The Branding Fallacy
September 3, 2013
What is a Brand? Is a Brand a Logo or Graphic Device? Is a Brand a CatchPhrase or Strapline?
A client of mine is thinking of changing the name of one of their subsidiaries. Apparently it has a bad reputation within this group of companies and they think that changing the name will wipe the slate clean.
I could have turned this into a substantial piece of work. We could have run focus groups, debated new business names, checked if they were available at Companies House and if the url was available. We could have designed new logos and tested them with more focus groups. This could have been a huge and very profitable project.
But we didn’t … and I made no money from it.
Simple. Changing the name of any business doesn’t change the culture in that business. It doesn’t change the way that things are done or what people think about you. Sure you can spend a lot of money telling people you have a new name .. but they know you are essentially the same business. So what has changed?
The reality is that your brand is how people perceive you. Its what they say about you behind your back. So changing your name doesn’t work.
A History of Branding Failures
In 2001 the UK Post Office spent approx £2m re-branding as Consignia. The new name was meant to convey trust and honour but everyone knew it was the same business, the same staff and weren’t convinced by the new logo an huge spend. In 2002 they rebranded again to The Royal Mail. At least now the name reflected what they did .. they were in the mail business.
Consignia was consigned to the bin.
Even when you change the product a rebrand can fail. Take New Coke .. if you cna remember it.
In 1985 New Coke was launched with a brand new formula. Three months later Original Coke was back on the shelves and New Coke went the way of Consignia.
So as much as my client wanted me to help them to rebrand their failing division, I sat down over coffee with them and explained that a new name and logo isn’t going to change people’s memories or perception of the business. What will change it is to see it operating really well, providing great products and services and providing brilliant customer service. Of course this isn’t easy. Nothing worth while ever is. But we are now working on making those improvements and business is rapidly improving .. and we haven’t wasted £2m.
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