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Why a new brand is seldom love at first sight, and what to do about it

Jon Persson
Jon Persson
Brand identity designer

You’re excited.

The rebranding project you’ve been working on for the past quarter is finally about to be rolled out to the public.

With great anticipation you hit ‘Publish’ on the post announcing the change on your company blog.

The Twitter notifications start to roll in.

Wait— what’s this? They were supposed to like it!

People love to hate. That’s why most highly publicized rebrands are subject to ridicule and mean-spirited criticism.

Slack is the most recent victim of this phenomenon.

Every trendy tech team uses Slack, and now they’re looking to expand into new markets. So they enlisted a world-renowned brand agency to create a visual identity that can appeal to large enterprise customers.

Basically, they’re a start-up that’s ready to grow-up.

Problem: as soon as they rolled out the new identity, many of their existing customers said they hated it.

They did so without knowing what motivated the change to begin with, and what Slack’s goals were.

For most people, change takes time to get used to—even when it’s actually change for the better.

That’s why a logotype is very seldom love at first sight.

It’s also why I advise against outsourcing big decisions to other people (whether they be family, employees, or customers).

If you’re wondering what you should base your decisions on instead of customer feedback, the answer is this: strategy and vision.

Rebranding requires courage and leadership.

But it also requires change management.

Rather than just roll out the new identity without fore-warning, Slack should have pre-empted the criticism by preparing its customers for it well in advance.

Slack should have explained to their customers why the changes were necessary as well as how the changes will affect their relationship to the company (most likely, not at all).

They should have hyped the coming changes on social media to drive more attention to their explanations and increase understanding and buy-in among their customers.

That’s how you get your customers invested in the success of your company.

That’s what made Apple under Steve Jobs so different from Apple under Tim Cook: Jobs shared his vision and strategy with the rest of the world. Cook leaves people guessing.

Don’t leave people guessing.

Jon Persson
Founder, CultMethod

Jon Persson
Written by

Jon Persson

Brand strategist, identity designer, and founder of CultMethod. I help solopreneurs create brands that attract customers and command premium prices.
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