How to Avoid the Worst Crime in Branding
Over the past twenty years, I’ve been guilty of a number of marketing crimes.
When it comes to branding refreshers, however, I’m a repeat offender.
I’ve rationalized my actions by pleading that I am a designer at heart. This means I’m naturally drawn to anything that’s new or bright or shiny.
Which is why, after only a year or two of working with the same brand, the same color palette, the same typefaces, I get itchy. I grow more and more indifferent.
And then it happens. Without a second thought, I’m knee-deep in Adobe Illustrator playing around with new icons, new fonts, new colors.
It’s like pornography for designers or directors.
And it’s the worst crime you can commit.
Put your hands up and walk away from the redesign
There are times when a rebranding makes sense, however, “growing tired” is hands down, the worst reason to start a rebranding effort.
If you’re feeling like your brand is losing its edge, keep in mind what a wise CEO owner told me (after I’d suggested our brand was losing its edge):
“You’re going to get tired of your brand a lot faster than your customers.” — My wise CEO
Your customers aren’t emotionally tied to the brand the way you are. They see it come and go a few times a week or month, while you’re stuck staring at it for 8–10 hours a day.
Don’t fool yourself by saying it’s for your customer’s benefit when really you’re the one that’s craving change.
You’re not your customer.
When you should actually commit to a rebrand
A brand is built for many audiences, including your internal team, but the most important one is always your customer.
Brand migrations happen, especially for startups. You begin with one idea for a company and create the basics of a brand so you can represent your idea to the world.
The 3 Basics of Consistent Brand Design
Align your logo, colors, and fonts to help consumers stay sane
But finding a product-market fit isn’t always easy, as can be seen with Airbnb.
At the onset, Airbnb thought they would be selling floorspace in local’s homes. The name “Airbnb” was short for “Airbed and Breakfast” and the first real brand was all about the fluffiness of the air mattress:
Airbnb didn’t engage in a rebrand because they were tired of a puffed-up logo or blue color palette. It wasn’t outdated from a design standpoint.
They did it because the brand no longer reflected their community:
“Belonging is the idea that defines Airbnb, but the way we’ve represented Airbnb to the world until now hasn’t fully captured this” — Brian Chesky, Cofounder
Airbnb had moved well beyond their original idea, their original target audience.
This is the real reason why they and other smart companies engage in rebranding
It has nothing to do with what you want as a designer, director, or owner.
It’s all about whether you’re being true to your community.
If you’re visual no longer matches your promise, then and only then is it time to consider a refresh.