We are currently experiencing a time of fundamental upheaval. These changes have been developing for a long time, but are being intensified in their speed and scope by the all-encompassing Corona crisis and are affecting numerous areas of our coexistence.
Take politics, for example: In liberal democracies, dissatisfaction with the functionality of the political and economic system is growing. More and more people feel disconnected and excluded from shared progress. Donald Trump's presidency was not an accident, but the result of many years of systematic dislocation - and some 70 million Trump voters in the last election show that the problem has not yet been solved with Biden's victory. In Germany and the EU, the Corona crisis first seemed to sap the populists. However, the chaos over vaccinations and testing, increasingly aimless political decision-makers, and the fatigue and exasperation after more than a year of pandemics have changed the signs: In this country, too, the political class is currently losing further credibility. At the latest, therefore, when the question arises as to who should pay the Corona bill, things could become more uncomfortable and harsh here as well - even for companies, as can be seen in the discussion surrounding the Daimler dividend payment.
Take technology, for example: digitization, artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0, the mobility revolution - technological upheavals are creating new framework conditions for business and society. Old structures are dissolving in some cases and markets are being redivided against this backdrop. In the automotive industry, for example, the German top dogs are now moving away from the combustion engine and embracing the shift toward e-mobility. BMW, for example, is making space at its headquarters in Munich for the production of electric cars, and Audi is presenting one e-tron innovation after another in line with the motto "After the premiere is before the premiere”. And VW is confidently defining itself as the new Tesla hunter - and is being rewarded for this on the stock market.
Social change is also gaining momentum at a wide variety of levels and is triggering the need for companies to adapt. Diversity, social justice, "new work," sustainability, and transparent and correct corporate governance are more than ever becoming criteria that companies must also meet in their own way - keyword ESG.
Even this brief outline shows that companies are currently confronted with a fundamental change in values and with technological and social trends on which they must take a stand. Old certainties and seemingly unshakeable beliefs are increasingly being put to the test and cleared away. And more and more companies must be prepared to fundamentally reposition themselves against this backdrop. The courage to think disruptively is the order of the day.
This has a direct impact on the development and design of brand identities. Because consequently, brands also have to sharpen themselves (brand refresh) or even redefine themselves (re-branding). The days are gone when a long-established brand could rest on its own tradition and experience: In a rapidly changing environment, "Your partner since 1880" quickly turns from a USP into a competitive disadvantage - especially when a brand offers consumers no solutions for the questions and desires of the present and future other than a thick chronicle. Brands today must also become more emotional and more approachable, because many people are increasingly making decisions on an emotional level - keyword: social media. At the same time, authenticity and substance are becoming increasingly important for the perception of brands. Company managers must therefore not only manage their performance - no, perception, i.e. the strategic management of the communication of one's own company and thus brand identity and its perception, also deserves continuous attention.
Brands, especially those that describe companies and not just products (e.g., a chocolate bar), must continuously check their positioning themselves within changing framework conditions. At the same time, it is critical to ensure brand recognition. If parts of the product portfolio are to disappear due to legal regulations - keyword combustion engines, incandescent and halogen lamps, coolants or additives - the list could be extended at will, then an updated brand can make a valuable and effective contribution to the management of the repositioning.
But what impetus can such an update actually provide? And what criteria should be taken into account? How do you set it up successfully in terms of both content and visuals? Where is the boundary between refreshment and rebranding - and which of the options is the right one when? Answers to these and many other questions will soon be presented here in more detail by two brand experts from Truffle Bay: Our Creative Director Sebastian Becker will provide insights into which design issues to consider when planning and implementing visual change. And Truffle Bay Managing Partner Sebastian May explains which content aspects and strategic considerations need to be taken into account.
In the meantime, though, I'm eager to hear your opinions first: What do you expect from a (corporate) brand today? Which factors do you think must be taken into account in a brand refreshment or re-branding? And which brands have recently undergone a successful change from your point of view?
I look forward to your feedback!
Truffle Bay is an owner-managed, integrated strategic brand consulting and design agency based in Munich. With clarity and creativity we help ambitious companies and entrepreneurs to discover, define, design and bring to life their unique identity – to create strong brands as the compass and catalyst of entrepreneurial change processes as well as attractive and differentiating brand experiences to win and retain customers and employees.
Truffle Bay is a member of bvik – Bundesverband Industrie Kommunikation e.V.