They say the only constant in life is change and for companies, life in the digital era is no different.
Information – and more importantly, reputation – travels at the speed of a mouse click or a tap on a smartphone. Customers’ opinions, as well as their demands, change just as quickly – and keeping up can mean a serious rebranding to match the new reality.
That doesn’t mean that the best can’t make it work. Here’s a roundup of how some of the biggest brands in the world have handled their digital-era rebrands, and why.
Playboy Goes PG
Love it or hate it, media giant Playboy is a juggernaut. But as more coveted, coveting eyeballs are moving towards digital delivery, even Playboy needs to adapt to fit into the most common moulds: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the others. There’s just one problem… Nudity cannot be shared on these platforms. So guess what? Playboy is dropping nudity. And it announced the news via the New York Times.
“The magazine will adopt a cleaner, more modern style, said Cory Jones, who as Chief Content Officer also oversees its website. There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be ‘PG-13’ and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. ‘A little more accessible, a little more intimate,’ he said. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.”
It’s an amazing example of how a rebrand can help better fit digital marketing and content. The Next Web called it yet another example of ‘social media hegemony’. Its circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to 800,000 today so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on how the rebrand affects their bottom line (even with fewer bottoms).
Lenovo rebranded to turn their logo itself into an opportunity for user-generated content. - Highlight to share -
Lenovo in a post-PC world
Whether decent or indecent, content is content, and it drives branding in the digital era. Lenovo, the largest PC company in the world, rebranded to turn their logo itself into an opportunity for user-generated content. In moving towards being a “net-centric company,” Lenovo created a changeable, Photoshop-able new image.
Lenovo’s chief marketing officer David Roman explained the thinking behind the new identity at the company’s Tech World event in Beijing last week as reported by Business Insider:
“We want people to see us as being this company that spans different categories, that has this attitude of ‘Never Stand Still’, that’s really focused on the internet … so let’s have a logo that helps us convey that.”
And it’s all about UGC as online magazine Adage explained:
“There will be no branding campaign around the new logo; it will be rolled out as an organic change under the brand idea ‘Never Stand Still.’ As part of the ‘Never Stand Still’ initiative, Lenovo used creative-industry crowdsourcer Tongal to post a brief seeking five different takes on original branded screenplays to become films. It also recently began a #IHackedLife campaign soliciting lifehacks and will show some of the best ideas at Tech World.”
Big brands don’t have to be afraid of alienating existing customers with rebrands as long as they stick to their principles. - Highlight to share -
But the reaction to it has been lukewarm. Corporate and brand-identity magazine Brand New were hardly impressed:
‘It’s all still relatively bland but at least in application it has some energy to it that could evolve into a recognisable identity’.
Google’s still Google
As long as we’re talking big, how about the biggest giant of them all? Google. The multifaceted, multi-invested company is in the business of imagining – and then creating – the face of the digital era, but it had too many ventures in its portfolio to create one coherent brand, even with all the resources in the world. Sometimes, a rebrand can help streamline both your business model and your marketing. From the Guardian:
The move “changes nothing about the company’s impact and challenges it poses for consumers”, the nonprofit public interest group Consumer Watchdog said.
But, despite these warnings, the reaction to the rebrand according to PR Week was positive and even solicited some great content:
Hi @Google, you’ve inspired us too… #Googlelogo #SmilingE pic.twitter.com/RIuysTkdsk
— Heineken NL (@Heineken_NL) September 1, 2015
Have a look at Google’s own take on their rebrand (which is great content marketing in itself).
Big brands don’t need to be afraid of alienating existing customers with rebrands as long as they stick to their principles. Be bold though; rebrands can’t happen every day.