst disenfranchised.

Choosing to refresh or change your logo should be part of a broader effort to reposition the brand. Customer loyalty is harder to earn and people’s expectations of what a brand should offer changes constantly. Companies may choose a brand refresh to keep up with those evolving expectations but their efforts need to reflect those changes and can’t be limited to a simple logo change.

In fact, a logo change is merely one small tactic among many that can help reposition a brand. A company’s brand identity is much more than just visual elements. It includes messaging and tone of voice. It needs to reflect a company’s personality and align with its services or product offering.

A new logo will tell the world the brand has changed, but it’s up to the brand to back this up with actions.

Tropicana’s recent rebrand hindered sales after customers failed to recognise it as the same brand

It’s therefore essential for brands to understand exactly how to communicate that they’ve changed. Best to start with real change. Examples of this could be in response to a new business acquisition, changing capabilities, new competitors, or disruption. Whatever the impetus for the change, it should be real and tangible. Then, the new or refreshed logo can be designed to reflect that authentic difference.

When updating or changing a logo, it’s imperative to understand exactly what the change is and what it means for the brand’s customers. This involves rationalising the change in context to what people think today and what you want them to think of your brand in the future.

The business must start by understanding those perceptions and consider how they may go about to influence them. If it can do this successfully, then customers will understand the context of change and have a greater potential for acceptance of a new logo or identity.

In fact, it’s essential to understand how customers actually perceive the brand, rather than how the company thinks they perceive the brand. Starting from a place of truth is essential and may require some preliminary benchmarking and research so that the strategy can be validated.

Customers are an important factor in the change journey. Businesses must take customers with them, ensuring they understand what the change is, why it happened, what it means for them, and what to do now. Then customers can buy into the new brand identity and remain loyal. They won’t do this if the change happens prematurely, before the business can back up its new identity with actions. The visual identity isn’t the first step, it’s the final piece of the puzzle.

Most companies can’t view their own brand objectively. That makes it crucial for organisations to partner with the right people to take a strategy-led, honest, authentic approach to rebranding. To do otherwise is to invite failure, which can result in irreparable brand damage.

Getting it right, however, can cement existing loyalties, attract new customers, reinvigorate employees, and position the business for exponential growth.

Dan Ratner is strategy director at uberbrand.


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