Marketwire rebrands as a wired company

Marketwire, a well-run Canadian icon offering news distribution services, has rebranded once again, less than a year after its previous rebranding effort. That’s a pretty small timeframe between significant brand changes.

According to yesterday’s official announcement, the rebranding was the result of wanting to “embrace technology to become an ‘open business’ — improving our products, people and processes.”

Marketwire becomes Marketwired

The new name, Marketwired, adds one letter to the company name. Seems like a small change. But the change is troubling on a number of fronts.

First, the name itself is now awkward. Companies must consider how their name will sound when you put it into a possessive context, and the new Marketwired name is difficult to use in a possessive form.

Secondly, the new visual identity is wrong for this corporate leader, making the brand look like a group of 20-somethings working out of their parent’s garage.

Here’s a look at the history of Marketwired’s brand (you can already see the awkwardness of the possessive form).

Pre-2012 brand identity

The company started out as a simple wire service, enabling corporations to get news releases into the hands of many media sources very quickly and efficiently. The original logo was pretty flat, just a name with the RSS symbol stacked on top. As the company grew, it definitely needed a real identity.

Rebranding May 2012

Last May, the company went through a very significant branding effort, which included a slick new corporate identity and the tagline “Beyond Words.” This new identity positioned the brand strongly as an industry leader. I liked it a lot and felt this presented a corporate personality befitting a leading brand, one that emphasized professionalism and strong management. No doubt some within the company thought it was too conservative, but as a Marketwire client myself, I found that the conservative nature of the identity added a trust element that was powerful.

Rebranding April 2013

The latest rebranding takes a much more contemporary look, adding an Escher-like 3D aspect to the logo. The positioning statement changed as well, now claiming that the company represents “The power of influence.” The name was split into two words visually, stacked on top of each other. The name and tagline are now tightly set against the logo itself, using two extremely different fonts, one of them in two weights.

Tagline improved

I find the new tagline, “The power of influence,” to be much stronger than the previous one. It’s unique and makes a claim that connects the company to its primary purpose in a clear, effective way. However, the font treatment for the tagline is hideous and much too juvenile for an industry leader.

Logo loses previous leadership qualities

While the new logo uses a clever combination of the M and W by inverting the two letters and adding a 3D extrusion, it has been over-engineered. The resulting image comes across as overly playful. The impression is now that of a junior player in the field, not one of the world’s leaders.

Negative space around the logo has been removed, allowing other elements to crowd the logo. This further weakens the sense of strong leadership and well organized management. Furthermore, the effect of using two fonts and two font weights gives the impression of three fonts, which looks indecisive and amateurish.

Branding should not be taken lightly

Far too often I see corporate management apply branding efforts in a casual, almost frivolous way, without sufficient consideration for the long-term implications. I’m not suggesting that Marketwired was frivolous in their effort, but in my view not enough time or thought was given to the rebranding. Brands become stronger over time, so a brand’s history should be respected and honored throughout the process, keeping as much as possible of the previous identity. Studies have found that rebranding can have the same impact as closing the company’s doors and starting over. In one historic case, a worldwide corporate giant spent seven years and millions of dollars to rebrand itself. At the end of all that, research found that almost a quarter of respondents thought the company had gone bankrupt. It’s never something to be taken lightly.

There’s nothing wrong with updating your brand. Such changes need to be made from time to time. But before you decide on the new direction for your company’s brand, consider how the best brands, such as Apple and Starbucks, make changes as seldom as possible and as minimal as possible.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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