Design Impact: Rebranding your Business

Rebranding Your Business

For their 40th anniversary, Starbucks decided to remove their name from their logo and simply stick with their siren symbol. Ultimately, this is what every brand should someday be able to accomplish with a symbol as a logo. A common misconception is that a logo should be able to tell a customer exactly what the company does or provides by looking at their logo. This is not necessarily true.

While a logo does represent a business and the people who work within it, it doesn’t tell the full story. A logo is shaped by branding. Yes, they are not the same. A logo is just a small part of a brand. A brand encompasses all messages, promotions, actions, products etc. that a particular business releases to the public.

Why the uproar?

It seems many people are in an uproar about Starbucks recent rebranding fiasco. But, like other highly successful and well-known brands such as Apple & Nike, they don’t need to have their name integrated with their logo. If you came across the siren on a cup in the very well known Starbucks green, you would immediately know that it is Starbucks coffee. Their color palettes, design style & graphics used on their packaging are also a big part of Starbucks branding success. It isn’t just about the logo.

Dana Kohlbeck, of the Post Crescent writes,

Starbucks indicated its expansion into China, which has a low English-speaking population, was a key decision in removing the words from the logo.

With this in mind, I think their decision to rebrand, or in a sense, “simplify” their branding was an excellent move. Not only are they receiving tons of free publicity, they are allowing their logo to resonate across language barriers. No matter what country you are in, Starbucks will remain the name of the company, and the logo will look exactly the same too. I think it is a smart move. You can read Kohlbeck’s full column on the matter: Starbucks’ new logo sparks re-branding discussion In this video, Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO talks about their new logo

What is the Purpose of Rebranding?

There are many reasons why a company should rebrand their business. It could be a company split or merger that might lend itself to a rebrand. Restructuring of a business usually involves new hires and fires and taking a step back to examine business principals, goals and objectives. Maybe the current brand doesn’t properly represent the new ideals.

Another reason a business might consider rebranding is if the ideals it once assumed to be true are no longer true anymore. Time can change many things about a business.

Look at the Great Value brand for example. I used to think of Great Value as a “Walmart brand” that probably didn’t taste as good or offer the benefits that a product like Dole or Kemps might offer me. After their rebrand just a couple of years ago, Great Value challenged by perception of their products. I was intrigued by their clean and updated packaging. To me it symbolized a higher quality product. It didn’t look old and outdated and cheap. Although the price points remained the same, I gave their product line a try. To my surprise I didn’t notice much of a difference.

In Great Value’s case,  rebranding allowed them to change the way potential customers perceived them.

To read more about Great Value, visit Walmart’s Revamped Great Value Brand Delivers Affordable, Quality Choices When Consumers Need Them Most

Step Carefully

Recently, Gap released a new logo that didn’t quite resonate well with their customers. After a drop in stock value and an outraged public, they decided to return to their old logo. What did they do wrong? Well, in the example of Starbucks, they didn’t actually change their logo so drastically as to redesign the siren or change their font. They didn’t decide to switch to blue and brown instead of green. What Starbucks did was evolve their brand by simplification.

Gap has been around too long to suddenly drop their successful, high quality branding positioning. It’s almost as if the direction they took degraded their brand. As if Great Value were to revert back to their old packaging. When redesigning a logo, it’s important to keep the roots that allow the brand to be recognized, especially when the brand is as popular and historic as the Gap. Why destroy what took decades to build? I think Gap’s reasons for redesigning stem from the fact that financially they haven’t been doing so hot. It certainly got them publicity, but not the type of publicity they were hoping for.

Lesson learned: There is more to rebranding than redesigning a logo.

Sarah Shuda

Sarah Shuda

Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living and a good cup of coffee.

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