In order to address this tricky question, it is essential to work out the way customers perceive about a brand image and how elements of a brand identity effects their perception on brand image.
A brand image is basically clients’ association to that brand’s functional or emotional unique proposition. This association is shaped and guided not only by actual brand performance (client’s experience with brand’ service quality, pricing, etc.) but also by elements of brand equity.
In principle, a company can control one hundred percent on brand identity – they can design logotype, wordings, or slogan of their brand in a way they want. Of course, these brand identity components are necessarily designed to communicate brand persona. That is true that brand identity is everything the company wants the brand to be seen as. However, that is big challenge if customers perceive brand image in a way that the brand owner has originally projected it. There is no doubt that this entails many afford in brand communication – suitable tools of media, consistency of message delivered, concentration of key personalities, suitable brand positioning strategy, etc.
Personally, any change in a brand identity, to some degree, will result to a change in customers’ perception about brand image. However, the effect on existing customers is not alike to new ones.
For potential customers, they will naturally have different perceptions when exposing to to the new and old logos or listening to the new and old jingles. For existing customers who have been ingrained with certain brand association, the effect may be different. For those who have associated their favorite brand with the specific visual identity, it may take times for them to familiar with this change or in the worse case, they fall critical of any brand identity modification.
Lets take a sound sample for this point. When Starbucks dropped both its name and the word “coffee” from its 40-year-old logo, this change has sparked outrage among the coffee-chain’s most loyal coffee drinkers. According to the research findings on the role of brand commitment in consumer response to logo change (published on in the Journal of Product & Brand Management), loyal customers who fall in an emotional bond with a brand they tend to be opponent to their favorite brand’s logo change while new customers always welcome any design refinement.
In principle, any change of brand identity is correlated to a change in client’s perception on brand image. That is why it is worthwhile to take into account any change of brand ID elements.
A brand name is normally kept unchanged for lifetime unless there is a dramatic change in business mission and vision or strategic brand repositioning is required. Logos may be changed for the same reasons. Slogans may be more frequently changed, but remember that their purpose is to support a brand’s differentiation strategy, so unless that changes, there may not be a sound reason for a change.
The name Pepsi has remained as it was originally established. However, Pepsi’s logo, with some updating, has maintained its core contents. Pepsi’s slogans, on the other hand, have evolved continuously to come up with periodical needs of the market. It originated with “Cures nervousness. Relieves exhaustion” (1902), and have since included slogans like “Cost small! Liked by all! Bottle tall!” (1934), “ “More bounce to the ounce” (1953), “You’ve got a lot to live; Pepsi’s got a lot to give” (1969), “Join the Pepsi People Feeling’ Free” (1973), “Pepsi – the choice of a new generation” (1980), and “Nothing else is a Pepsi” (1995).
Nguyen Duc Son
Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates