Rebranding is increasingly being seen as a recent trend to give businesses a boost after the pandemic. However, is it worth rebranding your most recognisable asset?

When it comes to branding, your visual identity is a powerful form of communication. “What you see is what you get” – your brand’s visual identity is your most identifiable and iconic asset. Visual identity is all your imagery and graphical elements that differentiate you from others. It is everything the consumers can physically see, starting from the logo.

Studies show that 75% of people recognise a brand solely by its logo, with the Coca-Cola logo being recognisable by 94% of the global population. An exceptional and authentic logo can have an immense impact on the brand. In one study, 73% of consumers stated that they were more likely to trust and buy from a brand they recognised, while on the other hand, 60% of consumers will avoid a brand with a logo they find odd, ugly, or unappealing*.

While the average lifespan of a logo is about 10 years, visual identity redesign should be treated with care and thoughtful consideration, keeping the brand current while remaining recognisable.


Visual Identity Redesign Fail


One of the biggest examples of global rebranding fails (when it comes to visual identity) was Mastercard’s logo redesign which caused a lot of confusion. While it was time for a refresh from their original logo that most of us are familiar with, Mastercard managed to transform its iconic visual identity elements into an unappealing and messy logo, damaging its brand in the process.

Rebranding for iconic brands mostly involves simplifying the image by keeping the essentials to maintain brand recognition. However, in this case, it became the reverse. As the logo was already minimalistic to begin with, Mastercard transformed it into something more visually complicated and cluttered, with the unnecessary addition of the middle circle.

Unsurprisingly, Mastercard later decided to use this ‘new’ logo only on their corporate worldwide communications only and opted to keep their existing brand image until 2016, when a second redesign finally achieved its purpose (of being recognisable, without the fuss). Unfortunately, the failed and forgotten logo design had cost the brand a whopping US$1.5 million in design, and another US$10 million for the rebranding.


Shortest-lived Logo


Our next example illustrates one of the ‘shortest-lived’ logo changes in history, reverting to its original design after only six days of the new brand image being released. Costing even more than the Mastercard mishap, it was estimated that Gap had spent US$100 million on this unfortunate rebranding incident, a very expensive lesson indeed.

It started during the Christmas season in 2010 when Gap decided, without warning, to launch its rebranded logo. The original Gap logo that the world is has been familiar with for the past 20 years, simply disappeared and was replaced with a fading square over the word “Gap”. It was soon apparent that customers were not enthused about the new design. Negative comments were reverberating all over the internet, to the point where Gap decided (very quickly and wisely) to revert to its original logo design in under one week.


Successful “Creative Expression”


Starbucks refers to its logo as one of the company’s “most recognisable assets”, and rightly so. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of their coffee products, or not, you’re still likely to identify their logo, with a store in nearly every urban street of 76 markets worldwide.

In their branding style guide, Starbucks states that “Creative Expression is the preferred approach to use the Siren logo by itself, unlocked from the wordmark. This allows flexibility to present the Siren with greater prominence while maintaining a considered, open and modern presentation.”

This is a prime example of successfully simplifying the main visual element within the logo while maintaining brand recognition, with a cleaner, more modern appeal and gaining positive reception. The philosophy behind the redesign of their logo is explained further, seeing the need to introduce a fresh new design that maintains the core elements of the brand while highlighting the iconic green of the brand:

“We’re thoughtfully incorporating beautiful, expressive moments with calm confidence in ways that are optimistic, joyful and recognizably Starbucks. By consistently utilizing the Siren logo, an expanded palette of greens rooted in our iconic green apron and a constrained family of harmonious typefaces, we bring purpose and cohesion to every interaction customers have with our brand.”

So, is rebranding a trend worth pursuing? As you can see, rebranding for the sake of ‘updating’ your brand image can be detrimental without thoughtful planning and reason. The key is to determine the right intention for the business, and the new image you want to achieve while keeping the customer in focus. Getting it right is no easy feat – and there is little room for costly mistakes.

We at Brand for Brands understand that it may be nerve-racking, however exciting it may be to present a new brand. That’s why our experts are here, we work with you to recreate that ideal brand for today’s marketplace.

Get in touch today.