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Top 11 rebrands of 2018

January 3, 2019 / Reading Time: 6 minutes /
Rhian Cox
Head of Creative

In 2018 we saw no end of global companies rebrand, but why?

A willingness to change

Okay, for a second, imagine you’re wearing your favourite outfit. That one outfit that when you walk into a room you “feel like a million bucks”. It gives you confidence, you look amazing and people ask where you bought it from. When you’re wearing this outfit you feel the best you’ve ever felt: you may as well be wearing a jewel-encrusted crown.

Now ask yourself, if this outfit makes me feel so good, why don’t I wear it every day for the rest of my life? There’s more than one answer for this and although they’re obvious, they’re definitely worth thinking about:

This is hard to accept – you’re a leader, the one everyone is looking at to base their identity off. But if you’re going to continue to be successful, you need to accept, own it and be willing to change.

Okay, so why is this relevant? Well, the outfit you hold so dearly is your brand, it’s your identity. So although it’s been really successful, it may be time to change. If there’s one thing you take away from this, please let it be this:

you’re not rebranding for you. Your rebrand is for your clients and customers, to assure them that you’re willing to change as they change, to constantly meet and exceed their needs.

The best rebrands of 2018

Over 2018, many companies have rebranded to align themselves with their current market and their ever changing customers. We have handpicked 11 iconic rebrands of 2018 and delved into why they are so groundbreaking. Why 11? Because 10 is a nice, even, whole number, and it’s time we get out of our comfort zones and embrace change.

1 & 2) John Lewis & Waitrose

Previously branded as two separate companies, John Lewis and Waitrose rebranded themselves as “John Lewis & Partners” and “Waitrose & Partners”, which sit beneath the umbrella brand “John Lewis Partnership”. Why? To reposition themselves within the market as an “employee owned” business – referencing that all of their employees are effectively co-owners due to holding stocks and shares within it.

The company worked with their design agency for three years on this rebrand and went public in  September 2018. All three brands rely on a typographical identity and a line based graphical device, inspired by the brand’s history and legacy.

3) Debenhams

Coincidentally in September last year, Debenhams launched its new brand identity and marketing campaign “do a bit of Debenhams”. The purpose? “To reclaim the joys of shopping”. The logo itself combines the brand’s 200-year classicism with its modern-day playfulness, combining both serif and sans-serif type forms, yet not straying too far away from its predecessor.

The main purpose of this rebrand was to signal the physical change of Debenhams’ high street approach to customer experience and quality of the product.

4) Uber

Uber is a name, that if we turned back time three years, not many people would know who they are. But now everyone and their nan rely on Uber to whiz them around town, replacing their usual taxi or bus journeys. Why? Convenience, my friend.

In September 2018, Uber’s new identity shook the design world: it was bold, impactful, game-changing. Since launch, Uber has rebranded twice, and people fed back: they love the black/white colours, they miss the loss of the “U” symbol, but they liked how the logo said the name. So quite simply, Uber took what their customers wanted and created a brand that ticked all boxes:

  1. Let in the light but embrace the black.
  2. Invest in a wordmark but bring back the U symbol.

The company rely on their letter U shape to frame their marketing materials and use a typographical logo in their own custom font “Uber Move” to assure that their brand is instantly recognisable. Check out their case study all about their rebrand.

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5 & 6) American Express & Santander

Before you ask, no they’re not the same company, but we’ve grouped them together because it’s important to see how companies are rebranding within their markets. In 2018, both American Express and Santander rebranded to assure their identities appealed to the current market, embracing a simple and minimalistic approach without straying too far away from their current look.

Santander’s new logo escapes the box its predecessor sat inside and reflects the transparency of its values: simple, personal, fair. Similarly, American Express’ new identity has three forms: two of which sit inside a box and one that doesn’t – exploring new avenues to appeal to new customers whilst staying iconic to avoid alienating it’s current and previous ones.

7) Dunkin’ Donuts

Okay, so they may be massive across the pond and not so huge in the UK but this rebrand was probably the BRAVEST of them all in 2018. Why? Because it’s no longer just about doughnuts. In September (yes, September again!) 2018, American owned, Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded as Dunkin’.

Dunkin’ are putting themselves back on the map and going up against the likes of Starbucks and Costa, identifying as a coffee and doughnuts cafe. The colours, typography and brand approach will remain the same as the new identity is pushed out later this month.

8, 9 & 10) Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and Balmain (and many more high-end fashion brands)

2018 seemed to be the year of stripping down brand identities to simple and minimal forms. People like convenience, and because people like convenience, over the past 10 years the percentage of people shopping online, as opposed to the high street, has risen from 22% to 79%. Due to this, people within the industry seem to believe that conformity is the key to survival on the high street, the brands have re-identified so they’re just as appealing as each other.

Another opinion to consider is that of designers. We believe this has happened due to the constant need for accessibility in digital design. Accessibility is a huge pressing factor in digital design and focuses on making user experiences and readability as easy as possible. Instagram is the main platform for digital fashion advertising and designers are saying that logos are being simplified to fit into small spaces such as within Instagram posts and thumbnails.

This case is important, very important. Unlike all the previous examples, these brands haven’t rebranded to suit their individual customers’ needs, but instead the entire market’s.

11) Mailchimp

Okay, this one caused a stir amongst the design community, all because people don’t like change, but trust me – this one is a grower! The more you think about it and learn about it, the more you love it.

The Mailchimp rebrand simplifies it’s “Freddie the chimp” logo and adds child-like illustrations throughout its identity – the type of illustration that makes you think “well, anyone could’ve done that!”. Well, maybe that’s the point. Mailchimp is a great tool and is very simple to use, maybe we should consider that their rebrand is trying to illustrate this.

Mailchimp claims that when other brands would hide their “peculiarities and idiosyncrasies”, they are all about amplifying these traits in order to stand out and connect with the world around them.

Is it time to embrace change?

As we have learnt from the cases above, there are many reasons to rebrand. Whether it’s to stand out amongst your competitors like Dunkin’ or maybe quite the opposite like Burberry; maybe it’s to celebrate heritage and history like Debenhams or to embrace where you are now like John Lewis.

If you’re considering even thinking about a rebrand ask yourself this one question:

Does my current brand align with my customers’ needs?

If your answer is no, or even “I’m really not sure”, then we can help with that. Let’s have a chat.

See how we helped telecommunications company, Call Miss Jones rebrand and reposition themselves within their market as Orca.

Alternatively, you can find out more about our branding service.

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