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The Corporate Identity Change Roadmap

Roadmap for Implementation by Stuart Greenfield , Consultant, Greenfield Marketing

A well-executed corporate identity change can revitalize your brand and enhance both internal and external communications. This comprehensive toolkit will guide you through the process, with a particular focus on the thinking behind the change and the approaches taken by successful companies.

Conduct research and analysis:

  • Assess your current identity, target audience, and competitors

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your existing brand

  • Evaluate the need for a monolithic approach or a unique brand approach, such as the one employed by Toyota when launching Lexus as a separate luxury brand

Develop a clear brand strategy:

  • Define your brand's mission, vision, and values

  • Establish a brand positioning statement that sets you apart from competitors

  • Determine the relationship between the corporate identity and associated brands, like the approach taken by fast food conglomerates, where unique sub-brands are owned by one corporate body

Create a distinctive visual identity:

  • Collaborate with a skilled design team or consultant

  • Develop a cohesive logo, color palette, typography, and imagery style that aligns with your brand strategy

  • Ensure your visual identity is adaptable across different platforms and media

Design versatile brand assets:

  • Create templates for business cards, letterheads, and email signatures that reflect the new identity

  • Design social media profile images, cover photos, and digital banners

  • Develop a brand style guide to maintain consistency across various touchpoints

Craft a compelling brand narrative:

  • Develop a brand story that resonates with your audience and communicates your brand's essence

  • Utilize storytelling techniques to emphasize the importance of conveying a brand's personality and values through its identity

  • Ensure your narrative is adaptable and can evolve with your brand over time

Implement the new identity internally:

  • Communicate the new brand strategy to employees through presentations, workshops, and training sessions

  • Update internal documents, intranet, and office spaces to reflect the new corporate identity

  • Encourage employee buy-in and foster a sense of pride and ownership in the new identity

Roll out the new identity externally:

  • Launch a coordinated marketing campaign to introduce the new identity to customers, partners, and stakeholders

  • Update your website, social media channels, and marketing materials to reflect the new identity

  • Manage customer expectations and address any concerns or confusion during the transition

Monitor and measure the impact of the new identity:

  • Track key performance indicators, such as brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement

  • Conduct ongoing audits to ensure brand consistency and adherence to the style guide

  • Use feedback to continuously refine and improve your corporate identity

In conclusion, a corporate identity change is a complex process that requires careful consideration, planning, and execution. By following this roadmap and learning from the approaches taken by successful companies you can create a powerful corporate identity that sets your company apart and drives long-term success.

Case Histories:

  • BP (British Petroleum): In 2000, BP underwent a significant rebranding effort, changing its logo from a shield to a green and yellow sunburst, dubbed the "Helios" symbol. The new identity aimed to emphasize the company's commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. While the rebrand initially garnered positive reactions, subsequent controversies have undermined the company's green image. The lesson: A new corporate identity must be backed up by genuine action and commitment to the values it represents.

  • PepsiCo: In 1996, PepsiCo introduced its "Project Blue" campaign, changing the background color of the Pepsi logo from red to blue. The rebrand aimed to portray Pepsi as a modern, forward-thinking brand. The company invested $500 million in the redesign and marketing campaign, and although the new identity faced mixed reactions, it successfully reinforced Pepsi's position as a major player in the beverage industry. The takeaway: A bold, well-executed rebranding effort can help reinforce a brand's market position.

  • Toyota and Lexus: When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, it opted for a unique brand approach, positioning Lexus as a separate luxury brand with its own distinct identity. This strategy allowed Toyota to cater to different market segments without diluting the existing Toyota brand. The result: Lexus became a successful luxury brand, competing with established names in the industry. The lesson: Carefully considering the relationship between the corporate identity and associated brands can help create a tailored approach that resonates with specific target audiences.

Case histories

  1. Apple: In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and initiated a significant brand turnaround. The company dropped the rainbow-colored Apple logo in favor of a simpler, monochromatic design. The new identity, along with a series of successful product launches, helped Apple regain its footing and eventually become one of the world's most valuable companies.

  2. IBM: After facing challenges in the 1990s, IBM shifted its focus from hardware to software and services, launching the "e-business" campaign in 1997. The new identity emphasized the company's role in the digital revolution and helped reposition IBM as a technology leader.

  3. Old Spice: In 2010, Old Spice launched its "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign, featuring a series of humorous ads that went viral. The new brand identity and marketing strategy successfully repositioned Old Spice as a modern, appealing brand to a younger audience.

  4. Burberry: Once associated with gang culture and declining sales in the early 2000s, Burberry underwent a massive rebranding effort. By repositioning itself as a luxury fashion brand and updating its product line, Burberry successfully revitalized its image and returned to profitability.

  5. McDonald's: In the early 2000s, McDonald's faced declining sales and a damaged reputation due to concerns over the healthiness of its food. The company revamped its menu to include healthier options, redesigned its stores, and updated its brand identity with a more modern look. These efforts helped McDonald's regain customer trust and improve sales.

  6. Netflix: Originally a DVD rental service, Netflix pivoted to online streaming in the late 2000s. The company's new identity and business model positioned Netflix as a pioneer in the streaming industry, allowing it to dominate the market and disrupt traditional media.

  7. Mastercard: In 2016, Mastercard simplified its logo by removing the company's name from the iconic interlocking circles. The updated identity aimed to reflect the company's evolution as a digital payment provider and its expanded range of services.

  8. Volkswagen: In 2019, Volkswagen introduced a new, simplified logo and brand identity as part of its "Transform 2025+" strategy. The rebrand aimed to emphasize the company's commitment to electric mobility, digitalization, and sustainability following the Dieselgate scandal.

Noteworthy Failures:

  1. Gap: In 2010, Gap briefly changed its iconic logo to a new design featuring a small blue square placed above the letter "p." The change faced immediate backlash from customers and designers alike, and Gap reverted to its original logo within a week. The lesson: Companies must be cautious when altering well-established and beloved brand identities.

  2. Tropicana: In 2009, Tropicana redesigned its packaging, replacing the familiar image of an orange with a straw with a generic glass of juice. Sales plummeted by 20% within two months, prompting Tropicana to revert to the original design. The takeaway: A brand's visual identity can have a significant impact on customer perception and loyalty

  3. Kodak: In the early 2000s, Kodak attempted to pivot from its traditional film business to digital photography. Despite a rebranding effort that included a new logo and marketing campaign, Kodak failed to adapt quickly enough to the rapidly changing market. In 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy. The lesson: A rebranding effort must be accompanied by effective business strategies that address the core challenges facing the company.

  4. New Coke: In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke" with a new formula and brand identity, aiming to compete with Pepsi. The change faced immediate backlash from consumers who preferred the original taste. Within three months, Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula as "Coca-Cola Classic." The takeaway: Companies must carefully consider the risks and potential consequences of altering products that have strong emotional connections with consumers.

Please contact Greenfield Marketing consultants for details on our branding services . I have personally managed identity changes for many international and national businesses and would be happy to discuss ho how I can help your business :


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