There’s been a lot of talk over the internets the last few weeks in regards to big brands’ rebranding efforts.
On August 23, 2012 Microsoft unveiled its new logo, the first update of its kind in last 25 years for the Redmond-based software giant.
More recently, eBay also took the plunge and refreshed its logo. A logo that has remained untouched in the company’s 17 year history.
This post isn’t so much to debate the shortcomings of these updated logos and skewed marketing strategies (albeit I believe they are both diluted and soulless), I’ll save that for a future post when I talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2012.
This post is instead created to explore whether these updates were actually rebrands, or simply logo refreshes.
What’s the different between rebranding and refreshing?
The difference is huge. While the answer might seem obvious to some, the words “branding” and “rebranding” have been horribly Frankensteined by wayward marketing companies, typically by those who don’t understand the true function of branding.
Is the act of altering the vision, mission, position, and promise of a company. Because this change of course is such a big deal both internally and externally, once the brand strategy is determined, a visual and written change in the communication of the company typically accompanies the rebranding efforts. Logos get updated, colours and fonts change, language is refined, and in extreme cases, companies even rename.
Refreshing is the act of changing the aesthetic components of a brand, typically to update the appearance and revitalize the company’s image. This is the brand marketing equivalent of updating a wardrobe or getting a new haircut. The individual’s values, beliefs, and personality usually haven’t changed, just their image has.
Now having an understanding of the difference between rebranding and refreshing, were Microsoft’s and eBay’s updates in fact rebrands or were they simply refreshes?
Microsoft = Refresh
In the case of Microsoft, nothing has changed. While it’s expanded its product line with the Windows Phone, they still offer Windows, they still offer Office, they still offer Internet Explorer, and they still offer Xbox. There’s no change in the company’s purpose, there’s no change in market position, there’s no change in brand promise, and there’s no change in the customer experience.
eBay = Rebrand
eBay’s situation is quite different than Microsoft’s. Once an on-line garage sale and auction site, eBay has evolved into a global marketing channel for people to launch their online stores and sell their goods. In this case, there’s a colossal change in what the company now offers and how it operates. When an evolution like this takes place, marketing strategies must adapt. Even if it’s organic, a brand has no choice but to reposition itself in the minds of its customers to ensure the experience is being communicated and delivered as promised.
So now you know.