Debranding and How to Make It Work Successfully for Your Brand

Debranding is a difficult design trend to miss and has been a bit controversial – especially among designers. We have seen a plethora of businesses across a range of industries follow the trend of debranding but what does it mean and what is its purpose? And more importantly, how can it be done effectively?

Read on to find out more about debranding and what has worked for other brands, to better assess whether it is the right move for your business.

What is Debranding?

At the centre of many marketing campaigns, debranding is the act of streamlining your brand identity by removing words, simplifying design or changing your business name and logo completely. The overall goal is to create a customer-centric brand – but how effective is this approach?

Debranding has become more and more relevant as we move into a mobile-first society. Where logos were once made to be intricate, it’s now necessary to make them fit comfortably on mobile devices and still be recognisable. In addition to necessity, having a simplified visual aspect of your brand allows for more freedom when it comes to the design side of marketing campaigns or online media.

A great example of this is the Warner Brothers logo and its use across their film introductions. In 2019, they refined their once 3D, blue and gold emblem logo to a more two-dimensional shape. It’s now a lot easier for Warner Brothers to incorporate its logo into the title sequences of films and have it remain both on brand for their identity, but also specific to the film.

Warner Brothers Debranding

 

It’s easy to get confused between debranding, un-branding and rebranding. So here are our definitions to help make it clear for you:

Debranding:

The removal of brand elements to appear less corporate and more personal. The key aim of this is to focus on the consumer, not the corporation.

Unbranding:

Selling products without any name/logo/branding at all. The main benefit of un-branded content or products is the potential to increase engagement. This is because media generally appears more organic when not associated with a particular brand.

Rebranding:

The process of changing the corporate image of an already established organisation to stand out among competitors, for example when you want access to a new territory.

What Are the Different Types of Debranding?

Here are a couple of ways to use debranding to create a powerful marketing campaign with examples from brands that have successfully used it as a powerful marketing tool:

Modern Debranding

This method isn’t as simple as just refining a logo. Modern debranding is an effective way to acquire smaller companies or products while maintaining a positive public image. With this method the company name is completely removed from the branding but the design is not changed, allowing for seamless acquisition of smaller companies.

We have seen this type of debranding with the Lay’s/Walkers crisp marketing. This stands as a great example, where Lay’s acquired Walkers but used the same visual identity across all marketing and products, despite having different names.

Lays Walkers Debranding

Going Generic

Some brands may need to transition to a less specific look, and going generic is an effective way to accomplish this. Removing or simplifying specific elements of your brand will allow your marketing to speak for itself and have less of a corporate impact on your customers or clients.
By going generic, companies are able to include other services or products that may not have initially fit in with the design prior to a debrand. As well as this, it allows companies to remove parts of their branding they may not identify with.

A really effective example of this was in 1991, when KFC, previously known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, debranded to the acronym we all know today. The motivation was to avoid the stigma associated with the word “fried” and they have successfully remained one of the go-to fast food brands.

Kentucky Fried Chicken debranding to KFC

De-corporatising

Removing your company name and logo feels like an odd move, however, the idea is that it will bring people closer to your brand emotionally, generating a positive image of the company with consumers.

When Coca-Cola removed its name and logo from can packaging in 2011 for its “Share a Coke” campaign only to replace them with names of the public, they were de-corporatising. The aim of this was to appear more consumer friendly by giving customers a personal experience with their product.

Using this campaign as an example shows us that debranding can be a hugely effective marketing strategy for your brand as young adult consumption increased by 7%, making 2011 the most successful summer ever for Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Share a Coke Campaign debranding

 

Of course, there are many things to consider when thinking about changing your branding. If you’ve created a strong visual identity that people connect with, it can be difficult to get it right and it will be important to understand your motivations to do so.

If you’re apprehensive about debranding your entire visual identity, launching a campaign with a strong consumer focus and less corporate feel is a great place to start. Letting your brand speak for itself and connect with customers will create a powerful message and ultimately bring trust to your company, resulting in loyalty that is simply unachievable otherwise.

If you’re interested in launching a debranding campaign or improving your current branding, get in touch with the Team.

Alternatively, you can access more exclusive news and tips by visiting our insights page or signing up for our monthly Newsletter.

 

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