When is it okay for me to Rebrand? or Redesign?

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 10/25/2016

Thoughts on rebranding, from logos to web design

If I told you that your logo and brand were crucial pieces of your business, that wouldn’t really be news, would it? Maybe you don't know this, though: there is some kind of neurological, psychological effect that occurs when someone sees a logo they like or don’t like. Let’s talk a little bit about what goes on in your brain when you see a logo and what implications this may have when rebranding.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
-Jeff Bezos

The Neuro Part

From the moment we come into contact with a logo, what happens? How do our brains process the image and respond?

According to Rob Marsh, the first thing we can perceive is the shape, size, and colors. This is done in the Primary Visual Cortex, where the signals are received from the eyes. Each piece is then grouped together to make out the object.

So now the brain’s Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex match the image with previous experiences where it can go on to adding “semantic attributes” to the logo. So when you see it, you’ll experience some kind of emotional response accompanying the logo. This helps to shape preference and provide meaning and recognition to the brand.

We all have brand preferences that we’re “loyal” to. Mine? Xbox. So exposure to this brand would trigger parts of the brain that are associated with positive emotions and rewards. Unknown logos are linked with negative emotions.

Implications

With all of that in mind, is rebranding a good call? There are a few instances I can come up with where rebranding might be the best move for you:

  • Your brand no longer represents your company
  • Your current branding is way out of date
  • The branding has been damaged somehow

Sometimes your company will simply outgrow your current brand. That’s fine and it’s even normal. Every company rebrands or makes some kind of adjustment at some point, especially when their branding becomes out of date. Old Spice completely changed their target demographic from older gentlemen to younger men in their 20s. They did this by giving their brand confidence and swagger, helping them compete with Axe. It still remains a popular, trusted brand.

Is your product or site not performing as well as your competitors? Sometimes the designs of a stale brand are painfully obvious. If so, it might be time to rebrand.

The success a company has with their rebranding is dependant on a lot of things. People were in an outrage when Gap tried to rebrand back in 2010 and there was a negative reaction to Starbuck simply removing “Starbucks coffee” from their logo. It could be that when you change something that people are familiar with and trust to something unknown, people lose those positive feelings for the brand. Or it could be that the new branding just isn't attractive to the respective audience.

I know, I know… I’ve made it seem like rebranding is dangerous and probably not worth it, but it is worth it. You just need to take precautions. Have any thoughts or stories on rebranding? Share them below!

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