Brand Redesign and Updating – Worth the Effort?

Recently several brands have redesigned their “look”. Updating visual elements of a brand is often an attempt to keep the brand relevant and contemporary.  Among the brands that have undergone recent renovations are Pepsi and Xerox.

At Pepsi the brand update comes with a $1.2 billion price tag over the next 3 years.  According to Chairman-CEO Indra Nooyi characterized as a revamp of “every aspect of the brand proposition for our key [carbonated soft drink] brands. How they look, how they’re packaged, how they will be merchandised on the shelves, and how they connect with consumers.”

The new logo, on the right, is supposed to represent a “smile.” Losing the symmetric look of the earlier logo and opting for something that lacks symmetry is a interesting move.  The new logo is visually more interesting.  If, as promised, the brand’s proposition is updated (not just the visual brand elements), then Pepsi may be on to something.

Xerox’s new logo has good and some not-so-good features. Xerox uses a custom font called Xerox Sans. The all lower-case logo certainly makes the brand feel more “open and approachable” as Xerox CEO Ursula Burns suggested.

The old logo did not translate well in the Web 2.0 world. It was a 40-year old look that        certainly was in need of some renovation.  Is the new logo effective at communicating the fact that Xerox is more than a photocopier? The lower-case font is stylish and will work well in the Web. What about the “beach ball” as AdRants called it.

The ball is open to a lot of different interpretations. The company wants to convey the message that the “X” is the ball represents relationships with different stakeholders and parterns. I am not sure that is obvious.  The result might be some confusion.

Recently, the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada had an internal debate on changing their name.  This got a fair bit of media coverage. The CBC Radio interviewed me and asked me if this was a good idea. Unlike the Pepsi and Xerox examples, where the intent is to update and refresh the brand, the NDP was seeking a new brand name. Some of the ideas (such as Democratic Party, to capitalize on Obama’s popularity) sounded silly.

The NDP had undergone a visual update not too long ago with the addition of a “green” maple leaf, which seemed to make sense.  As a positioning strategy this might appeal to the voters on the far left who vote for the Green Party. Is a name change really necessary or a logo update combined with a more appealing “brand proposition” are Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi called it, the way to go?  I thought a name change without new brand or value proposition is simply old wine in a new bottle.  You can hear what I said to CBC here:  NDP Brand Name Change – CBC Radio.

British Petroleum’s transformation to BP with the tagline “beyond petroleum” seemed to work as the company attempted to position itself as an environmental responsible energy company.  Logo changes can confuse consumers.  Brand name changes can significantly affect brand equity if not executed with great care.

There is nothing wrong in reexamining the brand’s visual elements and value proposition from time to time. It may, in fact, be a good thing. The problem is that most of the changes are either superficial or ill-conceived that they have little impact on the brand performance.