In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the depths of brand evolution. We explore what it is, famous examples of successful brand evolution, whether or not you need to rebrand, and how a brand evolves step-by-step.
Without a doubt, visual storytelling has a powerful impact on shaping a brand’s identity. One concept that continuously keeps everyone on their toes is brand evolution.
Brands must embark on a fascinating journey to adapt, grow, and remain relevant in an ever-changing market.
What Is Brand Evolution?
Brand evolution refers to a brand’s development as it adapts to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and other factors that impact its image and reputation. It is the ongoing process of managing a brand to ensure it remains relevant and resonates with its target audience.
The evolution of a brand can take many forms. It could include subtle changes to visual identity. Or, it could include major strategic shifts in the company’s messaging, product offerings, or marketing approach.
Some brands may evolve gradually over time. Others may undergo more rapid transformations in response to significant shifts in the market or other external factors.
Brand evolution aims to maintain relevance and appeal to its target audience while staying true to its core values and identity. Brand development requires a careful balance of consistency and change as brands seek to adapt to new design trends and market shifts.
If you’re wondering what the difference between rebranding and evolution is, they’re similar but quite different.
Rebranding is a complete overhaul of a brand’s identity, while brand evolution involves making strategic changes to the brand to keep it fresh and relevant.
Elements of a Brand
To fully understand what brand evolution is, it’s essential to be aware of the elements of a brand.
The elements of a brand are the building blocks that help to define its identity and distinguish it from competitors in the market.
These elements can include:
- Name: The unique name that represents the brand and helps to differentiate it from other brands.
- Logo: A visual symbol or design that represents the brand and helps to create brand recognition.
- Tagline/slogan: A short, memorable phrase that summarizes the brand’s core values and helps communicate its message.
- Personality: The set of human characteristics, values, and traits the brand embodies to connect with consumers.
- Positioning: The unique space that the brand occupies in the minds of consumers, based on its unique values and competitive positioning.
- Voice: The tone and style of communication the brand uses to convey its message to consumers.
- Colors: The brand’s specific colors used to create a visual identity and reinforce its personality and message.
- Imagery: The visual elements associated with the brand, including photography, illustrations, and other graphics.
- Packaging: The physical packaging and presentation of the brand’s products can also help create a distinctive identity and reinforce its messaging.
Together, these elements help to create a cohesive and recognizable brand identity that resonates with consumers and builds loyalty over time.
3 Examples of Successful Brand Evolution
There have been many successful brand evolutions. Notice how, in these examples, brand logos drastically evolved throughout the decades.
Apple is perhaps the most famous example of a company that evolved its brand over time.
From its early days as a computer company, Apple has expanded into new markets, including music players, smartphones, and smartwatches. Its branding had to evolve with the technological landscape that the brand itself changed.
Apple maintained a strong brand identity throughout its evolution, focusing on innovation, design, and simplicity.
Over the years, Coca-Cola has evolved its brand to stay relevant to changing consumer tastes and dietary preferences.
In 2005, the company introduced Coca-Cola Zero. And, in 2017, it introduced Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to appeal to health-conscious consumers.
Coca-Cola has also embraced digital marketing and social media to engage with customers and promote its brand.
Throughout this evolution, Coca-Cola has maintained a consistent brand identity focused on happiness, refreshment, and positivity.
McDonald’s has evolved its brand to reflect changing food preferences and market conditions.
Over the years, the company shifted its focus from traditional fast food to healthier options, including salads, smoothies, and wraps. Even more recently, McDonald’s has embraced technology, offering its customers mobile ordering and delivery options.
The simplification of their minimalist logo reflects this modernization.
Benefits of Brand Evolution
Consistent brand evolution offers several benefits to companies.
First off, it allows them to increase their relevance by staying in tune with changing consumer preferences. This practice enables brands to remain competitive and attract new customers.
Brand evolution also contributes to improved brand loyalty. If done well, it strengthens the relationship with existing customers, fosters loyalty, and encourages repeat business.
Customer loyalty comes easy for a brand if customers see that a company keeps things fresh, listens to what they want, and acts accordingly.
In addition, brand evolution helps build brand equity. This creates long-term value and provides a buffer against market fluctuations.
It can even open up expanded market opportunities. Newly attracted customers are introduced to new product lines. This builds a brand’s value ladder and expands into new geographic regions.
Lastly, a successful brand evolution enhances a company’s reputation. It attracts new customers, partners, and investors who align with the company’s evolved brand identity.
Should You Rebrand? Or Should You Just Evolve Your Branding?
Here are some situations when a company might consider evolving its brand:
- Changes in consumer preferences: If a company’s target audience has changed or its tastes have evolved, it may need to develop its brand to remain relevant.
- Expanding product lines: If a company introduces new products or expands into new markets, it may need to evolve its brand to reflect these changes.
- Changes in the competitive landscape: If a company’s competitors have changed their branding or marketing strategies, it may need to evolve its brand to stay competitive.
- Stagnant growth: If a company’s growth has stagnated or declined, it may need to evolve its brand to re-engage with customers and drive growth.
- Changes in technology: If new technologies or digital marketing channels have disrupted a company’s industry, it may need to evolve its brand to stay relevant and competitive.
- Cultural shifts: If significant cultural shifts or social movements are relevant to a company’s industry or audience, it may need to evolve its brand to reflect these changes.
Please note: It’s important to conduct thorough research and seek stakeholder input before embarking on a brand evolution effort. This will ensure it is the right decision for the company.
Complete Brand Evolution: Step-By-Step
Brand evolution is a complex process that involves multiple steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to successfully evolve your brand:
Step 1: Conduct Research
The first step in brand evolution is understanding the brand’s current state, the market, and the target audience.
Review the following:
- Brand assets: Logo, visual identity, packaging, website design, and marketing materials
- Market trends: Monitor consumer behavior, technology advancements, societal changes, and industry forecasts
- Customer feedback: Conduct surveys, interviews, and listen to social media
Step 2: Define Brand Objectives
Once research is complete, it’s time to define the brand evolution objectives. Identify the purpose of your brand evolution and the desired outcomes.
These can include:
- Increased market share
- Brand loyalty
- Differentiation from competitors
Step 3: Develop a Branding Strategy
Developing a brand strategy is based on the first two steps. Research and reach objectives. Strategize the following brand elements:
- Brand positioning: The unique space and perception that a brand occupies in the minds of its target audience, differentiating it from competitors.
- Personality: The set of human characteristics, brand values, and traits that a brand embodies, creating a relatable and distinctive identity.
- Tone of voice: The consistent style, language, and manner of communication a brand uses to convey its personality and connect with its audience.
- Visual identity: The visual elements, such as logos, color palettes, typography, and imagery. These collectively represent a brand and create visual recognition and consistency.
Step 4: Refine the Brand Identity
The next step is to refine the brand identity to reflect the new brand strategy. Refining your brand identity involves updating the brand’s visual elements, such as the logo, color palette, typography, and imagery, to align with the brand strategy.
For example, consider if the logo needs refinement or a complete redesign. It should accurately reflect the brand’s personality, values, and positioning while remaining visually appealing and memorable.
Create a mood board to lay out all of this information in a visual way.
If your brand needs a complete logo redesign, consider whether you will make it from scratch or if you want to use a logo generator. If you’re dealing with “creative block,” consider using a free AI image generator to come up with ideas.
Step 5: Enhance Brand Messaging
Brand messaging includes creating key messages, taglines, and brand stories that reflect the unique brand personality and positioning.
Write, edit, and craft exactly what you want your brand to communicate through copy. Include your unique offerings, services, positioning, and personality.
Step 6: Launch Your New Brand Identity
At this stage, ensure that your new brand identity is implemented across all touchpoints. These include:
- The website
- Social media channels
- And other marketing channels
It’s important to note that brand evolution is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement, monitoring, and refinement.
A brand should regularly evaluate itself. This process ensures that the brand is aligned with a company’s goals and remains relevant to the target audience.
Ensure you have everything you need for your new brand strategy by using Shutterstock’s Small Business Brand Kit: