High Street Rebranding 1
In this discussion will investigate how effective the rebranding of a company is. I will do this by looking at the way in which the public, consumers in general and the brand’s customers, reacted to the new brand image. By looking at both successful and failed rebranding ventures, to discover what strategies make a successful rebrand and what companies can do to avoid failure. To investigate this discussion will look into rebranding which had taken place between 2000 and the present, 2012 including well known high street brands as these companies are mostly in the public eye and cause more of a reaction from a larger range of people. The reason for choosing this particular subject to investigate is a keen interest in branding and how the public react to brands. Chapter one ‘What is Branding?’ Gives a brief history of branding and how and why it was used in history and why that has affected us today. Chapter two ‘Successes in Rebranding’ looks at successful rebranding, Virgin Media, Marks & Spencer
and ITV, and why these rebrands were successful and what kept the consumer interested in them. Chapter three ‘Failures in Rebranding’, will look at three company rebrands which were not successful, how the public reacted and why, and how the company managed the unsuccessful rebrand. We live in the 21st century, a time where the market is saturated with different companies competing with one another to sell their products. One of the major factors in this fight for increased market share is how the company is seen, their brand and brand values. Each company wants to be the best, they want to be different, and so they want their brand to be significant. The brand needs to have a unique selling point to stay in the competition, it needs to gain customer loyalty and entice new customers into the brand. The following is an investigation examining how the rebrand of certain companies either helped or damaged their brand image.
what is branding?
The Oxford Dictionary describes branding as ‘the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design’ (Oxford Dictionary, no date.). This definition seems to understate the value of branding. Branding is a huge market, a brand is can create positive or negative feelings towards a product; it makes the company more recognisable. Branding relies heavily on communicating brand values, these are ‘How the vision and promises are delivered to the consumer. The small number of descriptive behaviors that the brand is to exemplify. These are to represent the company, brand and employees. Examples include passion, inventiveness, respect, honesty, collaboration.’ (Branson, B. no date.) Although branding is seen as quite a modern thing, especially during the late 1900s and ¬early 2000, where it was used not only for companies and products, but also universities, charities and even people, branding has been used throughout history to identify products from different craftsman and to claim ownership. ‘In the 1200s England required bread makers, goldsmiths and silversmiths to put their marks on goods, primarily to insure honesty in measurement.’ (Fusco, C. no date.) ‘Between the 1600s and 1800s, criminals were branded (again literally) as a form of punishment and identification. For instance, in England, they branded an S on a person’s cheek, while in France; they branded a fleur de lis on the shoulder. As repugnant as it may be to us today, slaves were also branded roughly during the same time period to connote ownership.’ (Daye, D. 2006.) Surprisingly branding can be dated back even further to 1300BC, giving branding a history of over 5000 years. ‘As far back as 1300 BC, potter’s marks were used on pottery and porcelain in China, Greece, Rome and India. Branding of cattle and livestock go back as far as 2000 BC.’ (Fusco, C. no date.) Although in history branding was used to differentiate between different craftsman and to insure honesty in measurement, you can see how branding still incorporates these aspects but has also moved on a grown since then. Branding is now used to attract new customers, communicate the brands values and create customer loyalty. Branding in now highly competitive and is a constant game of on-upping the brands competitors to gain the largest market share. ‘But at some point in the twentieth century branding became pervasive. The maintenance of brand image and value was the driving force for producers and brand owners and national – even global – brand names came to dominate local markets. In the post war West against the backdrop of the Cold War, to be an active participant in a consumer society became increasingly regarded as a basic human right. The idea of citizenship becomes framed around the idea of consumership and this ‘redefinition of rights and obligations articulated itself in the seemingly innocuous language of soft drinks, cars and household appliances.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 32)
Branding really took a great importance in a company’s strategy during the industrial revolution where products were able to be mass produced. With the effect of the depression (1930s) and WWII (1939 to 1945), consumers did not want to spend money, so companies in the 1950s created modern day branding a way that would identify their products to the masses using posters, radio and eventually television, making to products appeal more to customers by creating things such as brand values to entice customers to be loyal and buy only their products. ‘The brand became the new expression of assurance. It laid the foundation for the modern confidence of the purchaser when buying commodities, which he could neither try nor test before use. This applies in particular to articles for which a guarantee is given; the branded article means, more or less, a direct relationship between the consumer and the producer.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 33) This new assurance between customer and producer, created the start of companies establishing their brand values. Whether it be quality, swiftness or even just always being helpful and making the customer feel valued, brands had to decide what they want to communicate with their customer base, and make sure that their customers heard what was being said. ‘So how is brand value established? The invention of a new brand overnight with subsequent rapid marketing is unlikely to be a success. Brands with strong images are the product of successful nurturing of the relationship between producer and consumer. They also require economic investment, marketing and corporate nurturing. The most recognisable brands tend to maintain their position by establishing loyalty and ubiquity, by becoming the market standard.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 23) As said in the quote above brands need strong images and values to create that important relation ship between producer and consumer. Expressing these strong images and brand values in an effective way is a core reason why certain brands succeed. ‘Your Brand is the ultimate collection of views and opinions people hold about you in their mind. It encompasses everything: quality of experience, look and feel, customer care, retail and web environments and creative execution across all touch-points.’ (Lemley, D. no date.) ‘ In some cases, the brand name becomes the generic name for that product, such as Hoover, Coke, Walkman or Rollerblade. For certain products, what started out as a brand name has become so generic that it can not be protected by a trademark: aspirin, yo-yo, thermos and escalator are all terms that began life as brand names. The familiarity of names such as these demonstrates the rise to prominence of the brand in the last century. Brands are a part of the twentieth century mythology.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 23) Use of Brand names to describe household items such as ‘Hoover’ instead of vacuum cleaner and ‘Brillo’ instead of wire wool goes to show just how much branding has been integrated with our day to day lives and also how brand aware we are in the 21st century.
One of the greatest examples of just how successful a brand can be is Apple, people queue for hours just to get the latest iPhone or Macbook, buying the products without even trying them because the consumer is sure that the product will be of high quality and great technical specification. Appleâ€™s advances in technology are a sure reason why their products are so popular but the brand also has a massive impact on the popularity, showing each new product as hip and cool and the must have item of the year. Even though there is sure to be release a better model in 6 months (e.g. iPhone 4s) people still want to upgrade straight away so that they do not get left behind.
A recent phenomenon surround the Apple brand was the amount of tweets posted from people complaining that they did not receive an iPhone for Christmas, there were comments complaining that they had received the wrong colour iPod, and even a phew furious tweets stating that they had received a car for Christmas but not an iPhone. â€˜Angry: Most of the complaints were from entitled individuals saying they were upset after not receiving an Apple iPhone, iPad or car on Christmas Day.â€™ (Duell, M. 2011.)
It is hard to believe that someone would be angry that they had received a car and not a phone, but it does prove that Apple is such a sought after brand that teenagers are preferring to receive iPhones instead of cars. Some teenagers were even angry because they got an iPhone, just not in the right colour, the white coloured iPhone was only slightly newer than the existing black iPhone, but because it was Apple, and it was the newer version everyone wanted the white one.
Reason why companies may need to rebrand could be a mixture of different reasons. They may need to create a unique selling point to gain an advantage on the competition. The company may also be old and dated and need to create a new look to capture the attention of a younger audience. Some companies need to refresh their image after a larger amount of bad press to dissociated themselves from their existing brand and start on a new clean slate with new improved brand values so that they are not seen negatively in the media and by consumers anymore. ‘In the commercial world, consumer products are generally rebranded for one or more of the following reasons: •The product has failed •The product has grown tired •The product’s reputation has been severely damaged •The world has changed but the product hasn’t •Consumer tastes have changed dramatically •The company has been taken over by another •The company has lost its way •There is a new managing director or chairman.’ (Buncle, T. 2009)
As shown in the brand life cycle above, once a brand has hit maturity, it’s sale will start to decline, a way in which to combat this decline in innovation, this can be releasing a new product to upgrade the brands image, or it can be to rebrand so that the brand is fresh, new and up to date. Some companies, revamp their logos, whereas others completely rebrand the company changing the name logo and sometimes even brand values, this however is extremely risky, the new brand values could attract a huge new range of consumers but may alienate the existing loyal customers and if the new values are not successful the company has lost most of it’s new and existing market. Changing just the look of the brand, for example the logo can have a huge effect in the way in which the public see the brand ‘The logo is the point of entry to the brand.’ (Glazer, M. 1995. P 21.) The main targets in most business is to survive and to make a profit, when either of these two are in jeopardy, it can be time to think about rebranding the company, to refresh the image and attract new customers and profits. The next chapter will look at how successful a brand can be if executed correctly.
successes in rebranding
Rebranding, if done successfully, can be an innovative way in which to revamp a dated image and attract a larger clientele. The launch of a rebrand can thrust the company into the media again; getting the public to talk about the business can increase interest, and therefore increase sales, which is an excellent result and is essentially why rebrand is done.
virgin media In February 2007, Virgin Mobile and NTL Telewest rebranded following a £962 million merger to create Virgin Media (BBC News. 2006.); a multichannel business including telephone, mobile, cable television and broadband Internet. ‘NTL never really had a brand culture, although it did do some advertising. So we’ve had to create this culture across the whole organisation.’ (Billings, S. 2007.) Virgin Media’s main competitors are Sky, BT and Talk Talk, already big established brand names, so Virgin Media had to create a new innovative brand image to move on from the dated look of NTL Telewest and to attract customers who had previously used the services of its competitors. Virgin, as a brand name, had already grounded itself as a ‘cool’ well known brand with it’s other business ventures such as Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Megastores, the latter unfortunately closed stores in the UK, Ireland, Spain, US, Canada, Australia and Japan but still has stores open in France, Greece, Australia and the middle east and gulf countries. (Virgin. no date.) However, although the eventual closure of Virgin Megastores did make a dent in the brands image, the brand Virgin still remained a ‘cool’ brand, and people were sad to see the stores go. This help considerably when rebranding into Virgin Media, the main values communicated by the branding was to say that Virgin Media is the newest, most modern and innovative broadband and cable TV provider, the logo produced for the company really shows the modernity of the company especially compared to the dated looks of BT and Talk Talk. ‘When moving into areas of business where it has no previous experience, Virgin is relying upon the image of Branson as ‘the consumer’s friend’ who brings personality to faceless industries and business practices. The success of the Virgin brand is firmly tied to the cult of personality. What Branson offers is a specific character of service and a reputation for challenging authorative brands (for instance, his public battles with British Airways). Virgin makes ironic use of the ‘rules’ of branding as part of its brand image; when Virgin cola was first launched, the company parodied the myth that the famous 1930’s Coca-Cola bottle was
based on the voluptuous curves of Mae West. Virgin produced a similar curved plastic bottle, coloured red, and christened it the ‘Pammy” after surgically enhanced Baywatch star Pamela Anderson.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 32) My family and I have recently switched from BT Broadband to Virgin Media. Our reason for choosing Virgin Media over Talk Talk or continuing with BT was because Virgin Media seemed to be more innovative and most up to date, especially because they own and operate their own fibre optic network for faster broadband speeds, and also because our neighbours recommended Virgin Media to us, their loyalty to the brand definitely swayed our decision to choose Virgin Media. ‘Virgin Television has currently around 3.4M subscribers. Virgin Broadband is the UK’s 3rd largest broadband supplier, behind Talk Talk and BT with 4M subscribers’ (KGB Answers. 2012) This is an incredible feet considering the brand Virgin Media has only been around for 5 years when ‘BT was privatised in 1984.’ (BBC News. 2001.) Already Virgin Media has established itself within the market, created brand values and gained a great amount of customer loyalty, which is key for success. Virgin Media have just started an advertising campaigning boasting that they will be doubling their customer’s broadband speeds, this enforces their brand values that they are constantly updating and improving their service so that their customers may benefit continued great service and therefore will stay loyal to the brand. Especially with the experience I have had with Virgin Media, I feel it is a huge rebranding success story, and shows that rebranding when done in the correct way can push an existing brand to triumph.
marks & spencer The first Marks & Spencer store was opened in 1893 by Michael Marks, (Marks & Spencer. no date) since then the brand has grown into one of the largest brand in the UK & Ireland with a profit of £598.6 million (after tax) in May 2011. (Marks & Spencer. 2011.) However one of the key element to its success in current the hard economical climate is it’s rebranding. In 2006 Marks & Spencer produced a strong advertising campaign, to try to improve on it’s slumped sales from the previous two years. The brand was seen as too expensive and quite a boring old fashioned company. The advertising campaign in 2006 used Twiggy as the face of the womanswear, ‘a perfect metaphor for a stylish national treasure making a spectacular comeback.’ (Sweney, M. 2006.) ‘Advertising was just one of the mechanisms that helped brands to succeed in establishing the association of physical and social ideas with particular brands.’ (Pavitt, J. 2002. P 30) At the heart of the campaign was the slogan ‘Your M&S’. The campaign was a huge success bringing in an additional 1.4 million people into the stores (Sweney, M. 2006.), it brought Marks & Spencer back into the limelight, and it changed its image, made it more stylish and more modern. The campaign was so successful for Marks & Spencer that ‘Your M&S’ became the primary brand for advertising and in store and online merchandising. Consumers have been calling Marks & Spencer ‘Marks & Sparks’, ‘Marks’ and ‘M&S’ for years before this rebrand, so the decision to change some stores to ‘Your M&S’ didn’t get a negative reaction from the public, it made the still recognisable but also made it more
accessible to a wider range of customers and pulled the brand image into the 21st century. The brand values still existed, especially that of high quality products, but the brand now looked up to date, fashionable, and also opened itself up to the younger generation who previously saw Marks & Spencer as unfashionable and just for older women. The branding of ‘Your M&S’ continued when Marks & Spencer launched its new campaign ‘This is not just food, this is M&S food.’ These series of television advertisements depicted the Marks & Spencer ready meal range in slow motion; the images were mouth watering to watch, some called it ‘food porn’ because the voiceover describing the food was slow and sultry and the way in which the food was portrayed was almost ‘sexy’. This was a risky move for Marks & Spencer who are not usually associated with being sexy, but sex sells, and the risk really paid off. ‘This is not just food, this is M&S food’ has become so well known that many parodies have been made of it including ‘It’s not just an advertising campaign, it’s an M&S advertising campaign...’ (Creativematch Graduate Recruitment. 2006.) Its depiction of the luxurious nature of its ready meal range also helped boost profits and has helped Marks & Spencer get through the credit crunch and keep it’s place among the high street names. Although Marks & Spencer will not be as big as similar stores such as Tesco or Sainsbury’s, I believe consumers will continue to shop at M&S, its new brand values of being more fashionable, luxurious and modern and it’s existing brand values of loyalty and quality will always bring customers through their doors. As it is said, ‘I do my big shop at Tesco, but I get my bits in M&S’.
â€˜The most immediately visible shift in the new branding is the departure of the blue and yellow colourâ€™ (Billings, S. 2006. P 8.)
In January 2006, ITV launched a total rebrand across all its four channels giving each channel a new identity. ITV is constantly battling for viewing figures, as is all other channels, but with the access to cable and freeview channels made easier, the fight for viewing figures became tougher, and with ITV’s rating slumping, they needed a brand refresh, a new image to attract more viewers to their channel. ‘The creative work of Red Bee Media, formerly BBC Broadcast, will sweep across ITV’s four channels, introducing reworked idents and logos at a time when the broadcaster faces a grinding erosion of advertising revenues and audience share.’ (Billings, S. 2006. P 8.) ‘ “We have tried to identify a future proof brand position, creating branding for each channel, targeting different groups and then cross promoting into shows on other channels,” says Salmon.’ (Billings, S. 2006. P 8.) The identity that ITV launched was a big step away from the existing feel to the channel, the original blocks of colour were very rigid and outdated. The rebrand, incorporated new colours, which gave each channel a different feel, but they also interacted well with each other, giving ITV the option to advertise their different channels, for example they could advertise a programme shown on ITV2, on ITV1. This rebrand was also help by the way in which ITV started to really compete with BBC and Channel 4 by showing programmes like X-Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, all having great
viewing figures, and would have been watched anyway if there was no rebrand, but because viewers saw the rebrand while watching these shows, they began to see ITV in a new light, in a more modern and exciting way, communicating that ITV were going to show more modern and exciting shows as well as existing favourites. Table Showing Viewing Figures of ITV Channels in the last week of September between 2005 and 2009. 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 ITV 1 19.9 18.9 19.7 17.7 17.9 ITV 2 2.5 2.2 2.2 2.0 2.3 ITV 3 1.1 1.5 1.2 1.7 1.6 (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board. 2009.) Above is the percentage share of viewing figures the ITV channels received for the last week in September between 2005 and 2009, I chose to look at this particular time of the year as there are no school holidays which would always increase viewing figures due to people being at home more. Although the viewing share has not increased, it has definitely stayed constant, which is a success considering more and more channels are available in the past couple of years, meaning ITV’s rebrand helped it stay strong during these times.
failures in rebranding
However sometimes a rebrand does not result in such a success as the three companies previously mentioned. A rebrand can go horribly wrong if done in the wrong way and can even cause a public outcry for the brand to revert back to its original ways.
‘The biggest blunder in recent times has to be Consignia [a short lived rebrand of the Royal Mail] but the popular outrage was not just about the name, but also about the treatment of it. If you work for an organization with 300 years of heritage, you cant simply replace it with a generic swoosh. It’s just wrong and it won’t stick. It will be interesting to see what happens to British Airways when someone decides to change the name. How do you retain the heart and soul of a well known brand like this if you remove the word British? Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell you.’ (Adamson, M. 2010. P 11.)
post office The man in charge of the new name and image by Dragon Brands, was Keith Wells. The reason behind the need of a new name was, ‘“Post Office - that was too generic. Lots of other countries had their own post offices, so it would have been a difficult name to protect abroad,” Mr Wells says. “Royal Mail - that has problems when operating in countries which have their own royal family, or have chopped the heads off their royals.” The unifying banner would have to be fashioned to a fresh design.’ (Verdin, M. 2002.) ‘The name Consignia was decided on because “It’s got consign in it. It’s got a link with insignia, so there is this kind of royalty-ish thing in the back of one’s mind. “And there’s this lovely dictionary definition of consign which is ‘to entrust to the care of’. That goes right back to sustaining trust, which was very, very important.” ‘(Verdin, M. 2002.) It made sense to change the name to something less generic if the company wanted to expand their presence to overseas trading. The reasoning behind the name is a nice idea, although it is obviously a made up word the meanings behind it do make sense, the idea of trust and royalty, which is fitting for Royal Mail. However the message was not communicated to the public, the new name sounded foreign and stripped the company of its Britishness and its heritage. The rebrand also came at a time when the group was haemorrhaging money and cutting jobs, so when the new name came, people, the public and the companies employees, associated the new identity with the dishonesty and disloyalty towards its employees and its failings as a company to produce profits.
‘Post Office/Consignia operations bled through an obscene amount of money, £1.5 million a day by some counts and for the six months preceding November 2001, £281 million (US$ 2.2M, 418M). The organization, which operates with annual sales of £8 billion (US$ 12B) and employs 220,000 people, quickly found itself between a cash-flow problem and a vocal labor force wise to labor cutting quick fixes. During one point of threatened strikes in the last year, Consignia’s own workers’ union boycotted the use of “Consignia,” and called for a return to “Post Office.” ‘ (Sauer, A. D. 2002.) A year after the rebrand to Consignia, the chairman Allan Leighton revealed that the name Consignia would be dropped “probably in less than two years.” (Sauer, A. D. 2002.) The name was ditched on 13th June 2002, sooner than predicted as the public’s view of the group was far too damaged when trading under the name Consignia. At a time when The Post Office needed to keep its brand values of heritage, trust and honour, to keep the loyalty of it’s customer during a hard time for the company, the rebrand was done in the wrong way. By introducing a new name which was created to be more available and more modern to trading overseas, the brand neglected to see the way in which the UK would react to the new brand, loosing it’s image of heritage and Britishness was possibly one of its worst mistakes the company did during its difficult time. The public do not like it when an established British institution is changed to make it less British. Instead of refreshing the brand to give it a better image during slumps in profits, it damaged its communication of its brand values. The change back to the old name was the best thing that the group did, the proof, is that The Post Office is still a widely used company, which has grown, not only to deliver mail, but now offers insurance, finance and even phone and broadband.
Pepsi always seems to be trying to refresh their image, perhaps due to being constantly runner up to Coca Cola, but 11 new logos in its history, 5 of them being in the past 25 years seems a little extreme doesn’t it? Pepsi’s Chief Marketing Officer said this about the 2008 rebrand, ‘ “We felt like, as we move out of this traditional mass marketing and mass distribution era into today’s culture, there’s an opportunity to bring humanity back, both in terms of the design but also in the way we engage consumers,” he said. “By making the logo more dynamic and more alive… [It is] absolutely a huge step in the right direction.” ‘ (Zmunda, N. 2008.) Although this rebrand hasn’t caused a hugely negative reaction from the public, it hasn’t really caused that much of a reaction at all. Some are surprised at the cost of the new logo, but overall I think because Pepsi has rebranded so much in the past, people don’t really seem to care.
‘Poor rebranding efforts are those that evoke a ‘so what’ or ‘what does that mean?’ response, which suggests the logo and its communication have failed to connect. Recently, the global Pepsi rebrand evoked a largely negative response, but it is nowhere near as bad as when Coca Cola launched New Coke in 1980sand then promptly withdrew it and instead Coca Cola Classic. To tamper with a favourite in design and product formula is a recipe for disaster.’ (Nurko, C. 2010. Voxpop. Design Week. 24 (42), p 11.) The question really is, was it worth it? Sure the new revamp and logo isn’t horrible, it still has the recognizable characteristic of the existing Pepsi logo, and the new light sans serif typeface has a more modern feel compared to the previous bold font, but considering the money spent on this venture, I don’t think the reaction to the rebrand was what Pepsi was hoping for. ‘Pepsi would not discuss what it’s paying for the revamp, but experts estimate the cost for a top firm to work five months at north of $1 million. But that’s just the
beginning. The real cost, said an expert, is in removing the old logo everywhere it appears and putting new material up. For Coke or Pepsi, when you add up all the trucks, vending machines, stadium signage, point of sale materials and more around the world, it could easily tall several hundred million dollars, the expert said.’ (Zmunda, N. 2008.)
However, what’s certainly clear is that it has been effective in increasing Pepsi’s digital presence, which has had a positive impact on the brand overall. This year, expansion in international markets has led to significant growth. However, developed markets proved less positive in this hard-fought category.’ (Interbrand. 2011. P 24.)
If the expert above is correct, several hundred million dollars seems like an extortionate amount of money to be spending on a rebrand if it did not drive the sales of soda an extreme amount. It seems like a waste of time and money, for a logo that did not actually change that much and never really caused either a positive or negative reaction.
Although this rebrand wasn’t a complete failure, the company did not have to change back to their existing look, the rebrand wasn’t a success either. As mentioned above, it is questionable whether or not the rebrand actually drove sales, the ‘so what?’ reaction that was given made Pepsi a bit of a laughing stock, constantly refreshing their image to compete with Coca Cola but never actually catch up with the leading cola company.
‘Pepsi has remained very true to its 2008 redesign and repositioning. The Pepsi Refresh Project, which is bringing hundreds of innovative ideas to life, is core to Pepsi’s overall positioning and is widely recognized and understood by its target consumer. Some question whether this campaign actually drives soda sales.
GAP used to be the icon of high street fashion, offer clean fresh looks and wearable designs, creating brand image of happiness, hip, and cool, but recently GAP has lost its way. GAP has become less and less desirable with new clothing stores such as Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch becoming more available on the high street. In 2010, GAP tried to combat profit failures with a rebrand to express a new image. However the new logo was not received well causing an outcry from the public. Customers and the media flooded to the Internet to express their dislike of the new image and attack the rebrand on social network sites such as Facebook and other online forums.
‘More than 2,000 comments were posted on the company’s Facebook page on the issue, with many demanding the return of the traditional logo. In a statement released on the Gap website, Marka Hansen, president of Gap Brand North America, said the company’s customers always came first. “We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. “So we’ve made the decision to do just that - we will bring it back across all channels.” She added that it was clear the retailer “did not go about this in the right way” and “missed the opportunity to engage with the online community”. “There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way,” she said. (BBC News. 2010) 34
The new logo was seen as a joke it looked lazy and boring, in fact so lazy that members of the online community started making parodies of the new logo, ‘Crap’ instead of ‘Gap’, and there was also and online generator made to make your own GAP logo, just showing how easy the logo was to make. The new logo was ditched just one week after it’s launch and GAP reverted back to their existing logo.
‘The concept of the brand is central to our society. Media interest in the subjects of branding, marketing and corporate concerns has been substantial in recent years, and the fortunes of global companies such as Microsoft make for regular news features. The subject of brands is also one that crosses over a diversity of interests. Recent studies in sociology, anthropology, business, marketing and design have chosen to focus on the relationship between brands and consumer behaviour.’ (Pavitt, J. 2000. P 16 – 17) NeuroFocus is a company that uses Neuro Science to discover how people react to advertising, branding, product development, packaging and entertainment. They use EEG (Electroencephalogram, a technique for studying the electrical current within the brain (Medicine Net. 2011.)) and other Neuro Science tools to discover how consumers see a brand. They conducted a study to find out why the GAP’s new logo caused such negative reactions from the public. ‘The GAP’s experience simply reinforces the critical importance of the two questions that brand marketers should as before moving ahead with something as central as a logo redesign. They are: does the new design violate any Neurological Best Practices? And does the new design build upon the existing brand attributes that are identified through the Brand Essence Framework? For companies seeing to avoid costly an all-too-public mistakes that can erode a brand image and brand loyalty and impact purchase Internet, measuring consumers’ responses at the subconscious vel of the brain I the best means to ensure success.’
Neurological Best Practices are using information from Neuro Science to create design that will be best read by our brain for example ‘Place Images on the left, text on the right. The left hemisphere of the brain is better at processing text and numbers, and the right hemisphere is better at processing imagery. Moving images to the left and text to the right will make it more natural or easier for the brain to process information, and what a consumer finds easier to process may be viewed as more appealing.’ (Pohlmann, A. 2011.) Brand Essence Framework is ‘A Brand Framework is a guide that helps everyone in your company understand the essence of who you are, and what you stand for.’ It explains the brand position, promise, message, voice and appearance to ensure the brand is seen in the correct way.’ (Point of Vision. no date.) ‘NeuroFocus conducted neurological testing of Gap customers to find out why customers weren’t attracted by the new logo and why some even had negative reactions to it. NeuroFocus analyzed the participating consumers EEG-based brainwaves, their eye movement, and their Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), a measure of their emotions, as participants looked at the old and the new GAP logos. ‘NeuroFocus found that the new logo failed to register as Novel with consumers. Previous neuroscience research shows that the brain craves and seeks novelty, so the
fact that the logo didn’t click with that part of our brain explains why it didn’t attract our attention.’ (Psychworld. 2011.) I personally did not like the new GAP logo, I agree with the NeuroFocus study that we seek novelty and because GAP’s original logo was so iconic, the new logo made the company unrecognisable. I also feel that the logo, in my opinion, looked lazy, it looked as if it had been done quickly on a Microsoft Word WordArt. It still had the blue box that GAP is known for, but because it was at the end of the name, it looked as if it had been placed there last minute. I also feel that the typeface used, Helvetica, was too basic for such an iconic brand image, and overall felt the new logo made the whole brand look cheaper than it is. ‘How many times have we heard a high profile rebrand met with a public outcry? The ‘wispa effect’ has seen the public claim ownership of the GAP brand, raised awareness of its long live aesthetic and encourages columnists to tickle their keyboards. What other PR stunt or ad campaign could have triggers the same response? In my view, Gap’s recent about turn shouldn’t be written off as a failure. After all, as sales go up, the clients got happier.’ (Azurdia, D. 2010. P 11.) This could show another side of the argument, that even though the actual rebranded GAP logo was a failure, it brought GAP back into the public eye, a company that
although is not failing, is perhaps less popular than it was a few years ago. The public outcry towards the new logo meant GAP was back in the media, and as they say all publicity is good publicity. It made consumers look at GAP again; a high street store that they had perhaps overlooked recently and the sales after the logo recall had risen. ‘After an embarrassing logo mishap, Gap is coming back strong, mainly through aggressive global expansion, a very active presence in social media, stronger engagement with consumers, and celebrity endorsement. As of 2011, Gap reports stores in 29 countries, including recent arrivals in Asia and planned expansion into Africa. Gap has made its future plans readily available through Gap Inc.’s Global Runway report, projecting international and online growth into 2014. Even with such lofty goals, Gap has been consistent with its brand touch points–ad campaigns, stores, and its website are all clean and simple as Gap has always been.’ (Interbrand. 2011. P 39) Does this mean that companies that have received flagging sales recently should look into publicity stunts such as this to revive their image, instead of spending money on rebranding they could use a controversial stunt to gain media coverage, but would they still be able to keep their existing image and values? Or should brand look to refresh their image when the time is right and with lot of customer research to make sure they can avoid failures such as GAP?
conclusion From my research I have found that rebranding can be extremely effective when done in the right way. There are many different factors, which contribute to either the success of failure of a rebrand. ‘An organization can only ‘walk the talk’ when its managers deliberately shape its internal reality to align with its brand promise…(the brand’s) values must be internalized by the organization, shaping its instinctive attitudes, behaviors, priorities, etc’ (Mitchell, A. 1995. P 25 – 42.) When deciding to rebrand a company needs to make sure that they are rebranding at the correct time. For example the failed rebrand of The Post Office group was, in part, due to the fact that they had existing issues within the company, the slump in profits and job losses, that was damaging their brand image and they had not addressed these issues. Therefore the new brand image was associated with the failures of them as a company and resulted in the loss of respect from the public. If The Post Office group had first addressed the issues within the company, the rebrand may not have been as much as a failure. Although the decline of the company was only one reason to the rebrand failure, the new image failed to connect with the public and failed to communicate the existing brand values that a long history of customer loyalty had enforced. The new brand destroyed the strong link that they had with their customers, their heritage and their image of a great British institution. “A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.” (Bedbury, S. 2006. P 139.)
As stated earlier ‘in my view, Gap’s recent about turn shouldn’t be written off as a failure. After all, as sales go up, the clients got happier.’ (Azurdia, D. 2010. P 11.), all publicity is good publicity there is an argument that GAP’s rebrand was in fact a publicity stunt. I do find this hard to believe I think GAP did in fact want to refresh their brand image however went about this the wrong way, if they had in fact spent more time on the logo, making sure it still had strong links with its existing iconic logo, the rebrand may have been more success. GAP’s failed rebrand created a lot of publicity for them and put them back into the media (even if it was for negative reasons) and did in fact increase sales due to being in the public eye again, when it had become quite a forgotten and mundane high street store. GAP failed rebrand was not an issue of introducing it at the wrong time, however the new brand image just was not good enough in a time when people are very aware of branding and also very aware of how a good logo should look. Consumers are now very opinionated, especially due to the Internet giving them the freedom to express their feelings in a public way. The way in which GAP listened to the public’s opinion and reverted back to the existing logo, did help them gain respect from consumers again, because it showed that GAP is aware of their customers, and if their customers are not happy, they will change to make themselves better.
for some months after the change, the strapline ‘The new name for Marathon’ was printed below the Snickers trademark, and another strapline ‘All that’s changed is the name’ printed on the packaging along the side of the bar. Also the overall ‘look and feel’ of the before and after packaging was very similar. Mars slightly increased it’s advertising for the brand and made it a priority for the sales force selling to retailers. The result was that, far from losing sales, the brand actually increased its market share. Changing the brand name from Marathon to Snickers had no significant effect on consumers’ perceptions of the brand: in their minds it still exist, under a new name.’ (Pavitt, J. 2000. P 87.)
Although there is evidence that rebranding can be a terrible idea and ineffective for a number of reasons, there are also rebrands that have shone through and been extremely successful. This is due to the brands keeping a clear and constant brand values. The success is due to the company knowing what they want to communicate to their customers and executing it beautifully. Virgin media did have help from their existing brand image but chose to use that to their advantage keeping their brand values of Virgin Media the same as the existing values of other Virgin companies, quality, modern and innovative.
A huge part of the success of the rebrand of the companies I have looked at is because they have constantly kept their brand values the same and clear. Changing a logo does not have to mean changing the whole brand but can sometimes mean the public see the brand in a different way, this can be good and this can be bad. Virgin Media, ITV and Marks & Spencer all either improved on existing values that did not work as well or strived to make their existing values more know to the public. This meant that when the rebrand was launched consumers did not feel alienated from too much change. A little change can be good, but a big change can really distort the public image of a brand. If a company has existing great brand values they should stick to them this will keep the public happy as they feel they are dealing with the same great company it just has a new image like mars with snickers and marathon. Overall the way in which a company communicates its brand values is key to the success or failure of the rebrand. Rebranding can really work as long as the company keeps in mind the way in which the public will see them, they need to not only take into account random customer research but see the brand as a whole as seen by the whole of their customer base. The company needs to understand what existing brand values that have worked well in the past and then either push these values more into the public eye or improve on existing values that have not worked as well.
‘I’ve never been particularly good at numbers, but I thin I’ve done a reasonable job with feelings. And I’m convince that it is feelings – and feelings alone – that account for the success of the Virgin Brand in all of its myriad forms.’ (Branson, R. 2011.) Marks & Spencer made a great success story of rebranding due to the fact that they managed to modernise and attract a younger audience while still keeping their existing brand values, so not to alienate their regular loyal customers, they kept quality and heritage as a value but also made themselves modern and fashionable again. Creating an improved public image and making more media coverage and public awareness by using Twiggy and other models for their clothing campaigns and also causing some controversy with their M&S food adverts, which were quite sexy. Sexy isn’t a word you would have used to describe Marks & Spencer, but sex sells, and Marks & Spencer made it work for them. ‘A less extreme example occurred in the late 1980s when Mars started a policy of standardizing on a limited portfolio of global brand names. In spring 1990 the well established Marathon trademark was dropped and replaced by the global Snickers trademark in the UK (at that time almost unknown there. Before the change, the strapline ‘Internationally known as Snickers’ was printed in smaller type below the Marathon trademark. Again,
This example of Mars changing the name of Marathon to Snickers enforces my opinion that consumers can accept the name of the brand changing as long as the existing brand values are still communicated. Mars wanted to unify their products so that they were the same name globally; they managed to do this without alienating their existing customer base in the UK. The packaging for Marathon and Snickers were very similar, and the product was still the same which both helped to create an easy passage when changing names, but it is the strong brand values that existed within the customers minds that meant the change of name did not affect the love of the product.
‘The stronger the dialog, the stronger the brand; the weaker the dialog, the weaker the brand.’ (Webber, L. 2009. P 99.) Through the successes of ITV, Virgin Media and Marks & Spencer, it shows that rebranding is extremely effective in refreshing a company’s image and attracting more customers to drive sale. If the company has clear effective brand values and communicates them to their target market the rebrand will be highly effective and successful.
by Ciara Farrell