Let’s Talk About… is a series of short publications where complex topics are discussed in an accessible and light-hearted format. Let’s Talk About… is presented as a case study of the ins and outs of the world of design for seasoned experts and newcomers alike, including those who may be undergoing the research process before engaging with an agency for future projects. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy this series of publications as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it.
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Rebranding, such a dangerous beast. Is it really a good idea to rebrand? Well, that depends! A rebranding project is a delicate subject that should be a last resort, even more so when we are thinking of changing the name of a brand. Today, we will focus on brand image and logo, changing a brand’s name will be a topic for another day.
When is rebranding necessary? Lately, many brands have made changes to their brand identity to remove imagery that may seem offensive. A good example of this is Land O’Lakes, which originally had an illustration of a Native American woman. The rebrand did away with this image, to remove concerns of culture appropriation. This is not the only reason why a brand would change its logo, and actually, is one of the least common reasons.
Brands change their logos constantly for a variety of reasons, some of these include reorienting the logo with the brand’s vision or goals or updating the logo to remain relevant and consistent with the brand’s current identity. One of the bigger reasons as to why a brand would change its logo and identity lies in an evolving goal for the brand. However, this doesn’t always work for the best. Let’s dissect a few recent rebranding projects and talk about what could be done differently to achieve the rebranding goals with greater effectiveness.
Discord, a VoIP and messaging app, will be the first example we’ll discuss. This software was created with video games in mind, including many integrations to most computer games. It’s no wonder a large percentage of their user base was gamer-centric, though this would not last for long. With many functions that enabled communities to come together and the decline of online forums, Discord found itself dealing with many users who were not part of the video gaming community. This began to stir the need for rebranding.
During the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic with a shift to work-from-home, many organizations migrated their daily communications to Zoom, a software that offers a very similar service to Discord. Because Discord was strongly associated with video games and other hobbies, this brand was losing ground in sectors that were previously not part of their target audience. This put in motion a rebranding for Discord, from a software for those who enjoy video games to a more accessible VoIP for all communities that were not necessarily video game related. Based on public information, the rebranding had multiple goals, one of which was to compete with Zoom.
Both logos have the Discord mascot named Clyde, which resembles a controller for a video game console. Though the purpose of the rebranding was to distance the brand from a video game specific software, the new logo still has a strong visual connection to video games. Though Discord concurrent users have increased steadily, when compared to Zoom, Discord has a decent 10 million daily users to Zoom’s 300 million.
It could be argued that the rebranding maintained the controller-looking mascot to maintain familiarity with existing users, or nostalgia for the long-running mascot. Regardless of why this was done, this goes against the goal of distancing from video game centered communities and penetrate the commercial market the way Zoom has.
What could have been done differently? We created a logo for Discord, based on what the apparent goals are for the brand (as of their 2021 rebranding) to showcase the possibilities of a rebranding that could meet those goals.
Meet the new Clyde.
Maintaining the “smile” from both versions of the logo, a callback to the origins, the new logo features a more business-friendly design that is still fun and flexible – great for their gamer-focused audience and potential new business-focused users. The 2021 rebranding uses a classic font, Ginto Nord, which is playful and bold. We’ve changed this to a modified DIN Bold, a more versatile font, less playful, more tech.
What about a rebranding that is not based on changing market conditions, but more on a refresh of the brand? This is another common reason for rebranding, and it can be very effective. For this type of rebranding, we’ll talk about Hecho en Puerto Rico (Made in Puerto Rico), a Puerto Rican brand that sponsors Puerto Rican made goods. During 2020, the brand changed its image with the goals to have a more modern look and feel.
The new brand identity was highly criticized for its appearance. From similarities to “Good Job” stickers, to uneven spacing in the gear teeth, criticism rained from every corner. What could have been done differently to rebrand Hecho en Puerto Rico? Take a look at our concept for this brand:
By combining every municipality from Puerto Rico, we created a shape that looks much like a stain or splatter. In Puerto Rican culture, to signal someone or something is native to the island, people would say this person or thing has a “plantain stain”. What is more “made in Puerto Rico” then? A gearwheel or a plantain stain?
This logo was created to be dynamic as well, the shape that hugs the single star can be filled with images, textures, or patterns.
We talked about rebranding for shifting audiences and refreshing the brand’s image. Another reason to choose to rebrand is due to mergers & acquisitions. When two brands collide, the resulting brand can be something new altogether or a combination of the two. In 1995 Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta to form the aviation giant Lockheed Martin, sporting a brand new identity, which brings us to the next and final rebranding we’ll be discussing today.
While the Lockheed Martin logo works for many reasons, we couldn’t pass the opportunity to take a jab at redoing this almost three-decade old logo. Considering the main client for Lockheed Martin is the US Government, specifically the US Air Force, we felt this logo could aim more towards the current direction of design of the US armed forces. That is, course correcting for the audience.
For this logo we created a simple font family that looks very modern and clean, paired with a logomark that combines the letter L rotated 45 degrees counterclockwise superimposed over an abstraction of the letter M. In the center, a small callback to the visual history of the brand, a star creates negative space in the top.
Changing a brand’s logo is a first step in reshaping a brand’s identity. While this is a delicate matter and should be done with caution, it can bring new life to a brand that is stagnating and lagging behind the competition.
Much like creating a logo for a new brand, any rebranding should be appropriate to the target audience and aligned with the brand’s goals.
Are you interested in learning more about our branding services? Visit: Branding.