carter-branding-what-famous-brand-evolutions-can-teach-us-about-rebranding

What famous brand evolutions can teach us about rebranding.

Brands need to evolve to stay relevant—and so do their logos.

We look at some famous brand evolutions and ask what we can learn from them and how this can be applied to your business.

Brands need to evolve to stay relevant—and so do their logos. What might have worked in the 1960’s when brought into present day, may now just look odd. If a brand wants to come across as modern or cutting edge, they need to regularly redesign and update their logo by modern standards. Logo evolution, survival of the stylish.

Successful Evolution

There’s an obvious reason why some of the world’s biggest, most popular and enduring brands stand the test of time.

It’s their willingness to change and to move with the times. They work hard to evolve and keep their brand fresh and current. They are not afraid to realise their existing brand personality is no longer attracting customers who share those goals and values. They ensure they constantly connect with their current and target audiences.

Famous Brand Evolutions

Let’s take a look over a three examples of famous brands to see at how they have embraced change as their logos have evolved over the years:

Amazon

Although the initial Amazon logos are some considerable distance from how they look today, the use of the literal interpretation of the name – the image of the Amazon River against a blue background – personified much about the advent of the internet.

The logo has evolved and the use of upper case lettering was quickly replaced with lower-case that many suggest helped the company appear more accessible. The smile icon that encapsulates everything from A-Z [by Turner Duckworth], and through the years of evolution and innovation, the brand has now understood that the perfect logo is one that is simple and memorable at the same time.

Additionally, it also offers an insight into what the company brings offers – namely a friendly attitude every product from a to z that brings a smile to customers’ faces.

As brand recognition grows so does the need for fewer details. Amazon are a great example of this. By dropping the .com it highlighted the evolution of the brand offering itself.

They are now no longer simply a website – they have expanded way beyond the internet into so many other areas including television and high street food stores for example. Amazon understood that less is more whilst appreciating the fast-changing trends among consumers.

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Apple

Although the original logo that the company launched with in the 1970’s was a little unusual [you may be able to see Issac Newton sitting by a tree], they moved to the iconic apple imagery in 1976.

Yes, the company has made minor changes to it’s logo – including colour and some ‘of-the-time’ finishes, it has remained in place for over 40 years.

What works about the Apple logo is the consistent application and the messaging that accompanies it – when you see it, you immediately think of their products.

Although they have worked incredibly hard to develop the benefit of global market penetration and marketing and promotional budgets that dwarf most other organisations, there is no confusion about to whom the icon belongs to and the products and services they offer.

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Levi’s

Unlike other logo evolutions, Levi’s have embraced their original appearance rather than abandoning it. You can still see a simplified form of their very first logo featuring on some of their products. The famous two horses failing to rip a pair of jeans in half still communicates the product’s sturdiness, just as it always did.

The key element of the Levi’s identity evolution is one of simplification. While the detailed logo was normal in the 1800s, over a century later the brand name is strong enough to stand on it’s own.

They worked hard to minimise everything. Taking out each element that wasn’t completely necessary. After all – their current brand mark is simple, recognisable and strong enough to appear clearly on a centimetre-long tag everybody knows who made the jeans.

The attention-grabbing red ensures it stands out too. And when they do have the need or opportunity to feature a more detailed logo, they are able to fall back on their original, which in turn reminds customers that they’ve been around since the 1850’s.

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Changes Don’t Have To Be Radical

One thing to keep in mind is that rebranding or evolving your identity doesn’t have to be a complete shift away from your current visual brand.

The look and feel of your company and / or offering may just need to be freshened up to keep ahead of the times and beyond the latest styles.
It’s always important to appear current and in turn, attractive to your target market. A dated, uninspiring corporate identity will not achieve that.

Organisations must appear alive, lean and versatile. They need to be constantly living and breathing entities that learn, grow, develop and evolve just as much as their customers do.

A company’s visual personality needs to reflect change and branding evolution allows you to stay connected with your customers whilst constantly appealing to new markets. You want customers to be able to identify with your brand, take ownership of it and buy into your values and core messaging.

If your customers don’t connect with your brand, getting your message across to them effectively is almost impossible.

Maintain Brand Recognition

Conversely, changing everything within your identity may bring it’s own issues. You must be careful not to lose the brand recognition that you have spent time establishing.

Change for change’s sake is unnecessary and brings it’s own downside. Unless there are major changes at your organisation – such as a merger, or a complete relaunch following a catastrophic incident for example, then it is important for your market to know it’s still you.

In most cases, it is important to maintain brand recognition through keeping the major or key elements of your brand. This can be done through careful evaluation which may lead to some gentle tweaking.

Brand evolution is more about businesses adapting without losing their key principles and brand vision.

Three Ways to Go Through a Brand Evolution

If you organisation is looking to undertake a brand evolution, you can do this through:

  • Reposition the brand through the redesign of your logo
  • Use typography and colours to elevate the overall look
  • Strategically reflect market trends in order to match the evolution of your audience

It is certainly possible to ensure your brand is still recognised by your audience by keeping their company’s value while maintaining and delivering upon consumer expectations.

Where does your brand sit within the logo evolution journey? Is your visual identity still relevant? Does it appear stylish and modern? Does it resonate with your target audience and deliver the unspoken signals of an attractive, focused market-leading brand?

Or more accurately, is it beginning to show its age?

Carter Branding Founder Daniel James
Author
Daniel James is the founder and creative lead at Carter Branding.
With over twenty years’ experience, he is equally at home working on branding and design projects for major international PLC’s as he is supporting ambitious businesses and innovative start ups.
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