Disastrous rebrands, and how to avoid them

Companies rebrand themselves all the time, for a variety of reasons. Just as the clothing fashions which suited you a decade ago have probably changed, so too trends and fashions in branding can change over time, meaning that what suited your business back then might look a bit outdated now. Whether it’s a simple and straightforward update to your logo or a full-scale rebranding exercise to overhaul your entire company image, it’s important to get it right.

Rebrands can be a valuable exercise, modernising a business and injecting a new lease of life. Sometimes, however, changing too much about your branding can leave your company unrecognisable and lose you customers, who either no longer recognise you or no longer identify with your business. Sometimes, companies tinker with their branding at their peril, as we’re about to discover. If you’re looking to rebrand with a new logo, new font and new signage, here are some cautionary tales and useful advice.

Don’t kill your old brand entirely

There are certain things customers tend to associate with a business, namely their logo, colour scheme and the font they use in their branding. If you do away with all of these in one fell swoop, then you may find your customers no longer recognise you and can no longer find you. Hanging on to something familiar makes it more likely your rebrand will be a success.

Take the example of the Royal Mail. In 2002, executives there took the bizarre decision to do away not only with their iconic red and gold colour scheme and logo, but with their name as well, briefly deciding to call the corporation ‘Consignia’. The new name and less than inspiring branding led to public ridicule and the company was forced to slowly phase out the Consignia brand over the course of two years, quietly re-adopting the old branding it had so casually abandoned.

Keep your logo simple

People have short attention spans, and they need to be able to decipher your logo at first glance. Not only will an over-complicated logo not be easy on the eye, but it’s harder for customers to recognise in the future and if they can’t see its relevance to your business, they will quickly lose interest.

The widely-hated London 2012 logo is a case in point. The garish and over-stylised 2012 date became a costly branding disaster, and finding unusual images in the numbers became a national sport in its own right. While it was too late in the day to backtrack, you can only assume the organisers of the games regretted the reported £400,000 fee they paid for such an unattractive image…

Think about your font

Too preoccupied with the logo, people often overlook just how important a familiar font can be during rebrands. Many businesses have a font which is unique to them and is used across all their promotional materials, from business cards and letterheads to menus, price lists and their shop front signage. When you think of familiar High Street chains such as Debenhams, Marks & Spencer or any of the big supermarket brands, you can conjure up their fonts in your mind’s eye with no problem, so difficult is it to detach the font from the business.

Playing with your font can be a dangerous game, as GAP found to their cost when they tried to rebrand in 2010. Replacing the familiar elongated and capitalised letters of their name with a lower case, stubbier version went down very badly with loyal customers, who took to social media to mock and complain. The company did a U-turn within the week, and the moral of the story is that if you must tinker with the font on your logo, keep it simple, easy on the eye and make sure it extends across your entire brand.

Don’t rebrand just because you can

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. Rebranding can be an expensive exercise, and while change can be good, the upheaval of shaking things up every few years can be draining. Sometimes, all that is needed is a spruce up of what you already have, so if you still think your colour scheme and font look good, perhaps all you need is a simple new logo, some new signage outside your business premises or a quick update to the promotional giveaway goods you hand out.

Getting advice from a professional designer can be a good move if you’re considering a rebrand, as they will be able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of your current branding and suggest creative ways you might want to update or modernise your colour scheme, font and logo. You’re the expert in what your business does, but experts in the design industry probably know what works best in terms of rebrands.

Whether you’re going for a complete brand overhaul or simply adding a slight tweak to the branding you already have, new signage to promote your new look is a must. At The Sussex Sign Company, we have a dedicated team of highly skilled designers and sign installers who have worked extensively on rebranding projects for businesses right across London and the South East.

We can work closely with you to ensure your image makeover is a success, crafting bespoke branding packages which ensure you get the most from your rebranding exercise. For more information on the services offered by The Sussex Sign Company, simply get in touch with our expert team today.