I recently went though the brand refresh for Rice Athletics. During that process, I faced a little push back. Change is hard but what is even harder is facing the unknown. Many fans and alumni did not want something new but it is probably more to do with the uncertainty associated with what it could become than the actual end result.
After dozens of interviews, as a brand researcher and designer, I thought, “There is a clear need for change so it is better to support the process than fight it.” I would ask myself, “Why are people so reluctant? We have a well-thought out solution!"
Then it hit me. On a hot summer day in Houston, I noticed my rear-view window decal was burnt off and disintegrating. As a proud alumna of Carnegie Mellon University, I wanted to buy a replacement. So I went scouring the Internet for the same exact sticker. No luck. Frustrated, I wondered why the bookstore or even Amazon would not sell such a simple and obvious item.
It turns out that in the time since I graduated, the Athletics Department had done away with the old logo. I was looking for what I imagined to be current but it was no longer. I experienced that same sense of disappointment and confusion that Rice fans and alumni must have felt when something they were familiar with, had memories associated with, was not in-line with what they knew to be true.
But the truth is, once you get the new sticker, see it on your car, build new associations, you quickly forget. You accept that it is out with the old and in with the new. Branding is that innate emotional connection that may need to be explained initially, then re-established and fostered. From there, it lives and breathes on its own.