Autumn must be the time of year for updating brands – there seem to be several high profile changes recently. As companies evolve and markets change, brand gurus try to reflect new attributes and appeal to new market segments through relevant upgrades to their corporate identities. Often companies that are approaching a milestone, such as an anniverary, will deem it time to update their image. Changes in the nature of the business, the marketplace, public perceptions, trends, or the company’s mission also can justify a change. Below are three recent examples of corporations that recently responded to change with just such a makeover.
Changing Consumer Demand: Arby’s
I recently wrote about Wendy’s upcoming image remake and their accompanying planned changes to their restaurants and menu. Arby’s, in the same fast-food market, has similar updates planned in their attempt to appeal to health-conscious consumers looking for fast food choices that are also healthy, organic and interesting. Responding to competition from other chains, both Wendy’s and Arby’s see the importance of updating their menus and the importance of reflecting positive changes in their image. (Read more on these changes at Arby’s in a great article from NPR.)
I’ve always enjoyed the cowboy hat in the Arby’s logo, but am not a fan of the new bevel or extruded filter on the shape now. It seems unnecessary and a little dated. The typography of the name “Arby’s” has changed to all lower case, and the apostrophe now has an odd design in it, one I assume MIGHT be representative of a meat slicer? It’s hard to tell. The new tagline, however, is “Slicing Up Freshness™.” All this emphasis on sliced meat is perhaps due to the popularity of fresh-sliced meats such as Boar’s Head and an appeal to the postive image of fresh deli sandwiches.
Changing Technology and Marketplace: USA Today
USA Today, approaching its 30th anniversary and in the midst of a comprehensive sea change in the very nature of newspapers and print media, has redesigned its logo/masthead in a fresh, minimalistic remake that references the original logo yet moves ahead in a versatile, modern and concise way. I really like the simplicity of this change and the appropriateness of the symbolism. The new mark evolves the dated blue globe of the original logo into a simple, large circle that will vary in color to encompass diverse news sections and topics. It has a sleeker look, similar to many website icons. The new brand and the fresh page design reference a future for the newspaper that is open to all the electronic avenues into which media will flow. (Read an excellent review of the USA Today changes at The Branding Source.)
Changing Internal/Corporate Structure: Duke Energy
A third inspiration for a brand redesign is when a corporation’s structure changes and grows. Duke Energy is updating its logo to reflect the acquisition of another power company, Progress Energy. You want an image that remains comfortable to consumers of both brands but relevant to the evolution of the overall business. When you view these two logos side by side with the new one, you can see the attempt to retain characteristics from both marks. The most drastic change overall is in the color palette – moving to blues and greens, probably to reflect a more earth-friendly, sustainable image in a marketplace that is increasingly attentive to such concerns.
These marketing changes illustrate the importance of keeping your brand fresh. A total redesign is generally not necessary, but unless your logo is established as a thoroughly iconic image (by that I mean you are Coke or McDonalds!), most logos and marks need to consistently be evaluated and evolve over time to avoid becoming stale and giving the public an impression you do not want. Time to get started?