1 Aug 2016

You say you want a revolution…



To stay relevant every brand needs to change from time to time, to stay ahead of the competition, to be cutting edge and work harder in the ever changing digital age. but, perhaps, an evolution is really what you want. Jaid Hulsbosch analyses this decision using the recent update to the UK’s Tate Modern as an example.

When UK, art institution the Tate relaunched its branding in May 2000, it was revolutionary. The ‘Look again. think again’ system helped Tate become one or the most recognised and celebrated cultural brands in the world. While the logo is now iconic. the overall system needed greater focus.

North Design were presented with the opportunity to review the visual identity in mid-2015. In revisiting the original ‘look again, think again’ concept it became quickly apparent that starting from scratch wasn’t necessary. Recently, in June, a reworked logo and identity was launched to co-incide with the opening of a new building for Tate Modern.

The Tate branding wasn’t b the decision to focus on a refresh – rather than an entirely new visual look was significant in their brand strategy. A rejuvenating brand evolution has kept the creative spirit but transformed the Tate’s visual communications.

When an identity has strength and substance as has happened with the Tate project – it’s a great example of designers ‘not throwing out the old for the sake of the new’.The main challenge for the Tate was a spread of identity – holding an extraordinary 75-logo variations including inconsistent visual identities across its 4 venues. Consistency is key and critical to brand success in order to develop and grow recognition.

“The ‘Look again. think again’ system helped Tate become one or the most recognised and celebrated cultural brands in the world.”

Another aspect of the review centred around the Tate logo. The new logo has evolved to a simpler iteration with a tidying up of the dot work – consolidating 3,000 dots to 340 – with the new expression being an adaptable logo for a range of platforms.
A consideration in the analysis was the enormous amount of brand equity that remained from the Tate work of 2000 and the decision, despite the client brief, was a conscious effort to maintain that equity without losing its significance in a major brand overhaul.

Though the Tate brand was communicating and needed to remain relevant, the brand refresh introduced new applications while keeping the recognition between old and new.

“The decision to refresh the Tate and harness the existing equity has shown that, with careful examination, it exposes the real value of inherited brand work.“

So, how does one decide to refresh or revolutionise?

To ascertain the current value of a brand the research remains the same. Based on a rigorous research program, an agency can advise if marketing and communications are relevant and if there is an opportunity to evolve or revolutionise a brand.

Research methodology is based on an alignment with specific objectives and will inform what type of research is implemented. It can include tasks that provide information gathered from competitive and market analysis (both local and international), qualitative and quantitative consumer, client or customer research interviews or focus groups, mystery shopper studies, internal or external stakeholder interviews, ethnographic studies, online surveys, etc.

As a branding agency we set out to find better ways to connect with a client’s customers and some of the following questions inform a branding strategy:

• How does the current brand strategy fit with the business strategy?
• How does the identity fit with the brand positioning?
• How well does the brand perform against competitors?
• Does the brand communicate what it needs to communicate?

As Woolworths showed, it was time to revolutionise Australia’s largest supermarket brand because the old identity was not a true representation of what the company stood for. Hulsbosch’s corporate rebrand included a new identity representing the biggest change to their communications since the introduction of “The Fresh Food People” two decades earlier.

The launch of the identity as “Australia’s new symbol for fresh food” was an update that resonated with consumers.

In 2011, the new brand creative for Woolworths Supermarkets was named as Australia’s most valuable brand worth more than $7 billion (according to an independent report conducted by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance). It was also voted one of the top five rebrands in the world, as ranked by brandchannel.com.

A refresh is no less a valuable contribution for a brand as Hulsbosch experienced with MLC. Their direction was clear in consolidating communication strategies with an identity that could be a visual representation of its core business values.

The iconic MLC ‘Nest Egg’ brand logo still had relevance and still communicated to the market what the brand was and its value.

MLC was one of the first to realise their identity was not going to carry them forward. The Hulsbosch brand evolution of the MLC nest egg in the mid 90’s was a simple, modern look that demonstrated the continuing evolution and innovation of the business and took them into the digital age.

“Today, if the branding solution is a refreshing evolution or complete revolution it has to be stronger than ever.”

Today, if the branding solution is a refreshing evolution or complete revolution it has to be stronger than ever, so it can be applied to an ever-increasing, complex array of platforms in the digital world.

A well-thought-out brand program communicates everything about a business and excellent branding is timeless. International brand agent Wolff Olins’ revolutionary ‘look again, think again’ concept of 2000 has with time, successfully endured.

Wolff Olins has put the Tate through a thorough branding rethink and their work changed the way that Britain saw art and the way the world saw Britain. However, it remains a bold decision by North to use inherited assets for the Tate but they only had in mind what was best for the client.

The decision to refresh the Tate and harness the existing equity has shown that with careful examination it exposes the real value of inherited brand work. By keeping identity first above all else, a legacy can be thesolid foundations to move forward and ensure longevity for the brand.