Modern brands involve more than a company logo and some packaging design. They should also encompass the customer experience.
Customers change over time, and so do markets. So for any business that intends to survive in the market, the question that should be examined regularly is relevance.
How relevant is a product or business model to the current market? Is the total brand experience still relevant to the core target audience of potential customers?
Based on longevity, IBM is obviously very confident about their continuing relevance to their core customer audience.
No matter how successful the company, eventually companies will find themselves in a situation where product and customer service redesigns might be required. In many cases rebranding is also done at the same time, or to distract attention from the lack of product innovation.
A lot of energy can easily be invested in a fashionable new set of visuals, that might end up having the lifespan of a Lady Gaga outfit.
MasterCard is a brand that has made multiple adjustments to their image over the years, and seen many changes in the way their clients interact with their products. In 2010 their logo design went from two simple overlapping circles to a visually complex and cluttered design which they claimed represented a modern, worldwide market.
Put bluntly, the new design was unpopular with customers. You don’t have to be a graphic arts whiz kid to realise that the complex design would be tough to print accurately, and look like a dog’s breakfast in the small icon sizes needed for ecommerce sites. It came as no surprise that the new logo was rapidly replaced.
MasterCard’s logo has undergone very little change over 40 years. It is difficult to understand what their leadership thought they were achieving with the failed logo. They would have been better off ignoring fashion, and sticking with a good thing.
Of course many brand updates end up being successful, and the IT industry has some very high profile examples. Although sometimes you have to wonder whether a logo was changed because it needed updating, or simply because of the aesthetics of the products they adorn.
I suspect the huge visual shift in the new Windows logo will render it unrecognisable to many consumers. The brand strategy seems to match the business and product strategy – to break decisively with the past. It remains to be seen whether customers want to throw away the past, and invest in a radically changed product.