For years now, I’ve been asked a familiar question. Once a company has created a new brand identity, is it better to roll out applications gradually, as budget allows, or should management bite the bullet and implement the new identity across all customer touch points simultaneously? The answer is: Do everything at once. That’s always the answer. That’s always going to be the answer. The only way you roll things out gradually is if you’re forced by circumstances to go slow. Those circumstances are usually budgetary in nature. I can understand the inclination to move incrementally. Some identity applications are easy, like stationery ensembles (if anybody uses them anymore). Putting a logo on a tote bag is always fun. And it’s easy enough to put the new logo in the top left corner of your website. But some applications are very difficult (expensive) to change. Signage at the top of a skyscraper, for instance, or the livery on fleets of vehicles. And yet the benefits of the all-at-once approach far outweigh any expense involved. And there are dangers in the gradual approach that can negate your investment in the new look, and even leave you worse off than before.
1 – What a tremendous marketing opportunity! Any change in your brand strategy or identity is a newsworthy event. When you launch all at once, you can make a big deal out of it. You should have an unveiling event of some sort and invite your whole market to participate in some way. At least make sure your whole market knows about it, and why you did it. You’re signaling to your market that business is good and you’re reinvesting in yourself. You’re positioning for the future. The market will look at you with fresh eyes. They’ll see you in a positive light. Stubborn prospective clients might now give you a chance. Hard-to-find, talented job hunters will begin to seek you out.
2 – When you go all at once, you end up with a seamless, integrated new look on day one. Customers see this at every touch point along their buyers’ journey. It imbues your business with the perception that it’s well managed and trustworthy.
It does take time and money. People will have to be pulled off their regular duties to concentrate on the launch.
It’s cheaper. Some changes can be financed this year, some next year, some the year after that, etc.
1 – Your market will barely notice the change, if they notice at all. You lose the opportunity to make a big deal out of the new identity. No press. No impressing the market.
2 – While the change over is taking place, the market will be confused by what they see. For instance, some applications will have the new logo, some will have the old. Even if the new logo represents a subtle change from the old, customers notice these things. They may not be able to articulate what’s wrong. But two or more variations of a logo introduces cognitive friction into the brand relationship. This slows down, or even reverses, the buyers’ journey.
3 – Odds are the gradual approach never gets finished. Over 2-3 years, people lose interest, they forget what’s next on the list to update, or they prioritize other activities. This leaves cognitive friction in place permanently. So the new identity that was supposed to improve things now makes things worse.
I spoke with the CEO-owner of a 90-year-old manufacturer of consumer products. Over the years, the company had made several subtle changes to their logo. But each time they launched a new logo, they neglected to ditch the old one(s). So now they have all the variations still in use. The newest one is on their advertising, another one on their packaging, and another on their signage. This inconsistency in messaging translates into questions about the company’s product. Will that be inconsistent too? Sales are flat. The owner wants to exit in a few years but he’s shocked by what a low sales price his bankers project he’ll get. Too bad he didn’t do a more complete job when he updated his logo. He wouldn’t have to work so hard now to bring his sale price back up.
BEST BRANDING READS – WEEK OF OCTOBER 19, 2020
The wild history of ballot designs—and what they say about our democracy
This is a brief but fascinating glimpse into our past. It used to be much worse.
The Harmful Effects Of Business Growth
Growth is change. And change is the enemy of the brand. Proceed with care.
Everything I Know About Naming I Learned From ‘The Simpsons’
Actually, a pretty good article. Pretty funny too.
Exclusive Interview with Philip Kotler, Distinguished Prof. of International Marketing
I bought his book “Marketing Professional Services” back in the 1980s. It’s still on my bookshelf.
Medium reveals (another) new logo – and it’s a head-scratcher
Third rebrand in five years. What’s going on?
Smucker unveils new corporate identity
My guess is this is a corporate brand change only and won’t appear on their packaging. Or will it?
A Simple Definition of Brand Positioning
The author quotes Philip Kotler.