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B2B Marketing

Branding: When Small Change Makes Sense

When it comes to branding, companies hesitate. They do not want to invest time and money in making changes that may turn customers away – their worst nightmare is to use a new branding strategy that makes customers believe the “improved” look makes for a cheaper product or service.

But as times change, and people and companies grow, small changes in branding can go a long way with customers. It doesn’t need to be a huge overhaul of a logo that make consumers wonder if it’s even the same brand. Subtle, classic changes can be made to enhance and appeal to the customer’s eye.

Change Can be Good

A rather older example of branding change that made an impact was Kentucky Fried Chicken – changing their logo to simply read “KFC” with a new position of Colonel Sanders on the label. This was done in 1991, and it reflected a change in consumer attitudes of wanting “fast food.” KFC is certainly easier to say than Kentucky Fried Chicken. The change was a success. Then, in 2006, KFC made a more subtle change in branding – this time, to the Colonel himself. They changed his outfit from the crisp, white linen suit to wearing a red apron over his suit. The image change was a hit with consumers.

It was a subtle, small branding change in both these cases that reflected a message to consumers – #1 “we’re keeping up with you,” and #2 – “we’re still down home cooking.” To date, it has been a successful change that has continued to improve the company’s image.

More recent, subtle branding change examples are from Delta and the Girl Scouts. Perhaps the gold standard in branding success stories, Delta has created a visually appealing image with subtle changes, that tell the customers and market share holders that they are willing to “keep climbing” toward their ultimate goals. Most consumers have even forgotten that Delta went bankrupt at one point. But it’s not simply because of the new branding strategy – they back up their rebranding with providing superior customer experiences.

“Go big or go home” is not a great motto for branding changes – consumers will sometimes enjoy a large change or updated look, but for the most part, they like consistency over ostentatious changes. The best way to decide if a branding change is the right thing to do is – and this may be obvious to some – is to test market with consumers. Get feedback before rolling out big changes or even little changes, and not only with the regular consumers of a product, but with those who might not have been a customer at first. Some changes can attract new customers to a product or service – thereby increasing profitability and market share.

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Adam Vandergang

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