Thursday, 11 March 2010

To rebrand or not to rebrand? That is the 300-grand question.

In the light of Argos's recent brand overhaul, I thought I'd add my own insight / genius to the widespread discussion / rambling, ill-considered shitmongering on the subject of one of marketing's most widely ridiculed endeavours.

The public, bless them, see a slight alteration to one of their favourite brand's logos and hear six-figure numbers bandied about in the press - and what do they think? Well, in the case of Argos, they think a new typeface and the addition / purloining of Amazon's smile is, at best, a self-indulgent waste of time or, worse, a vulgar expenditure that will inevitably be passed on to them, the poor mugs who schlep through the door to buy bargain-bucket jewellery, ironing board covers and trampolines their idle, buttery children will look at vacantly from their bedroom window as they start another game of Grand Theft Porno.

(Of course, they're completely wrong. That expenditure won't be passed onto them because it was a rebrand. It'll be passed on to them because it's expenditure. It doesn't matter whether it's a rebrand or a new Merc for the sales director. OF COURSE we'll pass it onto them. Are they fucking stupid?)

Agencies, meanwhile, don't really help themselves. You will hear talk of a rebrand revitalising, re-energising, realigning, refocusing, repositioning or remaking a company in the public eye. All of which sounds very good until you see what that actually means in the real world, and how much talking of the purest, most unrefined bullshit it takes to get there. For instance, the last rebrand we went through took 19 months (partly because my mother, whom I consult on everything because she's nearly target audience, kept dismissing work because it was the same colour as a dress the woman who ran off with my father had) and at one point featured a presentation on the rotation of full stops.

Of course, they'll point to the amount of thinking, strategising, research, testing and retesting that goes into that slightly-rotated-but-not-too-much full stop and the addition of some shape or other. (Incidentally, these splats, squiggles, swooshes, shapes, swirls and blobs these fuckers add to logos are a much loved part of the rebranding process and, apparently, are 'devices'. This is where the bullshit really starts flying, but that's another post.) They will stand there and tell you that if they hadn't run 7 focus groups, spent 4 months 'developing' the creative and another 3 months 'deep-diving' into the brand, they wouldn't have got it so very, very right.

But here's the truth, folks.

There are only ever two reasons for a rebrand.

1. The client is bored of the logo.

2. The financial year is coming to and end and the budget needs to be used up, pronto.

Now don't get me wrong - I fucking love a rebrand. I love it as much as I love the soft, yielding caress of a big pair of bristolas wrapped around my face. But, unlike those bristolas, I don't actually need a rebrand. Still, that shouldn't get in the way of our enjoyment of the whole process. If you take out the endless, soul-fuckingly boring presentations, it's almost as good as finding a new agency. There are always lots of meetings with muffins, plenty of 'let's carry this on in the pub' and a fair degree of free lunches / monumental tear-ups.

(It has to be said, mind, that design agencies have none of the joie de piss-up of their advertising contemporaries. Designers seem to think - fuck knows why - that a meeting can be fueled by water and apples. I don't where to start.)

Back to Argos, then. I think this is a case of unspent budget. I mean, everybody's been bored of the old shitpile wankpit of a logo for decades, so somebody at Argos (possibly Mr Argos himself)) must actually like it. This bears all the hallmarks of a marketing manager who found 300 grand in a desk drawer while she was looking for a tampon.

And I should fucking well know.

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!