From time to time, we all need a change. The same is true for brands. If you’re plugged into the world of branding, it may seem like there’s more rebranding happening on any given day than there is branding. Thankfully, that’s not the case. While it’s true that certain industries refresh their brands more often than others, it’s not routine or required. Rebranding is simply a strategic response to change, and change is experienced differently from one industry to the next.
Because certain industries experience change more or less frequently than others, certain industries rebrand more or less frequently than others. To get a sense for where the home improvement industry falls on this spectrum, it helps to look in either direction. How is it that the soft drink industry can get away with seemingly constant rebranding? In contrast, why is it that professional sports teams rarely change? What kind of changes influence home improvement rebrands? How does knowing these changes help home improvement brands to see when their own rebrand might be on the horizon?
What Is a Rebrand Anyway
Rebranding is intervention. When a company or product takes action to reshape the way it is perceived by consumers, we call that action rebranding. A rebrand can be as subtle as changing a company’s messaging or as radical as adopting a whole new brand identity. It all depends on the reason for the intervention.
There are several reasons why companies and products choose to rebrand. But, in our experience, the number one reason is strategic alignment, when a brand no longer fits the mission of the organization.
Find out if you need a rebrand. Fill out the form to download our 8 Reasons to Rebrand Checklist and see how each issue played out in everyday brands.
The Soft Drink Industry: Competition and Consumption at Work
At one end of the rebranding spectrum is the beverage industry, which is dominated by global brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. On average, you can expect to see some level of rebranding from CPG brands like these every five years or so. Considering the size of these organizations, the amount of product they manufacture, the scale of distribution and the legal work required to trademark branded material, it’s easy to see that, behind the scenes, these brands are constantly rebranding.
The beverage industry is a high-return, high-consumption, global market. Given that the global soft drink market is currently worth about $1 trillion dollars a year and that the average American drinks a can of soda every day, brands at the top of the beverage industry cannot afford to slow down. It’s a high-stakes, fiercely competitive landscape. Brands have to hustle to gain and maintain market share, grow brand awareness, and develop products that are relevant and appealing to thirsty consumers.
In the first half of 2021, Coke revealed a new simplified design for its Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke brands. The design is color-centric with the iconic script positioned at the top of the packaging. With one of the world’s most recognized logo marks, the company is looking to further leverage their brand equity, making it easier for consumers to find their products and buy them.
In an interview with Design Week, Coca-Cola commented on the design by saying, “The intent is to provide a simple and intuitive navigation system that carries across all Coca-Cola variants, while simultaneously celebrating the Coca-Cola logo.” Another way to look at it is that Coca-Cola is at the top of the soft drink pyramid, and they want to stay there. One way to do that is to keep building the pyramid higher and higher, making it harder for others to keep up.
Motivators: Competition, Relevancy, Consumer Expectations
Professional Sports Brands: Why Reputation and Consistency Count
Opposite the grocery aisle, we can see a very different rate of change in the professional sports industry. Likewise, the influences that lead to rebranding efforts are equally distinct. Competition and consumer expectations are obviously powerful forces in professional sports. But, unlike the grocery industry, they typically don’t influence a rebrand. The brands behind professional sports teams are built around loyalty, performance, location and leadership. As such, these tend to be the critical motivators behind a rebrand.
We’ve seen these trends bubble up in rebrands such as the updated logo introduced by the Los Angeles Clippers that was unveiled in 2015. The rebrand was motivated by a change in ownership, years of poor performance and a racial scandal associated with the team’s former owner. The new logo was an emblem of hope and signified a new era for the Clippers.
In 2017, the San Diego Chargers relocated to L.A. and became the Los Angeles Chargers. A few years later in 2020, the team revealed a new logo, which according to the Chargers, was inspired by “the surf, skate and car cultures” of 1960s L.A. Unlike the Clippers, who needed a new identity to match a new and improved organizational culture, the Chargers were seeking to adapt their identity to suit a new location.
Another influence at work in professional sports rebranding is cultural awareness. One of the most recent rebrands is that of the Washington Football Team. Formerly named the Washington Redskins, the team rebranded in 2020 after years of criticism by Native American groups that the name was culturally insensitive.
Motivators: Ownership, Public Perception, Relocation
The Home Improvement Industry: The Power of Position and Strategy
Now that we have a better understanding of why other industries rebrand, we can situate the home improvement industry on the spectrum. While the soft drink industry is constantly changing in response to competition and consumption, professional sports brands are more constant, changing in response to more radical shifts in organizational identity. The home improvement industry sits somewhere in between these two industries. Home improvement rebrands can happen in response to changes in ownership, growth and competition. As we mentioned earlier, however, the number one reason we have been called on to help home improvement manufacturers rebrand is strategic realignment.
When Hunter Industries approached Porchlight to help re-design their packaging, it was clear that their image and positioning was incongruous. In the “good, better, best” world of positioning, Hunter’s HC irrigation product is at the top. It’s a high-tech irrigation system and includes features beyond that of the competition. The new packaging featured a new structure and visual system to align with the brand’s positioning.
Our work with Genie garage door openers was sparked by a similar need. Specifically, Genie partnered with Porchlight to strengthen their shelf presence. Their product line had grown to include multiple products that were not easily recognizable as part of a brand family. Porchlight saw the need to streamline multiple products into one cohesive brand. The new packaging featured a simplified color palette and distilled messaging to help clearly articulate value.
Similar influences can be seen in rebrands outside Porchlight’s portfolio. Consider the classic home improvement brands like Stanley and Black + Decker. In 2014, we were introduced to Black + Decker, an updated version of the former Black & Decker brand. According to branding agency Lippincott, the updated visual identity was part of a larger effort to refine the brand’s positioning and strategy.
The same strategic realignment led to the 2013 rebrand of Stanley. Granted, Stanley and Black + Decker are part of the same company and used the same agency to update both brands. But, according to Stanley, the need for a new strategy was the same. In an interview with Hartford Business, Stanley’s Steve Lawrence stated that the company had grown dramatically and needed a new strategy “to support better the true nature and scope of the Stanley brand today and tomorrow.” Speaking of frequency, according to Lawrence, Stanley has had only three logos in 170 years.
A close runner-up to strategic realignment is ownership. Home improvement brands do change hands from time to time, causing a need for identity redirection. One example is Skil, which rebranded in 2018 when it was purchased by Chervon.
Motivators: Strategic Realignment, Growth, Ownership
No matter the industry, rebranding is a big undertaking. It requires a lot of resources and commitment. For home improvement brands, which sit in the middle of the rebranding spectrum, there’s good news in that overhauling your brand isn’t inevitable. If you are paying close attention to changes in your audience, your category and your brand positioning, the likelihood is high that you will be prepared should a rebrand be necessary.
If you’re still feeling uncertain about whether your brand is in need of a little intervention, we can help. Our 8 Reasons to Rebrand Checklist provides a complete list for review.