When we consider the time, investment and subsequent fanfare which accompanies launches (or relaunches) of a well-known company’s brand, it’s clear that an effective rebrand means a lot more than reimagining an iconic logo, or maintaining the integrity of a globally recognised corporate identity.
It’s all about authenticity and perception, if what you do (your product) doesn’t match with who you say you are (your brand), then all that’s been created is some pretty stationery.
Take credit cards for example, we’re all familiar with them, sometimes too familiar. Mastercard recently went about a comprehensive reimagining of its products and how they present them. The rise of online shopping, growth of the fintech space and the reality of digital wallets and phone payments has meant that the physical card is not the ‘can’t do without’ item that it used to be. MasterCard’s new offering is sleeker, smarter and aware of the sense of ease that they want to offer with their new Selfie Pay and Masterpass payment options. The emblematic conjoined circles remain, in a more streamlined and sleeker manner. It looks reassuringly simplistic, yet with a brand that carries a lot of weight.
Another example is the transformation which General Electric (or GE as it is now known) has undergone over the past decade. The financial crisis of 2008 had a devastating impact on the company, gutting its place as a reliable of old industry. The now slimmed down industrial giant realised that it needed to be seen as an innovator and a developer of products, rather than just an industrial producer, in order to survive. The resultant technology was embodied in its advocacy for its innovations in science and technology, backed by media-friendly stories of the personal and community level impacts of these technologies. GE successfully injected personality into its brand to help transform it’s monolithic image into an agile and successful company once again. While few businesses or brands will face a crisis on that scale, the lesson is a salient one. Identity is about knowing what you stand for, rather than people just knowing what you produce.
Airbnb is a multi-billion dollar accommodation search engine, but is viewed as an organic, community based network which brings locals and visitors together around the world. The reality is it can be both. Ten years ago, the Airbnb model would have been viewed as glorified couch-surfing, today it’s often the first port of call for a traveller. What it has done is create a product that people never knew they really needed, but now cannot live without. That requires brand awareness on a stellar scale. A relatively simple idea, well refined, carefully rolled out, makes its customers both its advocates and its revenue generators, which is a dream brand development for any business.