Evolving brand relevance to meet market expectation

Branding and brand identities are an evolving visual personification of the markets and industries businesses operate within. Their development should be a direct response to transforming trends, technological advancements and audience demand.

Why revisit your brand?

Many businesses start off providing one type of service or product, but they don’t necessarily stay that way. They grow and adapt. They add more services, change their business model, decide that perhaps the audience they were once aiming for isn’t who they want to target now.

There are many reasons for this, from the owners simply finding that they enjoy providing one service over another and want to focus on that, to economic reasons where it’s obvious that product B is actually far more successful than product A.

Just as your business grows and evolves, so to must your branding, or you could find yourself in a position where your brand identity no longer fits what you do or speaks to your ideal target market.

Far more than just your business can change, though. The industry you are in could change too, or your customers may have come to expect something else from you. Perhaps social change is a factor, or maybe fashion or culture, in that your brand now seems old-fashioned rather than up to the minute and cutting edge like it once was. Technological advances may have had an impact both on what you do and how you are perceived and it’s important to look at if your branding is still relevant – to you and to your audience.

Technological and social changes aren’t instantaneous, and nor is the evolution of your business. Both take time and creep in gradually, until you look back ten years or more and realise just how much has changed. If you’re not regularly looking at your branding to ensure it’s as up to date and highly reflective of you as it ever was, you could find that your company no longer appeals as much to your audience.

A good example of addressing market change was when London and San Francisco-based agency, DesignStudio, was tasked with evolving the Premier League’s traditional lion logo, created for its founding in 1992, into a more stripped-back form.

The Premier League’s organisers tasked the studio with creating a “modern and flexible” new visual identity, one that provided the business with a brand identity that is highly flexible in its practical use within the many levels of its application.

The original brand had become unfit for purpose, with the changes of technology and businesses now being present across multiple platforms, the identity needed an update to adhere to the new world.

To enable this, DesignStudio presented the league with a wide-ranging “kit of parts” that can be adapted for different purposes. These include versions of the logo in different sizes, with more or less text, as well as different background colours and patterns.

The new brand design also disposed of a number of the former logo’s key elements, like the football and lion’s body. These ad hoc changes to the brand realigned the Premiere League as a dynamic and forward-thinking business to the marketplace, relinquishing any misconceptions about the organisation.

Looking at your brand with fresh eyes.

Setting up a regular review of your business, including your branding, taking the time to look back at your branding when you started your business – will help you to see if it’s still relevant now.

Have you changed what you offer as a business? Have you retired some services but added new more up to date products? Are you still operating in the same industry as you were at the beginning and do you still have the same target market? – are some of the key questions you need to ask of your business.

Look at your businesses marketing as a whole. Has your marketing changed and adapted to suit the world as it is now, or is your logo rather tired and are you still running campaigns that have begun to seem stale and really don’t fit any more?

Try and look at your brand with outside eyes. If you weren’t involved in your business at all, would you like your branding? Would you be impressed by it? Does it still reflect where your business is now and who you are?

You could even survey your current customers to learn how your business is currently perceived, and what they think of your branding.

Recently, Burger King assigned the superstar agency, Knowles Ritchie, to conduct a rebrand of the iconic fast food companies’ identity. A key factor behind the rebrand was that Burger King wanted to combat the existing negative perceptions within the market of its food.

The agency created a brand logo that closely resembles the logo used by Burger King in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

These were the golden year decades for Burger King, and so naturally acted as the point of reference when looking at the branding.

“We explored a lot of different design territories but kept coming back to the brand’s original iconic logo from 1969 and 1994 when Burger King looked at its best”, said Lisa Smith, executive director at Knowles Ritchie.

The evolved brand logo replaces the previous design introduced in 1999, which was made up of a more stylised burger surrounded by a blue crescent. The purposeful removal of the artificial-looking blue swish is intended to act as a reference to the improvements of the brand’s food – a direct reflection of the business goals set out by Burger King.

The brands new simplistic identity flows throughout the business, using colours inspired by the food, and also with a mindful consciousness of the brands digital presence.

Why does brand evolution matter?

If you have a strategy in place to regularly evolve your brand to suit changes in your business, and in the wider world, it shows that you’re up to date, with current thinking, and that you’re on top of your industry and changes in trends and styles.

Brand evolution shows potential customers that you’re growing and evolving, you understand who they are and what they want, and it keeps you competitive rather than falling behind and letting your competitors take over.

The difference between evolving your brand, and rebranding

Depending on your circumstances and how your brand is perceived, you may indeed need to consider a full rebrand to give your company a fresh new look that adapts to your customer base and your industry.

While any change in your branding will cost money and time, with a full rebrand, you do have to be careful to get it right as you don’t want to lose any of the brand recognition that you’ve already built up.

But with the right branding and marketing agency to help you (like us), rebranding can totally refresh how your company is perceived, boost your business and bring in a whole new audience, so it’s certainly not something to ignore.

If you let your brand grow and evolve over time, however, it can be easier to stay true to your original values and keep more of your original audience, while still changing enough to engage new customers and markets. You’re not starting from scratch; you’re developing and growing what you’ve got to improve it, keep it relevant and continue to appeal to your audience.

Warner Bros, a movie industry pioneer, recently took the decision to evolve its long-established brand, originally founded in 1923. The goal was to position the business for the future, while retaining the entertainment giant’s heritage.

The globally recognised, Pentagram, took on the challenge to refine and modernise the brand, and presented a sleeker version of the company’s iconic shield.

The brand has been evolved to compliment the current markets expectation of simplification and digital-first awareness.

The creative team at Pentagram conducted in-depth research, interviews and discussions with staff and stakeholders around the world. After talking with employees, creative partners, filmmakers, writes, producers, show runners, actors and production staff, the design studio understood the motivation behind these people — telling great stories.

This led to the core of the identity being focused on the shield, which acts as the vessel for the businesses marketing activity of its movies.

Take your audience with you

If you’ve done your job, you should already have brand recognition and engagement, where your existing audience recognises your logo and understands who you are and what you do. With an evolving brand, it’s easier to keep your existing audience while still reaching out to new people who may not have engaged with your original branding.

Change slowly and correct as you go

Just like with Mother Nature, evolution doesn’t happen overnight. Small, subtle changes that refine your brand and improve it allow you to check your results and correct anything that isn’t working.

Keep your community

The very best brands know that they have built more than just a brand – they’ve built a community of like-minded people who love what they do and like to share that love with other people. These people engage, they chat, they have opinions, and they stick around.

If you’ve reached the point where your brand is highly social with lots of participation, it’s at a fantastic point where it’s created not just by you, but also by your audience, and with either a rebrand or a brand evolution, you need to be careful to keep that community and engagement.

Our final words of encouragement

With a planned, strategic and gradual brand evolution, you’ll have a revitalised brand that lets your customers know you’re listening, learning and keeping up with what they want, and that you’re very much an up to the minute brand that’s fresh and current. You’ll be better positioned in your industry to compete and you certainly won’t be left behind.

Evolving your brand is definitely worthwhile, though it’s not necessarily an easy task. If you’d like some help with moving forward, our team of creative gurus offer strategic branding workshops to guide you through the next stage of your branding evolution.

Get in touch with our friendly team by emailing us at designmc@live.com