Inside / Out

by admin    March 1, 2013

There is an important distinction between designing and branding. Between a redesign and a rebrand.


You’ve probably noticed that Comcast cable has been slowly changing to Xfinity over the last several years. When Comcast changed to Xfinity, did your impressions of their organization change? Did you come away with a new perspective on who they were or why they mattered? Do you think about them differently today than you did 10 years ago?

For most of us, I think the answer is a regrettable ‘no‘. Poor customer service, bundled products, and difficulty becoming a new customer are what will undoubtedly come to most of our minds. Changing their name didn’t change their brand. It changed what we call them, but it didn’t change what we say about them.

We call this type of change a redesign. A redesign is for organizations who are not interested in redefining their message, their position, or the perceptions of their company. A redesign, like Xfinity, is for organizations who simply want to update their look & feel through design.

In contrast, a rebrand achieves a higher order of change. Branding defines an organization’s reputation. It starts with strategy. At its core, branding answers the questions who, what, and why: Who are we, what makes us different, why do we matter? Branding determines current perceptions and desired perceptions. It creates both internal and external alignment – establishing unity and understanding within an organization first and outside the organization second. A rebrand is more than just an updated look & feel.

GMAC’s change to Ally Bank was a rebrand. The change was much deeper and far reaching than a new name and logo – they created a completely different perception in the mind of their customers. The change impacted the way they talked to customers, the products they offered, and their straightforward approach to banking. It impacted their organization both internally and externally.

A brand is more than a name or a logo. A brand is the meaning and perceptions associated with those tools.

Whether you’re an organization considering a change, or a creative agency talking to your clients, the distinction between a redesign and rebrand is important. Make sure you know which one you are working on and why.

*Ally rebrand work by Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

2 thoughts on “Inside / Out”

  1. Great point. The term “rebrand” gets thrown around pretty lightly these days, but not many businesses are willing to make the deep strategic decisions that underpin successful rebrands like Ally. I wonder if the Xfinity team is looking at Google fiber’s approach right now and saying, “Hmm, that’s how we should have done it…” A quick peek at Xfinity’s website and you can see that they are still not sure what their brand represents.

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