Why bother re-branding anyway?
What do you think of the new ITV identity? Perhaps you don’t think very much at all. Most of us will be aware of it without having formed any strong opinion or experienced any particular reaction to it. Which takes me to my point: why bother with such exercises in the first place? What is the objective of such design, what’s the intended return on investment of money and effort? Typically, it might be seen as a catalyst for a shift in perception or behaviour. But to get this result, a re-brand needs to be more than skin deep.
The explanation offered to Creative Review in a very good piece on it was as follows: ‘Our ambition is to turn ITV Creative into a respected, award-winning commercial agency, starting with our own on-air content.’ Well, the new design looks pretty jolly, as befits a pretty jolly and unpretentious brand, and the way the logo colour co-ordinates with various programmes is an interesting piece of chameleon design…
It has more personality than the previous design (could you even confidently draw the old one now that it’s gone, despite having seen it thousands of times?). All in all, it’s a bit more ‘with it’. Do you think that’s enough? It strikes me as a cosmetic exercise and like any ‘surface’ improvements, this gives it a finite shelf life. Consider the identity of, say, CBS. It had a legendary design director and for decades the memorable mark never changed, yet proved to be fantastically flexible and capable of transcending fashion. That seems like the kind of brief any major re-brand should be tasking itself with, if it wants to really make a difference and build stature and recognition. But to do this, one has to start with an idea or a ‘point’, not a sense of style.
Meanwhile, Nivea have not so much re-branded as re-focussed on its ‘classic’ roundel in a more universal way. There has been a bit of carping about the kerning but the way the new device has been locked to the structure of the packaging makes this a distinctive and far from cosmetic exercise. The brand and the brand in the hand now have a stronger relationship and the simplicity of the solution has a certain charisma and gravitas.
Any new identity job is by its nature a complicated exercise with myriad elements to tie together. But I think Nivea offers a good example of joining up the dots, all to its credit. The last thing any brand refresh should be is just nicer looking.