Over the past couple of weeks, there have been some highly publicized mentions of the word 'rebrand' in the news. First, Olive Garden trotted out their new brandmark, signaling a supposed shift in the direction of the nation's largest Italian food chain. The response was not good, and the underwhelming new look of the restaurant giant sparked an immediate 5% drop in its stock price.
Second, and just as notable, was the announced bankruptcy filing of Quizno's, the longtime toasted sub chain. After announcing the news, the PR machine at Quizno's was quick to signal the bankruptcy as a shift in direction for the company, a time to refocus and rebrand and come back stronger than ever.
But the important takeaway here is how inexact the science of rebranding can often be. In the business world, you are rarely given a re-do. First impressions are everything, which means you usually get just one shot to stick with consumers. And yet, even the best paint jobs will eventually fade. This is where things get messy, and where I want to be very clear with my message: Be patient.
I'll explain what I mean in a minute, but first let's look at some real-world examples of some recent rebranding efforts. We've talked about Olive Garden and Quizno's. Within the last several years, other high-profile companies have tried out a new coat of paint as well. Starbuck's removed the word 'Starbuck's' from their brandmark and people were upset. American Airlines gave their planes and brand an entire makeover and people viewed it as a waste of money it didn't have.
So have these companies closed up shop because of a public outcry about a rebranding effort? Of course not. People move on. People adjust. And mostly, people are predictable in one very specific way: They don't like change. Even the most beautiful and elegant and strategically sound rebrands will have their critics, and most will object on the basis that different is inherently bad.
Be patient. Business is about mastering the long game, and brands that are built to stand the test of time are the ones that will continue to be the most successful. Consumers can't possibly understand the thousands of hours of strategy and reasoning behind each aspect of a rebrand. And they shouldn't have to. Trust the process, and partner with an agency you trust to carry out the process well. The rest will take care of itself.
After all, if you are to the point of even considering a rebrand, it's because your business is successful, established, and continues to resonate with the public. Change is never easy, but if done for the right and strategic reasons, a rebrand is the perfect way to position your busines for the future. The alternative is to do nothing. And there is certainly value in that approach. Brands have equity and it's important to leverage that equity. But it's also important to remember that equity eventually gets used up, and even the very best brands have to make changes eventually to avoid becoming outdated and left behind.
A good example is Coca-Cola, perhaps the most classic and recognized brand in the world. Most think their brandmark is so great because it's never changed. But Google 'Coca-Cola logo history' and you'll see a much different story. They've rebranded numerous times over the years, but each adaptation is slight and subtle, and positions them well for more modern trends.
Generations change, markets adapt. Businesses know this, and it's why there is no business whose brandmark hasn't changed, sometimes greatly, over the years. So be patient, trust in the process, and know that in the end, your customers value you the most. It's never too late to make a second first impression.