6 brand overhauls we loved in 2019

By Nick Hall | 17 Dec 2019 View comments

There’s nothing more appealing a fresh new look. Whether it be a new coat of paint or upmarket update, everyone loves to keep things contemporary. When it comes to brand overhauls, the look is everything.

The goal may be to capture a new audience, or in some cases, just to stay relevant. Regardless, branding is critical to the overall positioning of a business, and plays a key role in the customer experience.

Some franchise brands like to continually modernise their branding and design, rolling out new campaigns and products seemingly every week. For others, brand overhauls and redesigns can be years in the making, culminating in an expensive and strategic repositioning strategy.

Whatever your flavour or focus, a brand redesign is a big move, and in 2019, we saw a fair few. Here’s six of the coolest brand overhauls we spotted this year.

1. KFC

The iconic chicken chain went back to its roots this year, dropping the acronym in favour of the traditional Kentucky Fried Chicken moniker.

A return to the heritage logo and graphic design was an poignant nod to the past, in a year when the brand unveiled its most futuristic innovations to date. The new high-tech five-lane drive through only outlet was one of the first restaurants to cop the revamped branding, which managing director Nikki Lawson said was recognition of the brand’s past.

“KFC is who we are. Kentucky Fried Chicken is what we serve,” she told Inside Franchise Business.

“We’ve been serving Kentucky Fried Chicken to Aussies for over 50 years now. Bringing back Kentucky Fried Chicken as part of our food story is a nod to our heritage and a reminder to Aussies that there’s only one secret recipe that makes our chicken so Finger Lickin’ Good.”

The branding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we love the retro vibes almost as much as we love bucket of the Colonel’s finest.

2. Anytime Fitness

Global fitness giant Anytime Fitness may have announced it was getting a fresh new look this time last year, but it wasn’t until a slate of new gyms opened in 2019 that we got to see the new design in action.

Designed by guest experience firm Livit, the new concept emphasised the four principles viewed as key to Anytime Fitness’ success: approachability, empowerment, honesty and humanity.

Ripley franchisee Matthew Doughty was the first partner to sport the new design and revealed that the customer-focused approach was a hit with members.

“Our passion is driven by seeing members achieve their fitness goals and feel good about their workouts. The new design is engineered to help us better ‘care, coach and connect’ with our members.

“Features such as an open office allow us to better communicate with our members and engage in their experiences. Increased functional training space allows for more flexibility with group training programs to meet the needs of a wide variety of members.”

3. Swimart

Pool service and maintenance franchise Swimart got in on the action in August, with one of the progressive brand overhauls this year.

A fresh new logo and rebranding strategy heralded an exciting phase for the 36-year old business. The rebrand was sparked by an internal audit, whereby the franchise conducted research into customer profiles and needs.

The move allowed Swimart to better tailor products and services to its key target market, typified by a fresh new approach to marketing.

We got down to the nitty gritty, like ascertaining who the “real” Swimart customer is (the one who takes responsibility for the pool as opposed to the one who is responsible for the pool),” marketing manager Nathan Hallahan explained.

“We talked about category tensions (unhealthy water) and barriers (complex chemical interactions and product information) and what it is that Swimart sells (ultimately, peace of mind).”

4. Fastway Couriers/Aramex

Iconic courier and distribution business Fastway Couriers was bought by global logistics giant Aramex in 2016, but it wasn’t until July this year that the rebrand took full effect.

Peter Lipinski, Fastway Couriers Australia chief executive said a significant increase in demand for global e-commerce solutions had encouraged the group to accelerate its rebrand efforts.

“We are combining our local customer service with a fresh new look and global mindset with access to even more shipping destinations,” Lipinski said.

“The rebrand represents a powerful opportunity for our local franchise operators, and for the many Australian businesses looking to capitalise on global trends in online retail.”

5. Xtend Barre

Just like Anytime Fitness before it, gym chain Xtend Barre rolled out a fresh new design in May.

The slick, modern look was first unveiled at the franchise’s Lane Cove studio in Sydney. Sporting clean lines, fresh white interior and modern, industrial fittings, the new studio design immediately got the attention of members, but it wasn’t the only new addition.

The chain brought across the backlit LED feature X and new logo, which had already been launched overseas. Further, all new studios introduced an upgraded retail space.

“We have moved away from the teal and yellow, which were in the older studios and have adapted the black and white colour scheme throughout while incorporating the dark brown timber floors and grey furnishings to give it same look and feel of the Preston Hollow studio,” Nick Cowpar, fitout manager for operator Collective Wellness Group said.

6. InXpress

After 20 years of the international market, logistics business InXpress earmarked 2019 as a year for change. The full-network rebrand saw all franchise partners worldwide adopt the new logo and ‘Your Promise, Our Business’ tagline.

In Australia, the move signalled the chain was eager to build on its already established franchise operation.

Country manager James Buck told Inside Franchise Business that it was necessary for the brand to revamp and revitalise its look to better reflect the modern approach to business.

“As a modern and progressive organisation, we needed our brand to lead the way to meet the changing needs of our customers. Our messaging is built on our core values which we hold strongly and help us to provide customers with the best possible experience,” he said.

“The rebrand gives us an opportunity to promote who we are and what we do. One of the biggest advantages to refreshing the look and feel of the brand is the potential to reach new customers.”

Brand overhauls

In the modern Australian landscape, the need to rebrand and rework a chain’s positioning is more important than ever. Customers demand difference and reward individuality, but not all brand overhauls hit the mark.

Some chains attempt to break new ground by stretching outside the norm, polarising their existing market. If there’s one thing to be learned from KFC’s new look, is that sometimes looking into the past, can be a great way to move forward.