What's the most important thing that all the most longstanding brands have in common? There are countless answers, ranging from recognition to wealth, but the real factor behind their shared success comes down to one simple but significant fact: they change. The best businesses adapt and reinvent themselves, even when their past success gives them a cushion, because they see sacrificing present comfort as the key to growth in the future. Below is a breakdown of the importance of evolution and the businesses that push the envelope and, in doing so, secure success in the long run.
McDonald's is no stranger to changing their approach. Founded in 1940, the now hegemonic fast-food chain was a restaurant and then a burger stand before the famous Golden Arches were introduced. After a change of leadership in the 1950's, with the founding brothers stepping aside, the chain exploded nationally and then internationally to become the beast you see today.
The giant has reinvented its image every decade or so based on carefully gathered feedback and market research, ensuring that their perception remains fresh among the public. This tends to include changing the logo, the store design, and all of the food packaging. Following the controversy caused by the release of Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary 'Supersize Me' in 2004, the chain has also tried to cultivate a healthier image amongst the public.
Like McDonalds, Coca Cola is another giant of the food and drink industry that sees the value in rebranding. Going all the way back to the late 19th century, the now colossal soft drink expanded from an iconic American beverage to a globally consumed product; now serving 1.8 billion beverages every day across 200 counters. In a 2020 analysis of the most recognised brands in the world, Coca Cola came sixth -- hammering home their seemingly universal reach.
Coca-Cola's strategy of adaptation comes in waves. When concerns over the companies notoriously sugar heavy product blew up in the 1980's, the brand made the clever move of releasing Diet Coke. Recent years have seen similarly successful variations of the original product with Coca-Cola Cherry, Vanilla and Coke Zero. The release of New Coke as a replacement for the classic flavour in 1985, however, was received with almost universal backlash. Despite this, the company's place at the top of the soft drink industry indicates that evolving your brand is essential to survival in an increasingly competitive world.
As a marketing agency that provides social media content creation and management services, we're not overblowing it when we say that Instagram is the most important platform currently out there when it comes to reaching people. In little over 10 years, the photo-sharing giant exploded by fitting its design to iPhone's and other mobile devices rather than to web browsers, making it the go-to social media app alongside Snapchat -- its direct competitor. Instagram was the first of the two to embrace the shift from desktop to mobile among social media platforms and, after being acquired by Facebook in 2012 and undertaking a near total rebrand in 2016, they now stand as the dominant platform.
Instagram's success, though, doesn't fully come from their enviable situation as the first platform to fully adapt to social media. Their real power comes from their decision to continually develop their brand image alongside the the growth of features that the platform offers. This has helped the platform stay on top of their growth and takes fresh approaches to ensure that it continues, which has allowed them to continue expanding among younger users while other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, struggle to keep them interested. To put it simply, Instagram used positive brand redesigns to ditch their reputation as a place for posting pictures of food and cultivate an image as the 'cool' platform.
If you travelled back in time to 2005 and told a group of 20-something year old's that Old Spice would become popular among young people, you'd be laughed at. The aftershave and deodorant company had since 1937 crafted a solid reputation as the spray that everyone's grandad uses, which didn't do a lot of good for the brand's hopes of expanding its products to younger demographics. Old Spice brought on the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy in 2010 to redefine their brand, and their ideas were game changing. The agency brought in former American Football player Isaiah Mustafa to feature in an advert that, filled with charm and humour, exploded the popularity of the brand and got people talking about it.
This original advert was followed by another 186 films which, in a similar tone to first, gathered even more attention; earning the brand 40 million views in one week and making them the most viewed brand ever on YouTube. More than this, though, the buzz surrounding these films helped Old Spice break into that golden 18-35 years old demographic that they had previously struggled to reach. Nowadays, Old Spice body washes are ranked highly for young people; and the brand is remembered fondly for the bold advertising campaign that helped them appeal to customers few would think within their reach.
It's hard to remember a time when Apple wasn't a commercial juggernaut. Since launching the iPhone in 2007, the company has positioned itself as one of the big five technology companies alongside Facebook (Meta), Google (Alphabet), Microsoft and Amazon; often touted as most valuable of them all. Things weren't always so rosy, though: the giant were dangerously uncompetitive in the computer market just a few decades ago and were on the verge of bankruptcy in 1997. How they came back from this sticky situation is a crucial lesson in how to evolve your brand and change your fortunes.
Steve Jobs, then the company's chief executive, decided that it was time to stop emulating the competition and begin marketing their products as a lifestyle choice. Framing the brand as a haven for innovation and creative thinking, Jobs began tapping into the fact that consumers were now purchasing products that both reflected and fed their self-image. Apple's new identity as a sleek brand with a suite of bold, boundary-pushing products appealed to a whole generation of consumers ready to get behind a brand that provided a message, rather than just products, that they could be loyal toward. The result is the Apple you see today, upheld by customers who won't even consider switching to a competitor. If there's one company you should look to for marketing inspiration when in a tight spot, it's this one.
What We Can Do For You
Don't for a second think that brand evolution is only important for these big dogs, though. Updating or reinventing your brand is vital if you want to stand out in a crowded market or signal to your customers, past and potential, that you're growing or expanding what you offer. Luckily for you, we offer brand design as one of our many services -- so feel free to give us a call or send an email our way if you'd like some help. You never know what a good refresh could do.