Re brands and context

The resent Aldi re brand has lead me to write a piece about change and audience relevance, and how having a broader understanding on how brands relate to customers, in the process struggle of brand change, the important core is often replaced with fear induced waste.

Re brands all have their own boundaries, and it is understanding these that makes them stagnate, grow or shine. Take the recent Co-op retail brand, although I or Garden didn’t do it, I have to say that it is by far one of the best re brands I have seen for a long time. Its fresh view with its relationship with the customer is insightful, it elegantly manages to use its past – a ’touch’ of retro, with the future, through simplicity and colour. What this re brand manages to do is bridge its heritage with the future, it manages to retain its past loyal customer and grow its younger more progressive future customer. 

All too often, no actually I would say almost always, the design process and client side fear stifle re brands. But it needn’t be that way, it’s all about context and relevance. For example, Mars has a loyal customer base, people know it, they know what to expect, and any change needs to understand the level of recognition that needs to stay, any sudden change in this would far out-way any rebrand benefit. But with high street supermarket brands, people don’t purchase on impulse, they don’t reach out their hand on autopilot and grab a Mars, they shop because of location, price, brand loyalty. Therefore the visual identity of a brand in these circumstances needs to reflect what the brand promises to offer. 

So, in the case of the Aldi re brand, in my ‘humble’ opinion, they have missed an opportunity, they have almost religiously it seems, tried to stay loyal to its past, but simply modernise the font and forms, and yet the customer wont care about this, but what they could have done is create a brand that sheds some of the things that dated the old brand, shifted into a new and exciting space, and still captured the spirit of the original brand – like the Co-ops retail brand has managed to do. Imagine the Aldi symbol, simplified, cleaned up, similar but fresher colour palette – much nicer!

At the end of the day, it is all about context, and as I said earlier, understanding this context is vital, as it allows you to see very easily how far you can go, what you need to hold on to, and how much a customer is willing to accept. Get this right and you can create benchmark world leading brands, get it wrong and you run the risk of costly mistakes. I suppose an analogy would be, if you are going to play poker, it helps if you can count cards, if you can’t count cards, play a safe hand and you ‘may’ walk away with the same money you started with, the trick though, is to count cards.

Of course re brands go much further than just the logo, let’s hope that the brand application shines more than the logo.