Re-Branding and Evolution: Growing Pains of a Brand

The theory of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin emphasises that organisms change, or develop, over time. A brand is not different from nature in that there is no stagnation; only growth and collapse.
Change is inevitable, but many changes happening over a short period of time will have many brands questioning their relevance. This question determines how and when a brand needs to refresh. A rebrand is a major change in the way a company appears and presents itself. A new logo, a new name, a redesign, a messaging shift, and a new brand or product position are all elements of Brand Revolution.
For example, Mascoms’ slogan/brand promise used to be ‘’In touch with your life’’ before it was ‘’Number 1 because of you.’’ This was Mascom’s signal to their audience that they were entering a new era in their business and that their activities coming forward would bring about change. Evidence of this is launching of products and services that have become relevant to audiences in every season, e.g. the recent launch of 5G technology.
In February 2022, telco giant MTN unveiled a new logo. A sleek black design replaced the original yellow, blue and white emblem. Nompilo Morafo, MTN’s chief sustainability and corporate affairs officer, said the new appearance “reflects the business’s transition from a telecommunication to a technology company”.
Other brands such as Pep, Coca Cola and Pula Medical Aid have changed their logos and brand looks to reflect their strategic plans. Simply put, for brands to stay relevant and maintain their brand position, they must evolve. From the examples I have given, it is clear that company colours are usually kept the same, and it is the design aspects that are updated. This is because companies don’t want to risk losing the brand recognition that they have worked so hard to build by changing their brand identity.
Pepsi is one of the world’s most well-known beverage brands. The brand, which was founded in 1893, has gone through various logo modifications over the years. But despite the periodic logo revisions, Pepsi maintains its brand identity by sticking to the same colour palette. The company’s signature colours of red, blue and white are still in use today. Pepsi has effectively transformed its brand while maintaining its basic business character. Another brand that has done the same is Levi.
Though a brand evolution starts with a logo, it is more than that. Every component of a brand should fit into customers’ ever-changing perspectives and evolve alongside them. This is brand evolution – changing, redesigning and launching a slew of brand-new products and services. It is all about rewriting the brand’s story as they progress through each chapter, sharing stories about the brand and its meaning.
In 2020, we witnessed Barclays Bank Botswana transition to ABSA. It wasn’t just the logo that changed; their branches were refurbished, bank cards, forms, staff uniform, digital footprint, every aspect of the Barclays Bank brand had to completely absorbed the ABSA brand. Unlike other examples where only the logo changed but the colours remain intact, Barclays Bank made a 360 shift from blue to red.
Other examples are Mercedes Benz and Apple, though apple remained an apple the colour variations changed over time and this is the same for Mercedes Ben
Brand evolution and refresh is time consuming, expensive and should be done cautiously. As an organisation’s strategy changes, so should the brand. It is critical to have a strong brand, stay competitive and maintain an edge.
This is not only prevalent with organisations but individuals as well. Snoop Dogg changed to Snoop Lion after converting to Rastafarianism. Sean Coms, who was known as Puff Daddy in the 1990s, went by the names Puffy, P Diddy and eventually Diddy in 2005. He is now set to change his legal name to Sean Love Combs.
Locally, faded gang rapper/producer Tshiamo Molefe changed his name from Ammo Ski Mask to Balaclava Blanco. The fact is that a brand, regardless of its nature or industry, must evolve.
A rebrand is a major change in the way a company or individual looks or presents themselves. This could imply a total rebranding, a new name, or a shift in messaging across all other brand assets. This is frequently accompanied by a relaunch or a big reveal to show stakeholders or customers that a change is on the way just as we have read about MTN.
A brand evolution, on the other hand, is for organisations that wish to cling to their core principles and maintain consumer familiarity. They achieve this by making little adjustments such as a new colour palette, tone of voice, logo redesign, or just presenting ideals from a different perspective, an example being Pepsi.
Marketers should always bear in mind that brands do not exist in a vacuum and must develop with the world to become stronger and more authentic to their mission. Organisations shouldn’t be afraid to give a brand a new look or a new direction now and then; to embrace trends rather than avoiding them and see the brand as a live, breathing, evolving creature. And lastly, it is important to always remember to take customers along on this journey.