Monday, May 17, 2010

Is it time to change my corporate branding strategy?

Concerned clients keep asking me whether they need to update their company's corporate branding- that is, their logo, website look and feel, and marketing materials. Invariably, they worry about the impact on their company's overall image and strategy.

Essentially, there are two questions that need to be assessed first:

1) How will any changes to your corporate branding identity impact the positioning of your company?

2) When is the right time to change your company's corporate branding strategy?

The questions are connected. Changing the visual representation of your corporate identity will probably highlight different aspects of your company. Is that good or bad, you may ask?

Well, it really depends on the reason why you need to make this change. Corporate branding identity can be changed at the company level or at the product level. There is always a reason for changes to corporate branding strategy, whether the changes are large or small. You can see that when Apple launched the iMac in 1998, for instance, the company made a drastic jump from a rainbow logo to a monochromatic logo.

Xerox, on the other hand, retained pretty much the same company logo from 1961 to 2004 before it tried to reinvent itself. Everybody associates Xerox with copy machines and this has always posed a major problem for the company. In 2008, the company changed its logo in the hopes of moving away from that stereotype- they adjusted the font of the corporate branding to include a ball with a modern X:

Did it work? I'm not so sure.

The fact is, before you go making any major changes, you need to be clear about why you need to update your corporate branding and determine how you'll get the results you want.

Here are some good reasons to consider changing your corporate branding strategy:

• The company/product needs a more contemporary, modern or fresh look.

• The company aims to address a new target market.

• A new name, product or trend is being introduced.

• The brand no longer resonates with your target market.

• The current brand identity has attracted limited or negative attention.

• The company has changed its overall marketing strategy and it is no longer consistent with the corporate branding identity.

• The company has undergone major legal, competitive or financial turmoil and wants to improve or differentiate its image.

For the most part, changes to your corporate branding should be subtle and occur over time. Take Microsoft. Microsoft has changed its corporate branding over the years, but as you can see below, most of the drastic changes occurred early in the life of the company:

You’ll often see the same kind of incremental changes for product branding as well. Microsoft’s branding of Internet Explorer evolved gradually to take on a sleeker, more modern look:

Notice how the basic shape of the product corporate branding remains very consistent. It is the tint, shading, and structure of the brand which evolves.

The point is that even very mild changes can make a world of difference. Once you’ve justified the change in your corporate branding identity, the next step is to make the transition without confusing clients. This is a professional job which requires you to:

1. Capitalize on your existing positioning
2. Convey your new or updated message
3. Bridge between the old and the new corporate branding identity

At Direct Objective, this kind of challenge is right up our alley. We create silent revolutions with major image transformations that work. Consult us before updating your corporate branding strategy. We’ll lead you to a successful corporate branding identity change.