How to Succeed at Brand Changes

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©2010 Barbara DeLouise

One thing’s for sure about GAP’s recent logo debacle (if you missed it, here’s a quick summary by Huffington Post): they got a lot of visibility for their brand. Hmmm, maybe that was actually the point?  Hard to know, but when changing your corporate logo in this era of social media, it’s important to consider more than what your brand consultants tell you. You need to consult your users.  When considering changing any key aspect of your branding—colors, logo and/or tag line—consider these four points of input:

1.        Current customers/clients/donors.  Organizations that already have deep roots into social networks can use them for feedback. But it’s also good to use old-fashioned focus groups, with a trained professional to run them. However realize that all of these sources are subjective and subject to change from a variety of external pressures you can’t necessarily control.

2.       Prospective customers/clients/donors.  This one is always a bit harder to pinpoint, but a firm specializing in both quantitative and qualitative survey data can help you hone in on key submarkets and assess the resonance of your new branding with them.

3.       Vendors.  I know, on first blush this seems odd. But as one of the people who often has to deal with people’s new logos (for multimedia/video production), I’m often struck by how they don’t work across multiple mediums.  Check in with your favorite printer, video producer, webmaster and be sure the font and color can work in their medium.  See how the logo looks when it is faxed, projected, and seen on various screens (LCD’s being different than some TV screens, for example).  And especially, what happens when you view it on a Blackberry or iPhone?

4.       Your mother.  I know, it’s totally unscientific, but if your mother would hate this logo, you might want to reconsider it.  Call it the “gut check.”  If there’s something bothering you about it now, imagine when it is imprinted on everything around you!

While I don’t fully agree with GAP’s post-logo plan to use crowd-sourcing to design a new logo–and they ultimately pulled the plug on that unwieldy idea–I do agree with the concept that in today’s era of “dialogue,” you need to include the customer in your decision-making. That said, it’s pretty hard to create good design by committee. So ultimately you have to trust your own process. Just be sure to have one.

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