Brand Evolution

You've got your brand and decided what fits and what doesn't fit. Is it time for brand evolution or staying the course?

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You’ve got your tagline; you know what your brand position stands for, and you’ve taken a hard look at your business to see what fits and what doesn’t fit. (If you haven’t it’s OK, you can catch up here.) So now comes the BIG QUESTION — do you update/change your logo and business name or do you work with what you’ve got? Is it time for brand evolution or staying the course?

Almost unfailingly, an advertising agency will tell you that you just must create a brand new name and logo and put it on all of your collateral immediately. Of course, they are willing to help you do just that, out of the kindness of their heart–and your checkbook. But here’s the secret no one is willing to discuss, not all names and logos have to be discarded and replaced. In fact, in the majority of the cases, this is a costly endeavor that will eliminate any goodwill, top-of-mind awareness, and market position you have already built up in your community. To replace them is to walk away from every penny of advertising, community work, customer service, and relationship building you’ve ever done. Not necessarily a wise investment.

brand evolutionNow it’s true; sometimes they have to be changed. When you have the misfortune to have ruined your image, if you merge, buy out another company, or are purchased straight out; it’s time to replace your name and logo. But if those things haven’t happened — it’s not time! Changing your name and/or logo is an exercise in self-indulgence, not a practical, cost-effective business move.

If your business has been around any length of time, you have an unquantifiable (but SIGNIFICANT) amount of money tied up in your name and existing logo. Think about it like this, if you were to embark on changing your name and logo, what all would you have to update and replace: signage, stationary, business cards, advertising, pens, checks, shirts, hats, giveaways, not to mention vendor accounts, customer accounts, and licensing. It is a monumental undertaking. It can be extremely expensive in hard costs alone, not to mention the time and energy you’re going to have to spend to make it happen. And we haven’t even considered the loss of name and logo recognition, top-of-mind awareness, and market position in your community in that expense.

Consider Brand Evolution

So here’s my advice: do not change your name if you can avoid it and don’t change your logo. I know after a while logos get dated and go out of style, or we simply get tired of them. But the secret of a great brand is to evolve the logo, not replace it. (You can see some logo evolutions for great brands here.)

This is where small businesses tend to make a critical error. After all, the marketing agency, staff, friends, and your boss are often adamant that you need to design a new logo. Trust me when I tell you, the marketing agency is going to throw every argument they can think of at you to convince you that you need a brand new logo. Why? It’s simple economics and bragging rights. There is nothing better to be able to put into their portfolio than a complete re-brand. Re-brands often include logo and name and it is easier for them to create a brand for you from the ground up. Incidentally, it pays the bills for them quite well too.

But My Logo is Outdated!

So what’s a business owner to do, especially if your logo is outdated? I have to warn you; it’s easier said than done. Insist, repeatedly, to yourself, to your staff, and to your boss that you want an evolution of your logo. You’re looking for something that you can use simultaneously with your current logo. For instance, evolving a logo might mean updating the colors. It might also include eliminating non-important focal points to focus on what’s important. If you hold the new logo up next the old one, they should look similar and identifiably you. You’re going to have to be strong on this; no one else is going to be in your camp. But here’s why it’s in your best interest:

  1. It’s going to save you money in the short and long run in both hard and soft costs.
  2. You will retain your name and logo recognition, therefore your goodwill, market position, and top-of-mind awareness.
  3. Every dollar you’ve ever spent on marketing will continue to work for you. Every relationship you’ve ever built will continue smoothly.
  4. You can choose how quickly it gets rolled out.

An evolved logo doesn’t have to be everywhere at the same time; it can be put on items as they naturally come up for reprint, or wear out. It’s cost efficient and money conscious, something every small or medium sized business needs to be aware of. Evolve, don’t replace.


Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

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