VIM Group, in collaboration with the University of Twente, carried out a scientific research into the effects of changing an organisation’s visual identity. The rationale for the study was to gain insight into the internal and external effects of a rebrand. Results have shown, among other things, that a new corporate style often results in a significantly more positive assessment of the corporate identity. The full published research article can be found in the Journal of Marketing Communications.

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Each year, many organisations make the decision to change their visual identity. There are various reasons for this: The overriding objective for change is often the desire to position the organisation in a more favourable light. The expectation is that the improved appearance will have a positive impact on the corporate image, and in turn, the overall performance of the organisation.

To test this hypothesis scientifically, four major Dutch organisations measured the internal and external effects of changing the visual identity. The teams surveyed consumers and employees to gain insight into how visual change was perceived. Specifically, the survey asked the audience to respond to questions in the following areas, namely: rebrand communications, knowledge of the visual identity, corporate identity, and appreciation of the visual identity and organisation.

The results

As expected, this study showed conclusively that a change of visual identity resulted in significantly more positive scores about how the organisation is perceived. Additionally, following a rebrand, organisations are seen as modern and up-to-the-minute.

The results on the overall assessment of the organisation, and aspects as distinctiveness and trust differed by organisation. The research proved that the ultimate success of any rebrand is often dependant on many other factors, and not just the change of the visual identity.

This research found that the quality of communication around the rebrand is essential. In those organisations where a lot of attention was paid to involving stakeholders in the change programme and bringing stakeholders along the journey, the change was assessed more positively.

What can we learn from this research?

Rebranding is an ideal way to positively influence the perceptions of stakeholders about the modernity of an organisation. If the intention is to adapt the identity and image in the broader sense, then more than just a change of visual identity is needed. It is important to remember that any brand change which an organisation carries out, will not only become visible in the visual appearance of the brand but, above all, it should be conveyed in the communication and behaviour of the organisation. In other words, do what you promise. In this case, the visual identity is an ideal way to make the change of the organisation visible.

Source: Bolhuis, W., De Jong, M.D.T. & Van den Bosch, A.L.M. (2015). Corporate rebranding: Effects of corporate visual identity changes on employees and consumers. Journal of Marketing Communications.

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