The idea of a brand is a short but comprehensive embodiment of everything the company stands for. As a company grows, it often needs to re-position or rebrand itself in order to keep up with the times, and often due to losses in market share. So, even though rebranding is an expensive (and sometimes risky) undertaking, most companies do it to express their constant evolution and reinvention.
But what makes rebranding successful? The single most important aspect to keep in mind is that your company is not just selling a product, but it is rather selling a set of ideas and even a lifestyle. It’s also substantial for every brand to build strong emotional connections with its consumers. Here are examples of brands that have succeeded doing just that:
The Japanese imaging products company actually started life as Kwanon. The name was derived from the Buddhist goddess of mercy, who is known in Japan as Kannon. When the company expanded in 1935, they adopted a name that they thought would appeal to a wider audience. Since “canon” had a similar pronunciation and positive associations, the word became the company’s new name. The details of the first Canon logo design depicted “Kwanon with 1,000 Arms” and flames. Much more of an Illustration and they quickly changed the logo into a simpler and more effective workmark in 1934. Finally, in 1935 the name Kwanon is changed to Canon and the logo design is officially trademarked: the company’s name in a typeface which at that time did not exist in North America or Europe. Since then the logo has undergone a few refinements, but no major overhauls.
Nike probably got the best deal among all companies when Caroline Davidson designed its logo for just $35 in 1971. The logo was first used with the brand name appearing behind it. Though the original logos were never retired (you can still purchase ‘vintage’ gear with the original logos), as the brand gained recognition, the company name was dropped from the logo, in favor of the ‘Solo Swoosh’, which made it more simplistic and memorable. The company has different variations of this logo for its various departments like Skate, Soccer etc.
In 2011, coffee-house conglomerate Starbucks made significant updates to their iconic logo and other marketing communications. The goal was not only to refresh the mark, but to free the Siren from the ring, allowing her to be treated more artistically.
Before it became the giant retailer that it is today, Wal-Mart was a single discount store in Rogers, Arkansas. As the company grew by leaps and bounds, the logo underwent only minor changes. The “Discount City” logo introduced in 1968 was used on employee smocks but never on store signage. It seems that the retailer hasn’t made many drastic changes over the years. The most noticeable alteration was in 2008 when the star was moved from the middle of the name to the end, leaving the official Wal-Mart logo without a separator (like a hyphen or a star) for the first time in over 40 years. Interestingly, the current logo looks a lot more like the company’s original logo.
Tracing IBM’s logo back to its origins brings us back to 1889, when the International Time Recording business was founded. In 1911, ITR merged with the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company — the forerunner of IBM. About a decade later, the tongue-twisting Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company simplified its name to the International Business Machines Corporation. “The ornate, rococo letters that formed the “CTR” logo were replaced by the words “Business Machines” in more contemporary sans-serif type, and in a form intended to suggest a globe, girdled by the word “International,” according to the company’s site. The company’s current logo was design by Paul Rand in 1972, and “horizontal stripes now replaced the solid letters to suggest ‘speed and dynamism.’”
All in all, when it comes to reinventing your company, one of the most important things is to hire the right agency: one that can understand the process of branding and the importance of design aesthetic.
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