We Rebranded! No, You Just Unveiled a New Logo

Of all the common misconceptions about branding, the most prevalent is the notion that your logo is your brand.

A few years back, a friend of mine who pastors a church in Virginia came to me and proudly announced, “We’re rebranding!”

“Oh, yeah?” I replied.

“Yeah! Wait until I show you the new logo concepts. I think you’ll really like them.”

The logo update came and went, and while my friend’s church had a new sign out front and a new avatar on Instagram, they continued doing what they had always done. Aside from a few compliments on the logo, audience perception of the church did not change. Was this a rebrand? Or just the unveiling of a new logo?

Your logo is not your brand. Your logo is merely one expression of your brand. Why does this distinction matter?

Image result for you keep using that word gif

As long as you continue to think of your logo (or any visual, for that matter) as your brand, you will miss your greatest opportunities for influence. You will hire a designer, print some t-shirts, make some snazzy new business cards, and then after a year wonder why things haven’t changed and business (or membership, or attendance, or whatever you seek) hasn’t grown.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember, your brand is the gut-level feeling that others have of you or your organization. Additionally, your brand is integrally connected to who you really are. This is why branding efforts that attempt to be something you’re not are ultimately doomed for failure, even if they produce momentary success (Fyre Festival, anyone?).

Image result for fyre festival gif

So a “rebrand” is a series of efforts to change that gut-level feeling in people by changing something about who you really are. A true rebrand by an organization involves a change in mission, a change in service offerings, or a change in a fundamental way of doing things. This change is often accompanied by a creative marketing and communications effort to tell the world about the new you (and this is where Colour Outside comes in).

If you update your logo, but don’t change anything else at a deeper level, you haven’t rebranded. You just unveiled a new logo.


Think of this in human terms. If a friend of yours who is fun, witty, spontaneous, and blunt gets a new haircut and starts wearing a different style of clothes, she hasn’t really changed your perception of her. Sure, you might consider her a bit more modern, but ultimately she’s the same person to you.

If this friend, however, begins to act serious, becomes more planned and calculated, and is more cautious with her words, you will start to think of her differently. And when she pairs this with her new outfit, you truly perceive her as a changed person.

A logo update is the equivalent of a new outfit for a brand—same person, new look. Brands that have unveiled new logos in recent years (but haven’t rebranded) include Google, Bank of America, and Pepsi. No ostensible change in mission, service offerings, or fundamental way of doing things has occurred. Same organizations, new looks.

Brands that have truly rebranded in the public eye include Chobani, McDonald’s, and Porsche. Chobani has introduced fun and whimsy into their way of doing things. McDonald’s, albeit by a Super Size Me twist of the arm, has begun to change its menu offerings to give customers fresher options. Porsche entered the SUV market despite its ironclad perception as a sports car manufacturer. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this short list is that while all three of these companies have undertaken rebranding efforts, only one (Chobani) has changed their logo to support those efforts. Different organizations, and in only some cases, new looks.

If you look at those two lists of names, it becomes self-evident who has truly “rebranded.” Which of those six companies have you changed your perception of in the past 5-10 years? It’s likely the former three have maintained a pretty consistent place in your gut-level perception, and the latter three have changed a bit (for better or worse).

This is not to say logo changes alone are pointless. Your organization may have a solid brand reputation and you just want to update your old logo to reflect the modern excellence represented by your core business. We’ve helped many clients (e.g. Cornerstone Wealth, Pachacea, etc.) with logo identity development, absent broader branding efforts.

But the more you understand that your brand is about every part of the experience you deliver (and not just your look), the more you will capitalize on truly meaningful points of influence, and the more you will grow your business. And that’s precisely what Colour Outside is here to help you do.

Whether you are looking for a logo update alone, or are looking to comprehensively rebrand, Colour Outside can help. Contact us today to talk to an expert. Or just drop in to deliver some Chobani. We’ll love you forever.

Justin Schoonmaker

Like what you read?