Change can be scary—especially when it involves the new direction of your company. We sat down with one of our art directors, Josh Taylor, to discuss what to do when the public is simply not satisfied with your new brand.
So you’ve decided it’s time to take the big leap: You have decided it’s time to rebrand.
After months of research, brainstorming, and planning, your company is finally ready. And in three, two, one, we have lift off. Your brand goes live.
You are totally psyched to show the world the new you. That is, until you take a glance at your company’s Twitter feed filled with nothing but skepticism and judgmental tweets wondering what it was your company was thinking to do such a thing.
But before we go into complete panic mode, let’s just pump the brakes and take a minute to look at the larger picture here.
Remember that no one likes change.
It is human nature to react negatively when something we’ve become so comfortable with changes without warning. So when your new brand is launched on the unsuspecting public, you’re bound to have a little backlash—or in some cases, a lot of backlash.
“Generally speaking as a designer, I would caution against letting that gut-level customer response to a brand drive a company’s decision to get rid of their brand,” says Josh. “A lot of the times they see the logo, but not the entire brand. Once they see everything working together, they start to like it.”
Take Starbucks, for example. As soon as they stripped their name from the green, twin-tailed mermaid, the twittersphere was in shambles. How dare they change their logo? How are others going to recognize where we purchased our venti mocha latte from this morning? How is this going to affect the taste of our coffee?
But Starbucks stuck to their guns and proceeded full force with production of their new logo. And you know what? Life moved on, and people are still flocking to their local Starbucks for their caffeine fix.
Turn grumbling into growth.
Recently, Airbnb released their brand new, shiny logo to the world. And the initial responses were flooring. People thought the single-line design resembled everything from private body parts to their favorite foods.
But instead of going back to their old logo or launching a new, less offensive one, Airbnb decided to totally own it. Through social media and their own blog post, Airbnb cleverly described what their logo looked like to the public and encouraged others to describe what it looked like to them. It was an opportunity not only to introduce a new brand, but to strengthen it.
“I think the response to criticism isn’t limited to changing the brand. You can own those sorts of things,” says Josh. “People first thought Airbnb’s new logo was awful. Then, thanks to the blog post, the public thought it was hilarious—in a good way.”
But know when to turn the boat around.
Of course, there are times when laughter can’t cure everything. You’ve tried your best, you’ve stood your ground, and the results are in: Everyone still hates your awesome new brand. How do you know? Business is down, and your company wallet is feeling lighter.
And that’s okay. This is the point when you revert back to your original brand and go back to the drawing board so that you can live another day.
“Tropicana was in this situation a few years ago when they decided to rebrand and change the look of their orange juice cartons,” said Josh. “Not only did the customers hate it, but sales dropped 20%. That’s when you ultimately know that what you’re doing just isn’t working.”
It seems people just couldn’t handle not being able to see an orange pierced with a red and white straw. So Tropicana reverted back to their classic image and updated the look of their plastic jugs with a new modern feel. Success.
Tropicana knew they needed a change, and while they didn’t have success on their first try, they nailed it on their second. Which leads us to our final piece of advice.
Stick to your guns and don’t back down.
“Everyone’s kneejerk reaction is to feel strongly about something. So why not do the same and feel strongly in your own brand,” said Josh. “You need to give it a chance to live and not kill it with the first negative reaction from the public.”
Rely on the extensive research your team has put together and wait until you see some verifiable metrics before you throw your new brand in the trash. Business decisions take longer than just a couple weeks to make. So while you’re waiting for your data to come in, keep thinking those positive thoughts while you look out at the angry crowd. Don’t worry. They’ll come around.
Ultimately, powerful branding involves taking a few calculated risks. Playing it safe will never make you stand out. So do your research, stand firm in what you believe in, and make your decisions based on hard results. Some of the best things in life take just a little bit of time.