Maintaining successful brand evolution

Remember Consignia? Chances are you probably don’t. Back in January 2001, Royal Mail decided to change the name of its Group to Consignia after consulting with Dragon Brands over a two-year period, to reflect a strategic move to acquire new businesses across Europe. It was felt by Royal Mail executives at the time that the name ‘Royal Mail’ and the ‘Post Office’ were too generic to be distinct on the continent, and the word Consignia featuring the word ‘insignia’ (associated with the royal mark) would be an all-encompassing fit. The rest is history - and design folklore – as the brand would be ditched a year later, at an estimated cost of £2.5 million to rebrand and then revert back to their original logo.


Why did it go so badly wrong for Royal Mail? They ditched their entire brand identity that had stayed consistent over their 300-year history. The new identity did not reflect any change in service to the customer. Lack of focus group testing probably contributed to a feeling amongst the public of incredulity and ridicule at a corporate PR exercise that backfired.

Brand integrity is critical. And this can be achieved by being true to the original values and vision that a company establishes at the outset. Brand evolution is being receptive to changes in the marketplace, and differing customer needs, but avoiding the need to reinvent a brand every few years. This is where Google are a commendable example of brand consistency. After a brief period of experimentation, Google’s choice of using four colours for its logo has remained unchanged since October 1998. So recognizable is Google’s brand today – that the simple favicon ‘G’ is entirely interchangeable and distinctive enough on its own. It’s not inconceivable that in the next few years, Google could drop its lettering altogether from its logo – and its brand identity could be entirely pinned on its famous four colours in a simple shape.

What are the key lessons for successful brand evolution?

  1. Stay true to your values and heritage.
  2. If you are going to change, do it for the right reasons.
  3. Evolve with an identity that will last for many years.

Here at TBT, we love brands. They are the powerful voice that connects a customer to a company’s vision, values, and products and - at their best – brands create a dynamic two-way conversation that enables customers to enrich a brand’s story and impact. We can help by advising companies on where they want to take their brand next in their ongoing evolution. Let’s see if we can help. We can even offer a no-obligation brand audit. Call us today on 01373 469 270 or drop us a line at [email protected]

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