What is Brand Evolution and How to Do It Right

What is Brand Evolution and How to Do It Right

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For many small businesses like yours, the key to growth, longevity, and market dominance is the ability to evolve.

This is because what works today may not work tomorrow, as market dynamics, consumers’ needs, and preferences constantly change.

If you want your small business to remain relevant to your target audience,  smooth and consistent brand evolution is not just critical, but essential.

In this post, I will cover some essential brand evolution insights to help you understand brand evolution:

  • The concept of brand evolution is explained in detail.
  • Why and how evolving your brand might be the best strategic decision for your small business.
  • Some brand evolution examples that wowed the world.
  • The processes involved in evolving your brand.
  • Difference between rebranding and brand evolution.
  • Brand evolution tips.

What is brand evolution?

Brand evolution is developing and changing a brand over time in line with consumer preferences, market conditions, and business goals.

There can be many examples of brand evolution, like slightly tweaking a brand’s visual identity to completely overhauling its core values, products, or services.

The main objective of brand evolution is to strengthen a brand’s connection with its target audience, increase its relevance, and give the brand a competitive advantage.

Benefits of brand evolution

So what exactly do you gain from continuously evolving your brand as a small business owner?

The benefits of successful brand evolution are phenomenal, especially if you want to build a timeless brand like that of Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Burberry, etc.

Here are just a few of what your business will benefit from evolving to meet changing customer needs.

1. Maintained relevance

There is something Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Levi’s, and other top timeless brands have in common – they have maintained relevance over the years. Maintaining brand relevance comes from understanding changing customer needs and preferences and evolving to meet them.

By evolving your brand, you can adapt to changing trends, technologies, and customer needs. This can help you to stay relevant to your target audience, ensuring that your brand remains appealing and useful.

Customers align with brands that understand their needs, take their side on social or political issues, and continuously deliver on their promise of effective customer experience. Click To Tweet

2. More differentiation

Brand evolution can help you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and create a unique identity.

Updating your brand’s look, messaging, and values can change people’s perceptions of your company. By communicating that you are modern, innovative, and forward-thinking, you can improve your brand’s overall image.

This can help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace and attract more customers.

3. Enhanced brand loyalty

Customers will not think twice before leaving a brand that does not meet their needs and preferences. In fact, customers are 2X more likely to buy first, stay loyal, and advocate for brands they trust.

That in itself is a huge reason why you should definitely evolve your brand over a period of time to deliver what your customers need, to keep your customers keep coming back to you.

4. New market opportunities

Brand evolution can help you to appeal to new audiences and expand your reach.

Most brands launch with a single product, service, and/or messaging.

However, as the brand evolves, it will expand its products, services, and/or messaging.

Brands like Apple, Google, PayPal, and Abercrombie & Fitch are good examples of brands that started with a single product and evolved.

Apple, for instance, started as a computer manufacturing company and later diversified into phones, electronics, watches, etc.

In fact, Apple, which was founded in 1976, did not make its first phone until 2007. Today, Apple is one of the best luxury phone manufacturers in the world, with a global mobile market share of 24.1%.

5. Unified brand experience

Sometimes, brands lose focus of their identity as they evolve and add additional products and services. This can cause branding inconsistencies, rough customer journeys, inefficient business processes, and a loss of customers.

Successful brand evolution brings uniformity to your brand’s identity, business model, products, and services. It ensures your brand maintains consistency across channels, including visual designs, texts, colors, etc.


Brand evolution examples

Many business owners think brand evolution is about logo design or color changes.

It is beyond that.

The evolution of a brand can take different shapes, from updating visual identity to changing messaging to appeal to a new generation of customers or a larger or more defined customer base.

Many brands have revamped their logos, added new products or services, and changed their color or messaging to respond to changes in consumer preferences and behaviors.

Here are some brand evolution examples to inspire you:

Instagram’s logo redesign

A brand is much more than a logo.

That being said, a logo redesign is one of the first things that comes to mind about brand evolution. It is an excellent way for brands to communicate minor brand changes to their target customers.

One of the best examples of brand evolution in terms of logos or visual identities is Instagram.

Instagram has been known for its iconic camera image logo, with minor changes to meet customers’ visual appeal.

However, in 2016, Instagram updated its logo to a more modern design with a simplified camera outline and bright, gradient colors.

Brand Evolution Examples - Instagram logo change

Despite the numerous logo changes, Instagram has maintained its brand identity and competitive positioning as a visually-driven social media platform that encourages self-expression, creativity, and community building.

It is important to maintain your core brand value proposition no matter how much your brand's visual identity evolves over time. Click To Tweet

Burberry’s brand color change

Burberry shows us another typical example of how brands evolve.

Burberry was initially known for its iconic check pattern but has undergone several brand color changes as time and purpose demanded.

In the early 2000s, Burberry’s products had countless counterfeits, prompting the British luxury fashion brand to undergo a series of brand evolution processes.

In 2018, Burberry introduced a new, modernized logo and changed its brand colors from beige to a brighter, more vibrant blue.

Brand Evolution Examples - Burberry color change

Apple’s product diversification

Product and service diversification are other example of brand evolution.

Apple started as a computer company producing personal computers that are small, convenient to use, and inexpensive.

But over time, Apple evolved from just a computer manufacturing company to a consumer electronics company with products such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Coca-Cola’s shift in messaging

If the brand values remain unchanged, a company can change its messaging to communicate better. Changing brand messaging is a brand identity evolution technique smart businesses use to stay relevant to their target audience while breaking into new markets.

This is evident in how Coca-Cola has evolved from a brand that focuses on the product to one that focuses on the customers’ emotions and experiences.

Initially, their messaging centered on marketing Coke as a medicinal drink.

Coca-Cola brand evolution example

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

But today, Coke is marketed as something more than soda.

With Coca-Cola’s messaging, a Coke translates to just one thing – happiness.

Sharing a bottle of Coke with someone means sharing happiness and extending a hand of friendship.

CocaCola Ad positioning the drink as a drink for happiness
Source: Peter Phan.

If you are curious about how these brands evolved their businesses smoothly, and want to do the same for your brand, read on to understand the brand evolution process.

Brand evolution process

The evolution process of a brand is the series of steps the brand undergoes to grow and adapt to the changing market demands, consumer behavior, and industry trends over time.

The brand evolution process can vary depending on the specific brand and its goals. The stages include brand assessment, strategy development, identity design, marketing, and management.

Here is a general step-by-step brand evolution process:

1. Conduct a brand audit

Start by reviewing your brand’s current position in the market.

Assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your brand.

Identify areas where the brand is strong, and where it needs work.

2. Refine your strategy

Based on your brand audit and target audience analysis, develop a comprehensive brand strategy for evolution, to maximize and improve the brand.

A few key elements of a brand strategy include your brand’s positioning, messaging, visual identity, and communication channels.

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You need to have a vision of what your brand will be in the future, and build a roadmap to acheive that vision.

An efficient brand development strategy is a crucial step in the evolution process, helps guide future brand activities, and fosters brand consistency. Click To Tweet

3. Refresh your brand design

Once you know the current state of the brand and developed a strategy to improve it, the next step is to create a visual identity to communicate the changes.

Some brand imagery examples to revise could involve tweaking brand logos, color palette, typography, and other visual properties that make your brand recognizable.

4. Create relevant messaging

The next step in the brand evolution process is to communicate the brand messaging pillars and your brand adjectives to your target audience through various marketing channels.

Advertising, social media, and email are some key avenues that you can use to show your target audience the slight changes you have made to your brand.

5. Monitor your brand evolution

Once you have worked on your brand evolution strategies and implemented the changes, you have to track them to see how your audience responds to the changes.

If you have done your research well, your brand acceptance, loyalty, and engagement should grow after the brand evolution process.

Keep track of your brand’s success using metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, email campaigns, and sales.

This will help you to identify areas that need improvement and make adjustments to your branding strategy as needed.

Brand Evolution Process for Small Businesses

Difference between rebranding and brand evolution

You are probably curious how brand evolution differs from rebranding, a term you are likely used to. Maybe you came across the term – brand evolution – while searching for rebranding.

Rebranding vs. brand evolution can be confusing for small business.

Both represent changes in how a brand looks, interacts, and presents itself to its target audience.

However, there are a few differences.

1. Rebranding completely overhauls a brand’s look, messaging, products and services, and internal processes. Brand evolution or brand refresh, on the other hand, refers to the subtle changes in how a brand looks, acts, and presents itself.

2. Rebranding occurs when a brand wants to repair a bad reputation, move into a new market with a new target audience, or employ a new management that feels things should be done differently. Brand evolution changes are made in response to customer feedback, design trends, and slight changes in internal processes.

3. A rebranding is usually a drastic process whereas brand evolution is a smooth, seamless, transition to a more refreshed brand identity, keeping the core brand values and story the same.

Big businesses will usually have a launching event to announce the changes made to a brand and intimate the target audience on what to expect.

The difference between rebranding and brand evolution is in the depth of the changes made and how long the process takes. Click To Tweet

Difference between rebranding and brand evolution

Small business brand evolution tips

Brand evolution can be challenging, especially if you are a small business working on it for the first time.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Know your target audience

It would be difficult evolving your brand to meet the needs and preferences of your target audience if you do not understand them.

Before starting the brand evolution process, conduct market research to understand your target audiences’ interests. With that, meeting your customers’ needs and preferences becomes easier.

This will ensure that your brand evolution process is going to be effective.

2. Stay true to your core values

As you evolve your brand, it’s important to stay true to your core values and mission.

Ensure that any changes you make align with your brand’s purpose and don’t compromise its integrity.

3. Update and improve your online presence

It is essential to update your websites, social media accounts, and other online platforms to reflect the changes in your brand identity.

Do this uniformly across all your online platforms to ensure message consistency.

4. Be open to feedback

Before you even launch your brand evolution process, get feedback on the proposed changes from different stakeholders like your customers, employees, or other peoople related to your industry.

You need to understand how your brand changes could be perceived

Make changes based on those feedback, if necessary.

5. Be patient

Brand evolution takes time and effort.

Be consistent and patient in your efforts, and you will be able to create a strong brand identity that resonates now and in the future.

Is brand evolution right for you?

Brand evolution is crucial for small businesses looking to stay competitive and relevant in an ever-changing market.

It goes beyond tweaking your brand logos and color schemes to create an attractive brand identity.

Instead, you must continually evaluate and refine your brand to better connect with your target audience and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Embracing brand evolution as a continuous process will position your business for continued growth and success.

Have your worked on a brand evolution exercise before, for your brand? How did you do it? Share your stories!

Christopher Iwundu

Christopher Iwundu

Christopher ‘Positive Equator’ Iwundu is a freelance SEO content marketing specialist with over five years of experience. He works with B2B and B2C business owners looking to generate and convert leads with content marketing.

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5 months ago

The Instagram app icon is classic. It went from 3D to flat because all mobile buttons went flat. It was a sad day in logo land.
Another classic example of brand evolution is Starbucks. Have you noticed how that logo has changed over the course of the past few decades?

Ryan Biddulph
5 months ago

All smart tips here Christopher. Being different in branding terms to serve and stand out is so key yet few muster up the courage to walk off of the blogging and branding beaten path. Goodness knows I have at times LOL. Sure it feels uncomfortable to do things differently. But that is why we all have our unique gifts, talents and paths to walk. We all have specific jobs to be truly helpful, to craft stand-out brands and to be of best service but need to listen to our intuition for guidance. If you ignore the intuition you will fit in, your brand never evolves and no one will notice you. Not because you work little, or, offer a poor brand experience per se, but because you looked past the small, still voice that guided you to have fun and stand out.

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