Organizations that are looking to make a perceptual change through a rebrand initiative, but are concerned about throwing the baby out with the bath water (losing current brand equity or loyal customers in the process), can successfully manage their brand equity by embarking on a slow and gradual rebranding process. Consumers are oftentimes confused and alienated by sudden changes in a brand. Slowly introducing a new or modified brand, however, gives the consumer time to understand the changes while at the same recognizing the familiar aspects of the original brand that they were loyal to in the first place. Whether it’s a merger or rebrand, preserving positive brand equity is a key factor in a successful change of brand perception. Applying effective equity management is a lengthy and at times laborious process, but two companies in particular, Xfinity and Apple, have mastered that process and provide a clear example of the effectiveness of gradual change.
In terms of a rebrand initiative, Comcast’s transition to Xfinity provides a great case study of how gradual change can take a well known brand and effectively turn it into an entirely new one. While this transition is not fully resolved just yet, they have done a fantastic job with taking a brand with a great deal of name recognition and transitioning it to a previously unknown new name. We all know the less than stellar customer service reputation Comcast is known for, so they created “Xfinity” as a premium product that would eventual envelop the parent name to bypass that negative perception in the marketplace. They have masterfully and slowly made us comfortable with seeing Xfinity on their vans, repair tech’s shirt, and even the homepage URL with each calculated rollout phase.
While Comcast’s rebrand seeks to change a negative perception, Apple’s gradual rebrand sought to expand consumer’s perception of the company from just a computer company to that of an innovative technology company. The initiative led Apple to drop the term “Computers” from their company name and simply become “Apple”. In addition to their new single word name, Apple also transitioned its logo from the traditional rainbow apple to that of more modern silver. Since the rebrand, they’ve successfully moved into the portable music player, smart phone, and tablet categories, now accounting for the majority of the company’s revenue.
Whenever an organization embarks on a rebranding initiative, it would do well to remember that the most effective strategy is one that brings about change slowly and deliberately. Changing a logo or brand quickly will often result in nothing but confusion. Slowing changing a logo over several months or years or combining an old and new brand name for a while before dropping the old one is without a doubt the most effective method of ensuring that consumers understand and respond appropriately to the change. Great brands are not built overnight and neither are successful rebrands. Great things do indeed take time and companies should not be approaching the process as a sprint. After all, slow and steady usually wins the race.
Craig Johnson is the chief strategist and co-founder of Matchstic, a premier brand identity house. His Atlanta branding agency helps organizations create passionate brands that are memorable, relevant, and lasting. Specializing in brand development through strategy, positioning, business & product naming and brand identity services, Matchstic’s brand architects forge positive change and accomplish business objectives through creative thinking and smart design.