• Transform magazine
  • June 26, 2019

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Insights: A hundred years from now

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The 2019 Transform Awards Europe will celebrate excellence in rebranding and brand development for the 10th year. JoosNabhan is nominated for the awards

Brands can live hundreds of years – like Colgate, established in 1873, or glassmaker LaRochère in 1475 – and during a brand’s lifetime, everything is possible. Merger, spin-off, scandal, collapse... There are highs and lows, and in the end, only those who adapt survive. But what does it mean to adapt when you’re a brand?

Brands serve a purpose.

A brand is an idea in people’s mind; an idea with a purpose driving people and businesses; an idea that sometimes need to adapt and change its identity.

When Dunkin’ Donuts dropped the ‘Donuts’ to simply go with Dunkin’ it was adapting to real life. People come in as much for coffee and sandwiches as they do for donuts. The name had to reflect this. The brand had to adapt.

But brand evolution can also go wrong, such as with Weight Watchers. When the company rebranded towards a new promise, ‘Wellness that Works,’ with a new brand name WW, the bottom line was a stock value decrease of 30%. Was the stretch towards a broad category such as wellness still purposeful to the brand audiences?

Brands evolve for a reason.

You don’t change your brand because you want to, but because you have to. There’s usually a problem that branding and design can solve. The evolution of FranceTelevisions towards France.tv reflects an insight in action. It starts with a question, “How do you adapt to the new consumption habits of video content?’ especially when you’re the French national TV network and have to remain institutional. You stay the same, but differently.

You go beyond television towards an online platform. You go from more than 30 brands to one touchpoint: France.tv with all your brand architecture and nomenclature following. You adapt to the digital era and category, staying true to who you are.

Change or be changed.

Some can argue that a brand has to engage a change in people’s habits, versus brands who adapt to new behaviors. Both are true, but they don’t occur at the same time. Creating a brand involves taking risks. Ford is the textbook case and is emblematic, creating a car rather than a cart with more horses. But more often than not, brands adapt. Another textbook case is Apple’s original insight that the machine has to adapt to people and not the opposite.

It all goes back to a simple fact: branding happens in people’s mind. When people change their minds, you have to change your brand. You adapt to make sure you’ll still be there in 100 years.

Pierre Nabhan is the co-founder of JoosNabhan