Can a Brand Evolve?

People are Brands

image: Branding Ecuador

We talked many times about brands and branding. I believe in both, personal branding and brand storytelling. They are both valid tools for writers.

Conversely, many writers, myself included, are wary of branding for fear of being pigeonholed or known for one thing only.

Nonetheless, the most successful authors out there, the Seanan Maguires, the Brandon Sandersons, and the John Scalzis of the world, are known for one thing they do better than anyone.

A peculiar voice, style, or theme. A specific setting or cosmology. An original idea.

And yet, we must remember, branding is a tool. We are not enslaved to our brand. In effect, brands change. Constantly.

But what if my tastes change? What if I want to move in a different direction? What if my writing style evolves? Should I change my brand? How do I market myself? Will I lose readers? Is it worth it?

In short, do brands evolve? Can they? Of course, they do.

Remember, brands are not people but people are brands. And people continuously change, just like society changes, and culture too.

The real question we should ask ourselves is, should we evolve our brand or rebrand our brand?

Brand Evolution or Rebranding?

People recognize this logo without a single word, which is a sign of a popular brand. Image: Shutterstock

Are brand evolution and rebranding the same? Which one is better? No, they do not mean the same.

Brand evolution is about changing more than your font size, colors, and logos. Whereas rebranding is like improving visuals and the sort. Branding evolution is about messaging.

They are not incompatible. Still, they must be consistent.

For example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola often change their logos and packaging. That is rebranding. But if they changed their flavors, fans will quit them. In fact, it happened before (anyone remembers when New Coke failed?).

However, they both have evolved to include other flavors such as diet, vanilla, (and my favorite) cherry. That is brand evolution. (Also smart marketing).

The original Hanafuda Nintendo cards. Image: Pinterest

Similarly, both Nintendo and Netflix are so far from their beginning products. Nintendo started in 1889 as a playing card company. Yes, playing cards, not video games.

Meanwhile, Netflix started in 1997 as a DVD rental by mail, not a streaming channel. They thrived while Blockbuster video disappeared.

So, what changed? And how did they pull it off? Easily. They remain true to their values.

For instance, Nintendo is about “having fun playing with friends”, whether this translates to playing cards or video games. Likewise, Netflix is about “entertainment and convenience” for the customer.

And yet, if Nintendo would have become a supermarket or Netflix a bank, they would have failed. It is not what their respective brands are about.

You can rebrand once in a while, and your writing brand should evolve. The question is when and how?

When Should Your Brand Change?

image: Freepik

A mistake we all make is not knowing ourselves and chore values when rebranding. Or overthinking this process.

Brands should evolve organically.

Look at Mother Nature. Australopithecines did not become Homo sapiens overnight. It took centuries of slow adaptations, mutations, interbreeding, and evolution to do so.

Likewise, dinosaurs did not become birds overnight either. Again, it happened slowly–and organically. Hence, if you change your brand too fast and too radically, you will lose readers.

For example, when I started this blog, I used the Olsen theme, switch to the Lovecraft theme after four years, and now I am using the Hugo theme. The format and pages remain the same. It is only the presentation that changed.

It keeps it fresh for the reader. Not too predictable, but still familiar enough.

Also, my tagline used to be “writing utopian futures“. My new tagline is “Blue-collar science fiction for the rest of us“. Why the change? Because my interests, themes, and writing had evolved in that direction.

Oh, you will get utopian tomorrows with happy endings. But the protagonists will be working class.

To conclude, brands evolve because people change. The trick is to evolve gradually and with purpose.

Reader, in one word, what is your brand? How is it evolving? Share in the comments.


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May 2023