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Costly rebrands

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

I was recently speaking with a friend about the two rebrands his company went through while he was CEO. There’s been a third since he left last year, and all of them happened in the space of about 3 years.

First rebrand

In the first rebrand there was a fundamental shift in the way they approached the market - they had become more established and their expertise equalled or bettered the top 3 or 4 names in their field.

Internally, a lot changed - systems, processes, hiring requirements - and as typically happens he also wanted a visual update, which triggered the rebrand.

Lots of design rounds and concepts and meetings lead to a colour change in a small piece of the original logo, which of course had to be translated across their signage, digital accounts and other assets.

All he told me was that it was a “high five-figure invoice” from the creative agency.

The worst part? 👇

Second rebrand

In the second rebrand, they reversed all of those changes and went back to the original (with the same creative agency, plus a fresh invoice).

His moment of clarity

When I asked him what he thought went wrong, he believed it was mostly his meddling that led to the unremarkable minor change in the first rebrand, then the backflip in the second.

But he then added that since leaving the company, he now recognises they just didn’t have a good reason for doing that visual change. Their brand stood strong against the big 3 or 4 competitors, so the change was ultimately just because.

I asked if the internal changes and new market direction were a good enough reason... with his new hindsight, the answer was a flat “no”.

My take on this

In the absence of a clear vision, what remain are opinions and subjectivity.

Creative agencies are hired presumably because their skills and leadership from having run projects like this are needed. They generally do their best work when there’s a good brief and a clearly defined end-result to shoot for, which is on the creative agency themselves to obtain.

When that’s missing, it becomes an exercise in order-taking. Try this colour here, nudge that a bit to the left - where the person with the credit card (the CEO in this case) assumes control of the situation. With no vision to refer to, it just becomes a case of “I’m the boss and I don’t like it”.

In summary

Rebrands reflect change... but not every change in your organisation is a good reason for a rebrand.

Understanding when is a good time to rebrand and when isn't, is probably not a question you want to ask a highly incentivised creative agency (no disrespect to creative agencies).

One unbiased opinion from someone with no vested interest could spare you a lot of wasted time - and some big invoices.

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