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18 Oct 2016

Time for a Logo Makeover? Make it a Hit!

Caroline Cuny et Marianela Fornerino

 A logo represents a brand’s image. It highlights its values and market position. Changing your logo can be a delicate transition. How can you ensure a smooth change? In January 2014, Grenoble Ecole de Management unveiled its new logo. Caroline Cuny and Marianela Fornerino, professors at Grenoble Ecole de Management, and Julien Grobert, a lecturer at IAE Toulouse, studied the process of acceptance for the school’s new logo over the past three years. The results of their study bring to light several factors that help ensure a smooth transition.

Caroline Cuny and Marianela Fornerino

Grenoble Ecole de Management

In 2014, Grenoble Ecole de Management made a radical decision to leave behind its symbolic dolphin, which is a reference to the local region. The new logo was designed to convey the school’s position at a Top 20 business school in Europe. In May of 2016, the school continued this communication strategy by launching a wide-scale campaign to position the school as a reference both in France and abroad in terms of the management of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. The campaign also aims to reaffirm the school’s unique approach to teaching and creating an impact on business and society.

Resisting change is only natural

“Human resistance to change is a well documented fact even though it might present itself differently depending on the individual. In this case, resistance was based on our familiarity and affection for the brand. The more someone is familiar with the brand, the more a new logo can have an surprisingly negative impact.  As a result, you have to anticipate how the new logo will be perceived in relation to the brand’s image.” explains Caroline Cuny. As with other companies, Grenoble Ecole de Management’s most loyal clients demonstrated the strongest attachment to the old logo.

Anticipating reactions to a new logo

To help overcome the gap between a new logo and a brand’s image, the best solution is to involve clients in the process. The goal is to limit unexpected reactions from already loyal clients. The marketing department can help close this gap by communicating on the change before it happens. You have to explain what will change and why.

Another solution can be to test a new logo with a sampling of brand stakeholders. In such a case, it can be useful to rely on widespread social network communications. By mobilizing the target audience, you can invite them to be involved in the creation process. This is a great way to minimize any negative surprises when you officially launch a logo.

Studies confirm a new logo that matches the brand

The three researchers carried out a long term study to examine how the new logo matches the values communicated by the school. The first tests were done in June 2014, six months after the launch of the new logo. They tested the logo on newly admitted students with little attachment to the brand and last-year students more familiar with the brand. These first results indicated little connection between the new logo and the brand’s values. However, testing continued into 2016 and overtime the connection between logo and values has been confirmed.

Logos that missed the mark!

Even the most prestigious companies have had to deal with strong resistance to change. In every case, the common factor has been a lack of communication and explanation before the change. For example, GAP decided to radically change its logo in 2010. But the company had to make a quick U-turn seven days later given the aggressive reactions by customers. The brand had not anticipated or explained the reasons behind this change. Both Apple and Starbucks faced strong resistance to change when they introduced new logos. Instead of back peddling, the two brands decided to carry out important communications campaigns to explains the reasons for the change.

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