A logo is a visual mark of your company. In the best cases, your logo will evoke an emotional response from your customers. This emotional feeling from the customer is your brand. Your logo is merely a symbol for the values, culture and experience that make up your company. When it comes to rebranding, should you change your logo?
If you have an opinion, please don’t hesitate to share it in the comment section below.
Rebranding a pharmaceutical company
I started my career with a pharmaceutical company named Novartis. At the time, Novartis was three years into a merger that brought together Ciba, Geigy and Sandoz. We had new products, new cards and new logos. Life, was great.
Despite the new logo, the company decided to keep customer-facing staff in their old silos. In other words, the Novartis parent company kept a house of brands under it’s roof. Ciba, Geigy and Sandoz divisions were held a spot in the organizational mix. Each division had its own set of products, sales, marketing and old management teams.
Each division held loyalty to its own people. This caused an enormous amount of dissension, resistance and infighting. Sadly, all this could have been prevented. Had the organization asked front line staff to help steer the direction of the new company, employees would have loved it.
A house of brands approach can work for companies like P&G, it didn’t work for Novartis.
At every meeting, there were dozens of separate meetings-behind-the-meetings. In the hallways, in the bathrooms, during coffee breaks, in the bar or late night hotel room gatherings front line employees and managers would gather to discuss what was broken. Nobody asked “what do you think of the new logo?”. The question everyone hoped to find answers for was “So, what are we going to do to make this better?”
The two sides of rebranding
Your decision to rebrand should be made in two distinct parts. The first, and easiest, brand change is done with the logo. The second, and much harder but more powerful, brand change happens when you rethink your strategy, position, performance metrics, and culture. This is the logo-free form of rebranding.
Logo-free branding happens when you change your corporate strategy and realign organizational behaviour to deliver the desired customer experience. Logo-free branding creates an emotional response in a customer when they see your logo. Instead of changing the logo design, you can change the customer experience. Logo-free branding will build meaning into your logo.
It took Novartis years to finally get to work on their logo-free branding. This mistake cost them years low productivity and increased resistance to every front line execution.
When changing your logo is a good idea.
Here are a few good times to update you logo. Can you think of any others?
When companies merge – Such as Novartis. However, they seems to stop a bit short.
When your target market changes – As consumers eating habits (or at least how one want’s their diet perceived) became healthier Kentucky Fried Chicken changed to KFC.
When you want to modernize an aged brand – Harvard is one of the oldest institutions for higher learning. Their old aging logo was recently updated to reflect a more modern digital learning environment.
Of these examples, Harvard has done the best job changing more than a logo. The are also trying to change how their customers feel about them. Only be redesigning their customer’s experience can they change their brand’s perception. Harvard has it figured out. They know, lipstick can’t change a pig.
When logo-free rebranding is a good idea.
When your customer’s experience doesn’t match your business strategy.
When customers look at your existing logo and say….meh.
When merging with another company.
When competitors have higher market share.
When your target market changes.
When your company wants to innovate.
When you want to earn a reputation for the promises you make in advertising.
This list is clearly incomplete. What else would you add? What should Novartis have done to get employees onboard earlier?