How Brands Diversify – Part 3: Brand Evolution – Podcast Ep. 36

How Brands Diversify – Part 3: Brand Evolution – Podcast Ep. 36

Brand evolution is the practice of making gradual changes in response to customer feedback. This often affects the brand’s creative aesthetic, strategic messaging, position in the marketplace, staffing, and more.

While a brand evolution shares similarities to a rebranding, the two concepts aren’t interchangeable. A rebrand is a significant shift in how your brand looks and presents itself in the marketplace, typically carried out within a precise time-frame.

A brand evolution, on the other hand, is more of an operational mindset. It’s the act of making usability and design sprints on your website, for example. Or introducing new creative into an ongoing campaign.

Think of brand evolution as baby steps aligned with your current position in the market, whereas a rebranding is a giant leap to something new.

Design Evolution

Evolution of a brand’s design involves more than just logos. It extends to product labels and packaging, the website, digital ad creatives, message, or any creative the brand makes shifts in this evolution.

Design evolution also can happen as design trends change. Think about the aesthetic difference between a website in 2001 vs. a website in 2020. Night and day.

Evolution Example: Harley Davidson Electric Bikes

Harley Davidson is a brand that is frequently evolving and trying to gradually reinvent themselves. They’ve seen dips in their market share in recent years, which they chalked up to an aging demographic.

Most recently, they’ve refocused the brand to go in a more aspirational direction, like Ferrari, and brought their attention back to selling big bikes in the US — their largest market.

black and green cruiser motorcycle
Photo by Oleg Magni on

Why Is Brand Evolution Necessary?

  1. Brand evolution shows customers you’re growing and interesting. This helps you avoid becoming stale.
  2. Evolving introduces a new vision. This isn’t to replace your original vision, but to make the previous vision more relevant and fresh.
  3. Increasing market share or expanding into a new market.
  4. Sociopolitical and economic changes such as, say…a pandemic.

DC and Warner Bros. have chosen to release all 2021 titles to both the theaters AND HBO Max. Now that’s an evolution.

Sony’s Brand Evolution

  • Sony – started in 1946 making tape recorders for the war.
  • Transistors in 1954 appeared.
  • In 1960, color televisions.
  • The walkman, and then video.

A complete list of products that Sony has developed can be found at the links below:

Sony’s corporate identity evolving…

Sony logo evolution

From its introduction, the eye-catching SONY logo was revered within the company. The first version of the logo, which was enclosed in a square box, was registered as a trademark in 1955. Thereafter, the logo went through a succession of changes. In the 1960s, when Sony began to seriously develop its brand image overseas, the logo was displayed in neon in New York and Hong Kong, where it competed with famous and well-established foreign companies. In 1959, the catchphrase “Sony — a worldwide brand born in Japan” was introduced to capitalize on the logo. This was followed by the slogan, “Research Makes the Difference.”

Sony’s website

We’ve all owned a Sony product – which ones have you owned?

  1. Trinitron
  2. Walkman 
  3. Watchman 
  4. PlayStation 
  5. Betamax
  6. Blu-ray
  7. Vaio
  8. Handicam 
  9. 3.5” Floppy disks 
  10. Memory sticks
  11. Xperia
  12. Bravia
  13. Sony Music Entertainment

I'm the Co-founder and CEO at NerdBrand. I've spent over 12 years in digital advertising providing strategic direction for businesses to build better websites, brands, and messaging, with an eye for improving online presences and laying a foundation for future growth.