It’s a dilemma for a mature brand. When’s the right time to initiate a rebrand? In our almost three decades experience branding consumer packaged goods, we find that there isn’t a hard and fast best-before date. Certain conditions though, would suggest a good time to consider such a move.
A shift in strategic focus or business objectives means a rebrand can help signal this significant change to consumers. Sometimes, the consumer experience has evolved and a rebirth can realign the brand to become meaningful again. Every so often, disconnections can occur between the brand and its offering or what’s been happening in the world. In those situations, a rebrand can provide the necessary storytelling to reconnect with consumers once more.
In the case of See Ya Later Ranch, a winery owned by Constellation Brands, we were asked to refresh the brand, which we had initially created 12 years ago. Back then, we had named it See Ya Later Ranch from Hawthorne Mountain to convey its colourful history. The name also connoted a playful, quirky personality that’s intrinsic to the brand. After years nurturing a devoted following, SYL Ranch needed to reinvigorate its story with a better emphasis on its wines’ award-winning quality.
The name also connoted a playful, quirky personality that’s intrinsic to the brand.
You’ve spent years earning that equity; it’s a valuable resource. A proper brand evaluation will give insights into which assets must remain, what can be changed and what can be discarded. In a lot of cases, the rebirth is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change from what the brand is currently. Change can be scary—especially for your team—it’s critical to be strategic with the transition.
With SYL Ranch, continuing to convey its playful lighthearted angel dog character was essential to the brand DNA, so we transformed the painterly illustration into a silhouette icon out of gold foil with forms that are both elegant and approachable. This achieved continuity with the brand history, a refined update with quirky attitude while still delighting loyal fans and new consumers.
One challenge with the brand is the tradition of colour-coding the varietals and blends. While a palette of colours can help consumers navigate the different varieties offered on the shelves, it can also be a limiting factor when it’s time for a rebrand. Since part of our mandate with SYL Ranch was to communicate quality more effectively, we carefully considered the best strategy for dealing with the colour system.
Our solution was not to abandon the system altogether. Instead, we took the previous colours as starting points to develop a new palette that better reflected a premium appeal, adjusting the hues as needed. Other elements, like varietal and blend names and copy sizing were redesigned to help existing and new consumers find and distinguish their previous favourites. See Ya Later Ranch was relaunched with great fanfare and enthusiastic reception, coinciding with its Rover red blend winning The Premier’s Wine award for best wine in BC for 2014.
While this is just one example of the potential trickiness of refreshing a much-loved, successful brand, it’s important to take the time to get it right and collaborating with an experienced strategic design firm mitigates your risk. Brand refreshes can backfire and in a damaging and public way these days… no one wants to be the next Tropicana story.