Branding only ever reflects your values…

If you have ever hired a business consultant, you may have heard the following. "You really should think about rebranding". If this happens early in the first meeting you should show that consultant the door. Or if you are in their offices, head for the door yourself.

If your products or services are bad, don't expect a rebrand to change anything...

Rebranding in isolation is the least effective and most expensive way to build or improve your business. Even worse, it provides the appearance of radical change while leaving all of your problems and issues untouched.

The rebranding process can be expensive and addictive. Most people don't get involved in the design process that often. When they do, they discover that it is fun, for want of a better word. Clients can spend hours obsessing over details. Eventually some convince themselves that the right colour, or typeface or graphic idea, will transform their business. It won't.

Consultants love to tell stories about Apple. They love to tout Steve Jobs as a transformative figure in industry. A man who reinvented branding. Perhaps he did. But if so it had no effect on his company's success. Apple ploughed a precarious path as a niche computer supplier for most of its existence, either with Jobs at the helm or without him.

It was the only the emergence of the iPhone and the entire smartphone industry in 2007, that turned Apple into the corporate and cultural behemoth that it is today. The success of the iPhone and iPad had a knock-on effect whereby purchasing an Apple laptop became a similar cultural statement. It was the product line that drove the transformation, not the branding.

For all Apples marketing speak about thinking differently, they are still just a technology company, faced with the same research and logistics challenges as all of their competitors. For all their talk of brand values they are driven by profit and loss, just like every other corporation.

The anti-Apple

Rebranding is totally unnecessary if your products are good enough. The oldest unchanged logo in the world belongs to Twinings. Now Twinings are something of an expert on building things to last. After all they have been operating a tea room on the strand for over 300 years.

They created their logo in 1787 and it remains the same to this day. Even in this era of planned obsolescence, where things are thrown out and replaced not because they are no longer useful, but they are no longer fashionable. If you tried to sell a similar design to a client in 2020, they would laugh at you. It's typography includes an old fashioned serif typeface set on a shallow arc and presented in monochrome. This is most untrendy and has been for a long time. Despite this, it has never prevented a single teabag from being sold.

Twinings have no pressure to rebrand. Their product is good enough and well established enough for them to resist market pressures to change their logo.

They are not the only ones. BMW and Coca Cola have maintained their branding more or less unchanged for a century. Now you might throw your hands up in horror at the idea that Coca Cola is a quality product. However, the reality is that if you are looking for something fizzy and sugary with little or no nutritional value, then it's hard to think of anything better than Coke.

In fact, it's Coca Cola's biggest competitor, Pepsi, who have struggled with the whole notion of branding over the years. They have twisted and turned and spent billions and have not gained any ground on their bigger rival as a result.

The lesson to learn from this is that branding is only ever representational of what you are delivering. No amount of typographical tweaking will improve your goods and services, and a bad graphic will not harm your sales as long as you delivering what your clients need.

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