Brand New Attitudes In Branding

31 Jul 2014

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We’ve seen some significant rebranding in the industry, with Paypal, Airbnb and Yahoo all leading the way with logo development and new digital visions. I'm going to look at three of the key motivations behind rebranding within the industry, and how the branding times, they are a-changing.

Branding because Branding

Is there no stopping the juggernaut that is Facebook? From Whatsapp to Instagram, Slingshot to Messenger, Mark Zuckerberg now seems to have some kind of stake in the majority of social apps on the market. But that didn’t stop them releasing yet another… Bolt, the new image based messaging app.

There’s only one problem. Bolt. There’s already a messaging type of app calledBolt. Easy mistake to make, yes, but not so much when the logos are pretty much identical. Still, I guess a lightning bolt is the obvious choice to make when the app is called Bolt. We’re not judging, but out of all of Instagram’s millions, surely there was another option?

Bolt. Bolt. Really? This looks like some classic branding to brand someone out of the market. How can Bolt (let’s call it Bolt A) survive the emergence of Bolt (Bolt B)? Yes the services are different (Bolt B is Snapchat, effectively), but the huge digital bulldozer of Facebook Inc. is heading straight for Bolt A. Bolt A doesn’t really stand a branding chance.

Rebranding to invigorate your audience

A brand refresh is rarely the way to save a dying company, but in many cases it can be used to invigorate an audience, to get people excited about you again and to start up some key conversations.

AirBnB is a great example of using a brand refresh to do just that – refresh the brand. AirBnb created a new identity, new vision and new logo to invigorate their audience. But, what's more impressive than the new brand is the explanation behind it: the new logo has a name (Belo, if you’re interested), and an entire philosophy about how – I’m quoting here – “Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind”. By carrying out this rebrand and placing so much emphasis on the emotional motivation behind it, AirBnB has created a huge buzz, sparked conversations, debate and arguments throughout the digital world and beyond. It’s almost as if their rebrand was a brand in itself.

Of course, it helped (or didn’t) that their logo created a point of contention: that after all the strategising and emotional conversions about the meaning of life, the symbol that “transcended language” which they chose (that’s Belo to you or me), is incredibly similar to the logo used by Automation Anywhere. I wonder if anyone told them they have a transcendental logo.

Rebranding to ensure your brand represents your company now and for the future

OK, this isn’t a brand new attitude to branding, but the way in which we are thinking about the future is new. Back in the pre-digital world (*shudder*) branding pretty simple, but now there are so many more areas to take into consideration. Desktop, mobile, tablet, favicon size, app ratio, aspect ratio, wearable tech, the list goes on. How do we future proof to prevent having to refresh every year, or at least, every time there is a new technology?  

Paypal’s rebrand looked to address this: “our new brand identity flexes to fit all screen sizes, from wearables and mobile to the biggest, flattest high definition TVs”. But Paypal have balanced their future planning and forward thinking with a philosophical attitude too, talking about the importance of connection, being human and approachable. 

Both AirBnB and Paypal's rebrands look to place themselves firmly within the digital age, whilst emphasising the importance of humanity, connectivity, and play into the emotive. It’s almost as if both companies are walking the line between the future and the traditional, resulting in an interesting merge of cultural schools. 

All brand new?

So there you have it, three motivations for branding in a digital world. If in doubt, out-brand your competition; get your audience talking with questionable logos; philosophise about the human condition, and all else fails, add a pun.