The following is excerpted with permission from Tony Spaeth’s Winter 2010 article in The Conference Board Review.
The identity recession: Why are companies so cautious about rebranding themselves?
A downturn can represent an opportune time to rebrand. In a time of turmoil, companies find themselves rethinking their customer base, their lines of business, their very identity. Some retreat to focus on their core competencies; others look to expand by snapping up troubled competitors.
You’d think more would publicize their shifts with new logos and identities, particularly when newspapers and TV stations are practically giving away ad pages and commercial slots. And indeed, some companies did launch rebrandings in 2009. Several are worth studying for their strategic interest, excellent execution, and perhaps for their courage.
To quote Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer for Landor Associates: “In a downturn, there is no better way to increase share than to invest in marketing while others are retrenching, just like there’s no better time to buy a house when others are selling. There’s just one catch to the theory: You have to have the cash on hand. And in 2009, the bottom fell out of the capital market, so understandably, clients are cautious about spending money. This has impacted rebranding initiatives, and corporate advertising and PR as well.”
…good design—systemwide—is just like good accounting: It both reflects and demonstrates the presence of effective management. And a rebranding can be anything but cosmetic: Well planned and timed, it can be the single most powerful agent of change at a leader’s command. And certainly, it can also be the most cost-effective—in the larger scheme of things, we’re talking peanuts. (The base price of implementing a non-retail institutional rebranding can be little more than the cost of a signature change.)
Prospects for rapid recovery from the identity recession look very good indeed.
Read the full article on tcbreview.com: The Identity Recession.
Tony Spaeth is a corporate identity consultant based in Rye, N.Y. Additional views and reflections can be seen on his website Identity Works.