Recently the Victorian metropolitan train system has not been working very well. So much so that the incumbent Connex trains was sacked and replaced recently.
It’s created an interesting example of how not to re-brand something. And before I rant further, I’ll remind you of the startupblog definition of a brand:
Brand: A cognitive shortcut from which informed decisions can be made.
The brand is always the acummulation of the many interactions consumers have with the product or service. So with Connex, the brand was the overcrowded, delayed, cancelled, crime ridden, dirty train service. In fact much of the bad experience can be attributed to the inherited infrastrcutre. And it’s here that the key lesson lies. Whenever a re-branding event occurs, the brand custodians can’t wait to tell everyone how it will be different this time. They go off and implment a shiny new logo, make an advertisment, and paste the new brand, word or design on all the physical elements that represent the brand.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The reason the brand sucks, is because of the experience people are having with it. A new word or logo will never fix this. Re-branding should go all the way back to the start. A total product / service re-design, or maybe even an infrastructure update is needed – as in the case of Melbourne trains and Connex. If we want to re-brand anything with success, first we have to prove it’s better with real evidence. Slapping a Metro logo on the broken Melbourne train system will only damage the brand before it even begins. They should have fixed everything first. Even if it means not branding anything for a year or two. Having no name trains running on the tracks. Radical, maybe. Correct, no doubt. Fix the experience first, create cognitive associations later.
For entrepreneurs the idea is simple. Our brand will only ever be the memory of the experience our people had when interacting with us. If we want a new meaning, we need to create new experiences.