The Art of Rebranding

Madonna. Apple. Pepsi. What do these things have in common? A knack for reinvention. Artists and corporations alike know that the key to longevity is in adaptability. Sometimes a business needs to change its image. It might be that the branding no longer truly represents what your business does, or it might be simply to change with the times. In order to successfully rebrand, the organization must ask itself why it's doing a rebrand. What is the goal? What is the brand trying to convey?

For small businesses, rebranding can be an important step in the growth of a company. If the existing brand awareness is fairly low, rebranding is a way to create a new first impression. It can bring a sense of renewal, leaving behind an outdated or poorly-designed image. While large corporations have to pour millions of dollars into a rebrand - which, of course, they are more than willing to do - small businesses are able to implement changes quickly and see results just as fast. There are a few reasons a business may want or need to rebrand.

The importance of a logo

A company's logo leaves a huge impression on clients or consumers. Sagi Haviv, partner at New York graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismer & Haviv (CGH), asserts that a logo should be appropriate to the business, memorable and uncomplicated. Most importantly, it should be original. A good reason to rebrand is to increase clarity and visibility. For example, Mega!, a Wisconsin co-op with around 66,000 members, increased the legibility of its logo by making small changes to character spacing and just slightly altering the typeface. The new logo became pivotal to a rebranding effort, which aimed to more clearly establish that Mega! is in fact a co-op dating back to 1935.

Even large corporations adapt their logos, even if for the sole purpose of modernity. Earlier this year, Google made the largest change to its logo in the company's 17-year history. Companies like eBay and Microsoft, too, nixed logos harking back to the '90s in favor of clean sans serif fonts and simplified trademarks. The new Windows logo looks less like wavy Word Art and more like the symbol of a tech conglomerate. Pepsi simplified its recognizable red, white and blue globe.

Utilizing more capable technology

Rebranding also creates the opportunity for a brand to make technological strides. A new logo may mean a revamped website or a glossy new look on social media pages, but rebranding can also be a lot more than that. Let's look at Enjoy the Arts, an Ohio-based non-profit that aims to promote the arts to younger audiences. Founded in 1981, Enjoy the Arts rebranded with an energetic new image in 2014 to forge a stronger connection with its target demographic. The non-profit rolled out an innovative technology platform, turning a simple website into a user-friendly, smartphone-accessible events portal.

Apple was once just another computer company, falling behind Microsoft for years in terms of popularity and market share despite its reputation for innovation. When the company began selling iPods (remember those?) and eventually iPads and iPhones, Apple evolved into something financially greater and culturally more significant. Originally incorporated as Apple Computer, Steve Jobs announced that the company was ditching "Computer" in 2007. Apple now sits at the pinnacle of the tech world, like the Greek gods overlooked Athens from Mt. Olympus. Each Apple keynote is a much-hyped event, prompting live blogs and millions of tweets.

Keeping up with the times - and the competition

As technology advances, some services become products of the past. There was a time, for decades even, when essentially every household in the United States had a copy of the Yellow Pages - then came the Internet. Still, the Yellow Pages managed to survive the Digital Revolution. Recognizing a need for change, the Yellow Pages (now known interchangeably as YP) aligned itself with the likes of Google, Yahoo and, more recently, Yelp. It receives over 80 million monthly hits at YP.com and has over a billion dollars in digital revenue. The Berry Company, founded by Yellow Pages pioneer Loren Berry (and owned by AT&T South), now provides content marketing services and mobile-responsive sites to small businesses.

Rebranding isn't just a sign of the times, either. The presence of competition forces like-minded businesses to evolve and innovate - hence the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi, even after all these years. The past few years has seen the public play witness to Apple, Google and Microsoft battle one another for domination of the tablet market. In such a case, rebranding can be a useful way for a business to distance itself from the competition and come out ahead of the pack.

Of course, rebranding does not always go as planned, but there is a certain inevitability to it. In the long run, a business that remains stagnant will not survive the free market. When a business reevaluates its image, its online presence and its main contenders, it can use that information to realign itself at the forefront of its industry. As long as consumers are in no danger of alienation, rebranding is often one of the most successful things a business can do for itself.