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Rebranding the rebrand: why only the simplest brands will stand out in a sea of confusion

By Sophie Lutman

January 24, 2013 | 4 min read

Advances in digital technology have had an incalculable effect on the nature of branding. The challenges involved with brand creation have increased since the digital revolution; brands now need to live across every platform, encompassing everything from social media to mobile. Yet as technology becomes increasingly complex, the branding industry has had to do the opposite in order to adapt – and go back to basics.

The instantly recognisable face of Apple

This principle becomes particularly important when developing a brand for a global audience. Whereas initially a brand may have different faces for different markets to ensure that it resonates with different consumers, the increased blurring of lines between markets means that this is now less important. While in the past branding had to be complex to stand out, now a ‘less is more’ approach is more effective.

Streamlining provides a clean and simple message that creates a recognisable ‘face’ for the brand. Many companies are able to successfully transcend borders; looking at prolific examples such as Apple and Facebook it is clear that although there are changes between markets, these are minimal and still the brand resonates everywhere.

Stripping designs back to just a simple logo or colour scheme means that the brand can be easily recognised on any platform, anywhere in the world, and has greater cut-through. Through simplification, you remove some of the surrounding noise and consequently strengthen the brand, making it relevant and different in each of its markets. The results speak for themselves – after we employed these techniques on a recent re-brand project for online bookings agency, it certainly helped to increase the number of app downloads, which currently stands at over 10 million.

Just small adjustments can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your brand. Often using different logos to represent the brand in different markets is ineffective as it can detract from the product itself and create confusing messaging, so choosing a unified emblem across markets can be a powerful tool. Even something as simple as the colour scheme can also play an important role in making a brand stand out in a crowded marketplace – for instance, in the case of, through changing this from yellow to red, we produced a more striking aesthetic to single the brand out from its competitors. This simplicity becomes particularly important for brands that have a focus on mobile to ensure that the brand works on all interfaces.

A rebrand is never without its challenges, but when considering the vast array of platforms that the brand may be active on, it can seem a more daunting prospect than ever. What is most important is ensuring that the brand makes an impact and that it is recognisable wherever it is seen – something which can often be overlooked in the race to have a presence in every touchpoint.

Complicated, noisy designs serve only to confuse, and make it considerably harder to achieve global consistency. Keeping it simple should allow you to reap the rewards of a unique footprint for your brand, wherever you are in the world.

Sophie Lutman is creative director at international branding agency Lambie-Nairn


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