By Robin Honey RGD, Brand Consultant
Rebranding can be more difficult than starting from scratch. Many older brands designed in the analog world can’t convert to digital, so companies have to move beyond their limited legacy assets. As well, social media has forced a new dialogue that requires more experiential identities that can flex for different interactions and expressions without losing their existing brand equity.
A rebrand requires that the past brand equity is honoured, while evolving to a recognizable but improved version. Failure to connect or improve can result in a very public backlash – think of Gap and Kraft Foods – not to mention the enormous cost. Gap reverted back in just 6 days – Kraft Foods hadn’t done a full roll out either and went back to the original, but it demonstrates how costly a mistake can be.
I’ve chosen some of my favourite rebrands, some recent and one designed by Duffy in 2004 that I always admired for its problem-solving.
Much has been written about this rebrand by Jones Knowles Ritchie. It is obviously clever for dropping a word to allow for more product flexibility, but it is the brand extensions into packaging and advertising that really show the power of the redesign and have made the retro font and colour palette from 1973 more than palatable!
Islands of the Bahamas
“When we looked at the solution we said: ‘That’s exactly what should have been done!’ It was obvious. But nobody had done the obvious before,” said the Minister of Tourism about this brand designed in 2003. Joe Duffy, someone who influenced me as a young designer, created this graphic illustration of the island chain and was able to create a corresponding sub brand for each island. It was a brilliant solution that has stood the test of time.
Heart & Stroke
Paula Scher is another of my design idols. Her logic in design thinking appeals to me, but it's how she always takes a few unexpected turns that makes her work iconic. This solution with all the sub brand options is so well-equipped to work across all media and all languages. It too is obvious, but has elevated this brand to new heights and modernized this organization that had a very institutional brand for more than 60 years.
I chose this rebrand because, while the typographic font did not change, the use of the family of characters both flat and animated moved this company into the present in such a smart and charming way. It embodies the love people have for their own quirky pets.
This rebrand expands on their heritage of quirkiness by adding lovely, loose but personality-packed illustrations along with a solid suite of new brand identity basics of logotype, logomark, typography and colour palette. The new logo migrates the brand identity without losing its original essence, but making it inimitably more legible. Mailchimp says “This new brand embodies so much of what is important...a devotion to craft, a love of creative expression, and an obsession with quality.”