The Datsun automobile spent five years to rebrand itself into the Nissan. First it was the Datsun, then the Datsun by Nissan, then the Datsun Nissan, then simply the Nissan. Although Nissan wants to bring back the Datsun name for economy cars in emerging markets, the Nissan name will remain as the standard bearer in the developed world.
Rebranding can be risky business. Customers who are familiar with your brand may become confused and lose track of your product. Long timers who’ve been bragging about your brand for years may feel resentful.
Before you give in to the pressure of ”It’s time for a change,” consider “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” How do you know if your company logo needs changing? The popular belief is that brands sell because of their logos and names. Although those certainly figure prominently in the scheme of things, there are other factors that seriously trump even the most clever artwork and slogans. Further, a new name or logo can actually hurt your sales. Unless you first get to the bottom of your sales slump, you may change something that doesn’t need changing.
Here are some factors to consider before you embark on a new company name or logo:
1. Sales. Sales can be off because of competition, market changes, poor customer service, diminished value delivered for money, poor press, corporate culture, labor practices, supply sourcing, distribution issues, and for many other reasons. Changing your company logo or name will not solve these issues.
2. History. The longer you have been on the market, the more traction and loyalty you have. Your customers generally don’t shop once they have found a company that consistently satisfies their needs. When they depend on your company, they readily recognize your company logo. To your satisfied customers, it has become a metaphor for reliability.
3. Positioning. Is your product or service correctly positioned to address the changing concerns of the market? Check with your sales people before your marketing people talk you into a new look. It may not be your logo at all. It may be your price or what you are offering. Your loyal customers expect your product to remain relevant and change with the times.
4. The Market. If there is a new player in your category, he may get your customers to try out his product, but it won’t take long for them to see its true value. If the new kid on the block can’t sustain his sales, why be quick to upset your customers with a new company logo as a knee-jerk response? Make sure it’s really necessary considering what’s at stake.
5. Advertising. Chevrolet’s ad campaign brilliantly blends the historical value of their logo with the changing demands of the new economy. Their loyal customers want that familiar logo to stand for something new like better miles per gallon, but still want it to be the consistent and dependable value of the ”old” logo.
So be sure to check out what you’re selling and how you’re selling it before you make a change. Changing your company logo and rebranding may create even more problems. Make sure you have eliminated all the other possibilities that can affect sales before you take the plunge, and if and when you do, practice evolution, not revolution.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders