Rebranding The Art Of Letting Go

Rebranding: The Art Of Letting Go


The tech world is probably the fastest growing but also the fastest moving out there. To make a name for themselves, most brands try to stay ahead of the curve, some of them have brilliant ideas and design from the beginning, so they don’t need to revamp as much (Apple) although they do make occasional bug changes to keep the soul of the company alive. Other companies are not as fortunate, but their resilience and strength lies in their adaptability (Google). For companies like Google, that build to such an extent that they’ve reached 289 shut down projects, rebranding is the key to an identity that can incorporate all that they’ve evolved to be. This long trail of what Google represented at specific times in their history is cultural and business heritage.


The Dilemma

Staying ahead of the curve, we hear it all the time. But in a time where the curve seems to be moving ever so fast, how does a tech company do that. The case studies we’re going to explore today follow different approaches to staying ahead of the curve, and how does design and branding play a role in this.

When it comes to branding, everybody would like it to be a one off, something that you just do once and then forget about it, but tech giants know better. The greatest companies in the world have not only gone through multiple iterations of their visual identity and design elements. In times of dire need, they’ve changed leadership, values, and even reinvented themselves from the rubbles. What makes you immune to such changes? Shouldn’t you, as your company goes through its stages of evolution towards a mature and fully-formed entity, embrace change?

These are scary questions, but answer them in the beginning, when you’re filled with the excitement of a new idea, and you’re going to set yourself up to an easier navigation of the challenges to come.


The Emotional Connection

Most companies start from the bottom, a place where it’s just one or two people with an idea and (hopefully) common goals. Not all companies are meant to stay there though. As you and your partners raise a projects from its infancy to its adulthood you may grow attached to what it represents. Maybe it’s a specific workflow, a design system, a shape, a color, some people inside the company, but in some cases, although well intentioned, these attachments can harm the very thing you’re trying to protect: your company’s soul.

As it’s the case with real people, an initiative can have toxic friends, phases where it might dress weird or even be completely unproductive. It is very important to build a wall of distinction between what your company is, and what you personally feel during a specific period of time, although it might be related to your company.


The Redefinition Of Values

Let’s take a look at Google, who are just celebrating their 25 year anniversary (Happy birthday!) by showing us the evolution of their logo. During this 25 years there have been 7 distinct Google logos, more than 5000 unique Google doodles, 560 Google products launched, out of which 289 were shut down, and God only knows how many Google variants of UI for their search engine.

If we were to take the Wayback Machine to a 2012 or 2015 Google, yes, we might feel a bit of nostalgia, but does anyone at Google regret making the change? Probably not. If it weren’t for Google’s constant and stubborn reinvention we would all probably be browsing the internet using DuckDuckGo or who knows what else.

Another interesting story of resilience is that of Romanian e-commerce giant Emag. In 2015, after a successful rebranding and expansion inside of Romania, they tried to expand into Poland. The transition to a new market was much more difficult than expected, partly because of loyalty towards local competitors and partly because they didn’t perfectly understand the culture they were trying to expand to. In 2020, after 5 harsh years, they had to give up on operating in a second country, but they regrouped. The core values of the company lead them to an acquisition instead of a somber retreat. Flip Romania, an already popular phone reseller and refurbisher, became part of the Emag group, Tazz became their brand new food delivery service, and thus a new era of Emag came to be, fresher than ever before. Sometimes rebranding is not only about visual identity, a shiny new logo, or some new corporate kit. Sometimes it might just be about reorienting your focus, rethinking what is of paramount to your success, or just bringing in new forces inside of your group.


The Illusion Of Immunity

Even a company like Apple, who does not boast about their logo changes over the years, as they want us to feel like they’re ever present in the tech landscape, is not immune to change. Their logo has had multiple appropriate for the specific time in culture effects added on top of it. Even now, as they seem to have settled over the flat variation of it, this has enabled them to bring us a different cinematic effect for the introduction of their logo in every single keynote. Yes, a good branding is future-proof, but a good company knows that almost nothing is.


The Creation Of Heritage

Trends come and go, technologies of yesterday are the museum pieces of today, that is why the soul of a company should always lie in something more than a specific design element or a specific product. People buy because they empathize with a vision. That is why clients look at Google’s logo evolution over the years, Apple’s everchanging keynote animated logo, Emag story of regrouping, and what their organization has come to represent, and we get a greater than life feeling.

This is heritage. Withstanding so many events, new technologies, trends, regulations, and sticking to a vision makes us feel like the company we’re interacting with is more than a group of shareholders. It makes us feel like there’s a personal connection with a real brand.


The End

Hopefully I didn’t come of as aggressively arguing for letting go of what is of value to you or your company. During a rebranding process, it is important to communicate your entire understanding of your brand, your history, your soul, but when confronted with the truth it is also important to realize that the soul of your company may not lie where you think it does, and you might’ve just grown attached to the wrong thing.

These tough decisions and distinctions are mainly why rebranding isn’t just letting go, but the art of letting go.


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