How to rebrand with consumer perceptions in mind

We’ve seen a lot of large companies rebrand and roll out new logos this year, only to face harsh backlash for their efforts.

Pulling off a rebrand is tricky enough without having to worry about upsetting your client base, and social media makes it easy for consumers to let you know exactly what they think about your new brand assets. It’s important to make sure that your rebrand enhances brand’s identity while maintaining or improving the integrity of your brand. You can learn how to rebrand with consumer perceptions in mind by taking a look at the companies that have (and haven’t) done it well.

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Instagram Logo Before RebrandInstagram Logo After Rebrand

In May, Instagram rolled out new changes to its interface, making the app streamlined so photos are enhanced by the lack of clutter. The brand also finally embraced the flat design trend along with the UX changes and released a new minimal logo, superimposed on a bright gradient.

The reaction

Consumers were passionate about the old logo, and their responses to the new design were overwhelmingly negative. According to Adweek, the marketing technology company Amobee Brand Intelligence analyzed social media posts from the day of the launch and determined that only 14% of their sentiments were positive. A couple of months have passed, and it seems as though consumers still have mixed feelings about the redesign, despite their love of Instagram's new interface, with one even saying: "I believe it was a plain change, however, it significantly gave a boost to the image as well as their new interface."



Uber App Icon Logo Before RebrandUber App Icon Logo After Rebrand

Uber is trying to shift its image and evolve the brand as it expands. Uber’s rebrand has a bit of an interesting backstory because the design effort was led by the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, instead of an agency or in-house design team. The icons for its rider and partner apps are tailored to each of the company’s 65 markets in the hopes of developing a more flexible brand that can be integrated into city life around the world.

The reaction

Though they thought the new design was pretty, consumers just didn’t get the story and said that the new icons were much harder to associate with the brand. In a recent survey by Pollfish, 44% of respondents said they didn’t know which company the new logo represented, while nearly 20% of respondents thought the new logo was associated with another brand, like Chase bank or Lyft. When we asked consumers, responses echoed the same idea: "I agree that the first was simple and easily recognizable. I didn't realize they had changed it until I went to open the app. I couldn't find it on my phone. I had to go to the App Store to see if I had deleted it. The new one is pretty but even after I read the explanation I didn't get it."



MET Metropolitan Museum of Art Logo Before Rebrand     MET Metropolitan Museum of Art Logo AfterRebrand

In March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a complete overhaul of the museum’s visual identity. The museum was faced with rebranding challenges unique to a museum that displays such a wide range of pieces and artistic styles. In its 146 years, the MET has never had a set of cohesive unifying visuals that unified all of its collections. The goal of this redesign was to make the museum visually consistent, accessible, and global.

The reaction

Some critics argued that the designs are too contemporary for the classical institution, and thought it was unusual that a nickname would be used as the museum’s logo for all of its digital and print correspondence. As for consumers, they felt nostalgic for the classical ‘M’ based upon a woodcut modeled after the works of DaVinci. While the MET’s collections may be visually unified for the first time, there’s something about the classical essence of the museum that is absent from the new design.


The takeaway

These branding efforts, from a design perspective, have all been centered around minimalist design. But can simplicity go too far? It turns out, consumers don’t always like the abstract. If the rebrand is not closely tied to a consumer’s perception of your products or services, there will definitely be push back. Remember that clarity and transparency are the most important factors when communicating your brand. If you find that a rebranding effort is necessary, be sure to stay true to the things consumers love about your brand’s identity.

Consumers, as a whole, will always need some time to adjust to large-scale changes, but taking a user-based approach can ensure that the transition is smoother for everyone involved. Just be sure to never forget who you’re designing for.

Need help with your branding? The award-winning designers at Propoint can help.


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Carine A.

Written by Carine A.