The hidden dangers of rebranding your business

Wednesday 2 September 2015
Nic Crowther's picture
Co Editor
The Shaker

The cost of your public face

It’s a big day for design nerds and logo trainspotters. Two global brands are celebrating the highs and lows of facing the public, and one has certainly proved more successful than the other. It does make us wonder, "How much does all this cost… and why?"



Big bucks for big brands.

How many times have you seen the headline filled with rage: “$1.5 million spent on new logo for Company X”? It sounds unbelievable to spend that amount of money on the doodlings of a macchiato-sipping hipster, but the real costs of a new logo are a broad as they are immeasurable.

Firstly, let’s clear up the myth of the design cost. Most reports, when covering logo updates (particularly for government bodies), ignore the fact that the real cost of rebranding an organisation is in the implementation of the logo. That is: placing the brand on every letterhead, business card, uniform, building, vehicle, software, website, etc, etc…You get the picture.

For global organisations this can cost a significant amount of money.



Brand Value

However, the impact of a new logo can be something a lot more valuable. The current logo for the Commonwealth Bank has been in use for over 25 years, but maintains a contemporary feel. Only 12 months after its implementation, market research revealed that the mark has 97% brand recognition – compared with less than 70% recall of the logo that preceded it. Clearly the logo had done its job repositioning the bank following its float as a public company. A good thing, as implementation cost $11 million dollars… in 1990!

So, today, Google has unveiled its new logo – in keeping with the announcement last month to reposition its search business under the umbrella company, Alphabet. While it may be news to you at the moment, you’re likely to see the logo another 20 times today as you go about your daily business. With a clean-up to remove serifs, the logo maintains its stunningly familiar colourway to ensure continual brand recognition.


When it all goes wrong

At the other end of the spectrum is the poor organisation that is trying to cobble together the Tokyo Olympics. It wasn’t enough that Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary Olympic Stadium was canned, now there are accusations of plagiarism around the logo that was to appear in all corners of the earth over the next five years.



It’s not hard to see that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo is similar to that of the Theatre de Liege in Belgium. Those who’ve dabbled in logo design would probably have to admit the use of serifs in that manner is something of an obvious solution that has been used many times before.

This problem highlights one of the problems of designing a brand for business within a global business environment: How do you create something truly unique that stands out from the crowd?

The solution is simple. You need to truly understand what your brand represents, and then work with a team that is capable of translating this into a visual representation. While it will inevitably use a colour or a typeface that someone else has used, it’s the combination of these basic elements and your brand’s personality that will create and express something truly unique.