Brand chameleons: how ever-changing brands might operate
February 21, 2023
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Filed under Branding
Hear me out—I have an oddball question: why don’t some brands make a point to change their name, and their brand, regularly? As in, their name (and visual identity) change often to the point of transformation being core to who they are. Newness is the consistency.
I recognize this concept won’t work for most brands as they rely on stability and recognition. Understandably so. It’s natural to want brands making heart defibrillators or children’s car seats to be reliable and unwavering. However, there are some edge cases where this ever-changing name and brand approach might be a great way to cut through the noise and be a true reflection of what makes the brand. This style might work well for fashion houses, shops selling seasonal decor, conceptual bars and restaurants, or immersive experiences like an escape room. What’s necessary here are the driving forces behind the brand are committed to change. Some brands have approached this territory. Budweiser’s America campaign got close. Trick Dog, a bar in San Francisco, changes their menu and vibe in a major way—also close. However, I’ve yet to see anyone fully embrace an ever-changing chameleon-style brand positioning and identity.
When we deprioritize stability, we gain freshness, excitement, and intrigue. That’s powerful branding territory. That said, there are a few more hurdles to get over. SEO might be tough, as would Yelp reviews. Signage and printed materials would need to be more flexible and on demand. Word of mouth would be different, there would need to be some through line for how to find you. Or maybe being difficult to pin down is all a part of the fun, like a roving pop-up or a speakeasy.
Clearly, this is fringe branding territory. Sadly, I have yet to find myself in a situation to recommend this path to a client. We recommend the opposite: to name for as far into the future as we can see. To find a name that speaks to the core of what you’re doing so it’ll ring true now when you have two employees and when you have 500. Most people look for stability in their lives, in all parts of their lives.
In any case, I want to see more brands take this tack. Maybe it’s me looking for more excitement in my life, but I don’t think I’m alone. Let’s get weird.