In the News: Radio Shack and Nickelodeon Rebranding

August 7, 2009sparxoo_admin

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Tara Lane, Emerging Leader

In a time when companies are scrambling to adapt in the new economy, many are changing their visual presentation to consumers. While some have gone with a simpler, modern look that is trimmed down (just like our bank accounts), others are pursuing more extreme image makeovers. This week, there were two significant examples of corporations adapting their brand images–one from the television network Nickelodeon and the other from tech giant Radio Shack.

Nickelodeon Goes Splat?

Nickelodeon is shedding its famous “splat” logo and launching a new, trimmed-down identity. Shedding the slime image from the previous generation of Nickelodeon viewers, the fun, kid-centric television network is cultivating a new image for a new generation. “We wanted to clean it up and allow Nick to be the stamp on all of these channels [i.e. Nick at Nite, Nicktoons, Noggin and The N]… In asking ourselves if everything could live under the splat, we decided that the splat was dated. It just couldn’t be done in a streamlined way,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of television network.

The splat image, developed in 1984, is now being substituted for a splat-like “i,” which can be implemented in the many logo iterations for Nickelodeon’s sister networks. Are the new re-tooling efforts strong or fun enough to make a meaningful impact with the network’s young demographic, or will it become the new symbol of fun the “splat” logo had on the previous Nick generation?

Is Radio Shack Turning Itself into a Shack?

In an attempt to make the store more current and hip to a younger audience, Radio Shack is changing its name to simply, “The Shack.” As radio becomes an increasingly archaic technology to the tech savvy Generation Y, Radio Shack needs to make significant changes to its brand image to appeal to a younger demographic. The company is hosting kickoff events nationwide, with the largest events taking place in New York City and San Francisco.

In the past year, major brands such as Pepsi, Walmart and MTV have launched rebranding efforts in an attempt to attract new audiences, while still appealing to their current customer base. All of these seem to have in are two common themes: while some companies are choosing to go “back to basics,” such as Walmart and Pepsi, others are pushing the limits in rebranding, like Radio Shack. Like all major rebranding efforts,  there are benefits and downsides to both.

Rebranding Trends

Back to Basics
When we think of “back to basics,” we think of returning to something original, from the past, something that consumers old and new can recognize and appreciate. However, there is still the thought that going “back to basics” might disappoint those who were looking forward to something more fresh and exciting, as we are in a time when innovation and change is a necessity. The “basics” that we’re seeing are a subtle mix of the two, walking the fine line between old and new. Companies going this route are going with a more of a modern, sleeker feel in the logos (such as Newsweek), advertising, and even store design.

Fourth Dimension
On the other end of the spectrum, some organizations are stretching in new ways, trying to reach for that next dimension. For those companies choosing to be a bit more daring in their efforts, there are some benefits and downsides to consider as well. Of course, an interesting, eye-catching and newsworthy rebranding effort will intrigue and create a buzz among some audiences, but they may still question the extent you’re going through to get that attention. In Radio Shack’s case, their efforts are so extreme that they may end up losing an entire customer base who feels alienated by the change. The Sci-Fi channel faced some backlash when they changed their network name to “Syfy” in an attempt to distance themselves from the typical “nerd” image. Taking these kinds of risks in a time when risks are looked down upon is definitely a challenge to companies who are looking to completely change their image or brand.

Rebranding efforts are never without notice, as it signals to the public that the company recognizes its need for change. It is always interesting to see the direction of new rebranding efforts, and measuring the public sentiment. At the end of the day, consumers will vote on the most effective branding efforts with their dollar.