We scoured the country for brands that underwent extreme makeovers and found five that looked great to us. Then we put them to the experts for the test. Here's what they said about the "afters"--and what you need to keep in mind when planning your own great makeover.
Lynette Xanders: founder, Wild Alchemy, a Portland, Oregon, branding and research firm
Karen Post: the Branding Diva, a Tampa, Florida, branding consultant and author of Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers' Minds
Jeff Fisher: founder, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, a Portland, Oregon, design firm, and author of Identity Crisis! 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands
Founder: John Lee, 48
Behind the makeover: After Ubiq opened its Walnut Street location in 2004, Lee decided it needed a 2007 renovation more in line with the hip, urban feel of the $2 million athletic shoe and clothing retail brand. He worked with New York City design firm Architecture at Large to make the store feel like a cool place with a luxe attitude.
What the Experts Say
Lynette Xanders: This redesign works for me. Both ends of the spectrum--industrial/modern and warm/rustic--seem to have been ramped up. However, I feel [like] the store experience is ungrounded in terms of tying the look and feel of the place to the brand: the icon, colors, tag line, etc.
Jeff Fisher: Ubiq did a great job of recognizing the increasing sophistication of its target market and needs to implement subtle improvements over time to avoid having to do another major makeover in the near future.
Karen Post: I wish this store were in my neighborhood. If hip and urban was the goal, the new environment tells that story.
What's key here is that the décor and space are merely the foundation of this brand experience. What the employees are wearing, what the packaging is like and how it leverages the senses are the true glue.
Patriot Consulting Inc., Iselin, New Jersey
Founders: Jon McIntyre, 39, and Jerry Zariello, 39
Behind the makeover: McIntyre and Zariello had a rudimentary sell sheet that didn't represent their brand well. It was cluttered and inappropriate for their corporate clients seeking IT professionals. They turned to Sagefrog Marketing Group in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for help.
What the Experts Say
Xanders: This makeover was successful. The revised collateral piece is much more inviting, readable and professional than its predecessor, which looked like a web page. More could have been done to reduce the density of the copy. In fairness, perhaps it's not the amount of copy, but how it's presented.
Post: Print collateral has a role, but it can't win many big battles alone. Whatever you invest in print, make sure the same files are available to download on your website. Great branding is about consistent storytelling at all points. Strategic collateral that reinforces themes, stories, points of distinction and memorable messaging is still important.
Jive Software, Portland, Oregon
Founders: Bill Lynch, 31, and Matt Tucker, 30
Behind the makeover: Tucker says the bullhorn image in the old logo "didn't represent collaboration as much as it did an individual voice. And it certainly didn't match the new product logos and corporate identity." Because the company specializes in social and collaborative software, the logo didn't reflect the company's brand. After a false start, the company revisited the logo earlier this year, working with independent creative director Raja Sandhu.
What the Experts Say
Xanders: This revamp succeeds because the take-away is visually clean, yet provides some elements of high-tech, warmth and movement, as a mother brand should. These mother brands need to be somewhat oversimplified to work with product brands and logos.
Fisher: The original logo said little about any collaborative effort with the singular bullhorn image. There wasn't a strong connection between the bullhorn, the name and the tagline. The design came across as an icon slapped up against some text, with not a lot of relation between the two.