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What is Debranding?

It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Why on earth would you remove branding from your company?

That’s probably the first thought you had when you read the title of this blog post. And that’s entirely reasonable; the word ‘debranding’ isn’t something you see every day.

Certainly, it needs some explanation.


Debranding: it has two definitions, don’t you know?

Ok, so let’s cover off the first element of confusion surrounding debranding.

It has two meanings:

  • debranding is the removal of elements within a brand to help it appear less corporate and more personal
  • debranding is the process of reducing the branding entirely to the point where it barely has any kind of personality

The latter is most commonly seen in supermarkets’ own brand value ranges. There’s no need for a brand personality or attention-grabbing visuals; it’s all about price and drawing customers towards the value on offer.

Today, we’re looking at the first rebranding definition. This is for one very simple reason: the process of debranding corporate logos is taking place far more regularly these days.

Logos which previously featured embossed iconography, bold text, and drop shadows are being replaced with flat, simple, word-free alternatives.

This used to be most prevalent within the fashion industry, where flat logos were required for ease of reproduction on products, but debranding is now an incredibly smart move for most businesses.


The benefits of debranding

Debranding is a technique designed to help brands appeal to much wider audiences. But it’s also capable of instantly modernising a flagging or old-fashioned brand.

In some industries, a corporate identity is essential in order to attract the right customers and be taken seriously. But if you’re attempting to appeal to a wide audience, moving towards a more personable brand is a far better idea.

Brand managers across the world are recognising that looking like a behemoth isn’t particularly attractive these days. Increasingly, consumers are looking for brands to which they can relate. If your logo screams, “we’ve got the biggest offices in the tallest high rise building in New York!”, that’ll be an immediate turn-off for most people.

If your logo is instead simple, flat, and non-glossy, it’ll feel far more approachable and classy. In turn, your audience is more likely to think that you’re capable of understanding their concerns, interests, and challenges.


Examples of debranding

One of the simplest and most effective examples of debranding in recent memory was undertaken by sportswear giant, Nike.

During the 90s, they decided to move away from their branding which had always included both the ‘swoosh’ and company word mark. Instead, they opted for a flat, solid colour version of the swoosh – nothing more.

This was incredibly smart, because for virtually everyone on the planet, that swoosh embodies the brand; it doesn’t needanything else.

More recently, Burger King went full circle and reverted back to its original, flatter identity by removing the tapered blue semi-circle, embossed bun, and arching wordmark. As a result, it looks far more modern and exciting.

Perhaps the most comprehensive recent example of debranding was at the hands of Warner Bros. This is about as brave a debranding project as you’ll see.

The multinational media conglomerate decided to switch its instantly-recognisable golden shield logo for one that was narrower, solidly blue, and completely flat. Even the name ‘Warner Bros’ was removed from the front of the logo to enable use without it entirely.


Is debranding for you?

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Do you look at your logo and feel it’s old-fashioned or fussy?
  • Do you want your brand to be more personable than corporate?

If you’ve answered “yes” to either one or both of the above, then rebranding is absolutely something you should explore.

There’s no point rebranding just for the sake of it (a trap businesses regularly fall into), but if a debrand will refresh the image of your company and ingratiate it more with your intended audience, it will be money well spent.

Fancy hearing more about debranding? Got any questions? Get in touch with the Be Smart team, today!

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