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How to Make Your Brand Refresh Successful

October 5, 2021
Ben Rossell
Pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and let’s talk about how you can make your next branding project sparkle like Chandon. (Hint: it’s not all about the logo.)  

Don’t judge a wine by its bottle

On the surface, the Chandon brand refresh looks very basic, but it has been praised and surprisingly well-received within the design community.

On the well-known brand identity blog “Brand New,” the majority of voters said the project was “great” and fewer than 10% responded negatively to the project. Since rebranding and brand refresh projects are so often plagued by poor reception, those are fairly successful numbers.

On top of that, the Chandon brand refresh was listed as one of the top five branding projects of the month by Flux, a top ranked YouTube channel for designers.

This indicates that people are not merely accepting this rebrand but praising it for its ingenuity and inspirational design. Is this an example of group think? Or, are there important brand design principles hidden in this project for us to uncover?

I agree that Chandon is a successful brand refresh; read on to learn why.  

A logo does not a brand make (the full brand identity)

When talking about branding projects, people often focus in on the logo. For many people, logo and brand are virtually synonymous terms. But a logo is only one part (and not even the most significant part) of a brand. The agency that designed the Chandon logo viewed the brand as larger than just the logo; They understood that it includes the whole package: logo, visual identity, personality, voice, positioning, and culture.

With this understanding, they were able to, in the words of Matt Brunton from Flux,”[do] enough with the project to justify the rebrand.” While the wordmark remained largely untouched, the visual identity, personality, and positioning of the brand were radically adapted in this project. These changes, not the changes to the logo itself, are the real heroes of the identity.

A word to the wise (a logo’s purpose)

In the Chandon brand refresh, the branding agency demonstrated that they understand the purpose of a logo. A logo isn’t about narration but recognition. It’s not meant to tell the whole story of a company jammed into one complicated icon; it is a simple reminder (a word) to those who already know the company (the wise).

A logo is a lot like a face. Sure, you can make some assumptions about people based on their facial features, but you’re as often wrong as right. A face is virtually meaningless to a stranger, but a powerful schema for a friend. When seeing a friend’s face, many things come to mind—their personality, your experiences together, affection, loyalty. In the same way, a logo is a simple on switch that brings a flood of experiences and emotions to mind.  

While it may be tempting to insert into a logo iconography or graphic elements that indicate the industry in which the company resides, it is often unnecessary, elementary, and expected. In the words of designer David Airey: “A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better. The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an airplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer. Etc.” The most important thing to communicate about a brand isn’t what industry it’s in, but how it is viewed in the industry.

Whatever you are, be a good one (The power of intentionality)

For the general public, showing intentionality is persuasive enough to prompt acceptance. Consumers don’t have to understand the logic behind a decision to buy into it. We don’t have to understand how a computer works in order to use it; nor do we have to understand the meaning of modern art to appreciate it. A common significant fear in life is valuing something that proves to not be valuable. The attention to detail in the Chandon brand alleviates our concerns of a lazy or thoughtless designer, and reveals a thorough, time-intensive, and considerate process. This is a comfort to us and frees us to like the branding without fear of disappointment and reproach.  

It you can’t make it good, at least make it look good (it’s all in the presentation)

We’ve all seen those Insta-perfect verses reality comparisons, right? In the first image, a model looks beautiful and flawless, in the next, earth-shatteringly normal. What’s the difference? In the first image, the model uses the optimum pose, camera angle, lighting, and composition to highlight all his or her best features; in the second, no thought is given to any of those things. The person stays the same, but the way that person is presented changes. A model in a pitch-black room won’t look good no matter how many photos you take.

In the same way, the best brand won’t be well received without being properly packaged; and even mediocre branding will be well received, at least initially, if thoughtfully presented. The brand materials (logo and creative assets) only represent the first half of the project. The other half revolves around presenting it in a way that highlights all its best features.

The unveiling of the Chandon brand was accompanied by a slew of executions (bottle designs, advertising campaigns, signage examples, social posts, videos, and product photography.) The photography is top notch, the campaigns are visually consistent, and the personality is vibrant and fun. This packaging by Made Thought elevates the logo and brand elements, and it helps to ensure a better reception from Chandon and the public.

Never skimp on the presentation.  

A little goes a long way (don’t change too much at a time)

The temptation on a rebrand project is to make something radical and new, but a wise designer shows restraint. Because the purpose of a logo is recognition, making drastic changes (even if the design is more attractive and on strategy) makes a logo less potent at its primary function. The better decision is to make smaller, more incremental changes. If a logo is not a perfectly accurate representation of a company, that’s okay. The other brand elements can go a long way in shifting that perception. In addition to maintaining your hard-earned recognition, subtle logo changes will also face much less backlash from interested parties. So, refresh your logos conservatively.

The Chandon logo, while certainly more modern, is only a slight deviation from its previous version. While potentially a hard sell for Made Thought to make to Chandon, it is a wise and time-tested approach.

Brand refreshes are tricky. Interested in refreshing your brand, but don’t want to waste time or money? Let’s chat and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction.