Rebranding: the “Should you / Shouldn’t you” guide

Rebranding can revitalize a company… But should you do it?


Have you ever thought about rebranding?

If you’re like many business owners, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, in the face of stagnant sales, incessant competition and changing markets, the idea of becoming a new, “different” company can be alluring.

But rebranding isn’t a walk in the park—and if you do it wrong, the consequences to your business can be dire.

Should you consider rebranding?

Here are some scenarios where overhauling your brand might make sense.

  • New product. If you’ve recently launched a new product or service that has the potential to confuse your customers, you might think about rebranding that part of the business. We don’t often recommend this approach, though. At BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we feel it makes sense most of the time to create one Master Brand and then roll out sub-brands underneath it.
  • New mission. A shift in your most basic reason for being definitely merits a rebranding conversation. For example, if you’ve been providing services to clients and now want to focus exclusively on teaching them, a rebrand is probably in order.
  • New image. If you’ve had a PR disaster—or an actual one—and you’re trying to distance yourself from it, rebranding may help you achieve your goal. This is difficult to do though, especially in a world where the internet can help even the least savvy customers see through your efforts. Witness tobacco giant Philip Morris and their attempt to rebrand as Altria.
  • New customers. If you’ve managed to attract a new market—whether by choice or by accident—rebranding may make sense. In the early 2000s, for example, Andersen Consulting split from its parent because its best clients wanted only consulting services. It then rebranded to Accenture to further distance itself from the accounting giant. (Good thing, too, as Andersen collapsed over its ties to Enron.)
  • New needs from current customers. The Canadian arm of Radio Shack, after being bought out in a consumer electronics deal, initially rebranded as The Source by Circuit City. But when its new owner began to falter, it became simply The Source—a move whose timing couldn’t have been better. Circuits and radios are things of the past, and the new name suggests that no matter where electronics go in the future, The Source will be there to provide that tech to its customers. (And both Circuit City and Radio Shack are now distant memories.)
  • New competition. To say things were different in the 90s than they were in the 50s is an understatement. But through that whole time, Kentucky Fried Chicken had the word “fried” right there in its name. 1991 saw a move to KFC, however, in a move away from that F-word. Too many healthy restaurants were giving the chicken giant a run for its money—so the move made sense. (Unfortunately, they handled the rebranding poorly; rumors persist to this day that they switched to KFC because they were no longer legally allowed to claim their product was “chicken.”)

When shouldn’t you rebrand?

Occasionally, businesses undertake a rebranding for the wrong reasons. Here are three.

  • New management. If all you’ve changed about your company is the management group—and the same problems you’ve always had continue to exist—your rebranding will never work.
  • New whims. Department store Macy’s lost a staggering amount of brand equity when it moved to a “one-brand” policy and renamed iconic brands like Chicago’s Marshall Field’s and Memphis’ Goldsmith’s. At the time, the decision was seen as foolish; Macy’s seemed to have recovered by the beginning of this decade but is struggling again.
  • New internal issues. If you’ve identified that you’re having trouble connecting with your market, is that a branding problem? Or is it because your marketing is horrible, or your customer service is poor, or your services aren’t delivered well? Be careful—not every issue is one that rebranding can solve.


In a perfect world, your competition would never change their strategy, your customers would stay loyal forever, and you’d see exponential growth year after year. This is obviously not the case—and while you don’t want to be too hasty with a rebranding exercise, don’t discount the power of reinventing your brand, either.



Why Blogging is Essential to Your Brand

It’s near the end of 2018, your business is running smoothly, your branding is on point, and you’re doing what you love… but you’re wondering: do I need a blog, too?

This is a common question from entrepreneurs, who usually have the same three obstacles: time, money, and not knowing what to write about.

The short answer? Yes, your business needs a blog.

You can skate by without one, but ultimately, the reasons to have one outweigh the time, effort, and money you might save by skipping it.

The basic reasons? You need to establish authority with two parties: Google and your target audience. Basically, it’s not enough to be an authority in your field. You need to make sure people know it, too.

At any given time, people are out there looking for information. And if you have it and you’re not making it available, you’re losing out!

Let’s Talk About Google

Google is one tool to get in front of an audience. Basically, to make use of it, you need to make yourself available, and that means putting out content that people are looking for.

Your goal with Google is to put out “lures” in the form of valuable information your target audience actually wants. This helps you to rank with Google, which rewards you with gradually higher and higher search result placement. The more valuable Google deems your info, the higher you’ll rank, and the greater audience you’ll reach.

Blogs are also great to use as part of your social media strategy, which also direct traffic your way. If you’re an authority in your field, you can also benefit from inbound links, which are simply when others reference your work. You can buy this kind of traffic, but building your reputation and attracting quality inbound links is key.

Your Brand’s Personality

You’ve spent so much time and effort designing your brand’s personality, and blogging is a great way to let it shine. “Humanizing” your brand to an audience helps make you more likeable, more authoritative, more relatable, more human. And that’s what resonates with customers and builds trust.

As you build trust, you gain authority. Think about where you go to find info you need right now, and why you go there. Is it a friend? A trusted mentor? A brand with history, authority, or pizzaz? It’s the same on the other side.

So What Do I Write About?

You’re a subject matter expert. You might be a good writer, too. That doesn’t mean you have to spend your own time writing. But you do want to mine your own experience for subjects or topics that will be relevant to your audience.

You may already be bursting with ideas. If you’re stumped, start by thinking about something you’ve explained in detail recently. How would you break it down simply for an audience?

Alternately, you can just jot down topics related to your discipline and come back to them a bit later. You can read other blogs for inspiration. You can imagine your platform as a way to talk about current events.

Really, the sky’s the limit.

Are you blogging now? Let us know how it’s going in the comments!

Is the latest Uber rebranding enough?

If you follow branding trends, you undoubtedly heard about the most recent Uber rebranding. They’ve replaced 2016’s odd, blue circuit board pattern with a simple, clean font, and in doing so, invited the opinion of every branding professional, designer, and enthusiast.
According to Fast Company, one of Wolff Olins’ primary goals was legibility. The old logo had caused problems both being viewed at higher rates of speed and distance and across languages. They wanted something clear and visible. They developed a typeface for the brand with this in mind. It’s worth reading into the thought that went into its creation with respect for these points.
But it’s difficult to see this rebrand as separate from the controversy the company is already well-known for. From “Boober” to spying on Beyoncè, to Trump ties, to sexual harassment, to a Google lawsuit, to Travis Kalanick, Uber has a significant reputation problem.
The question is, is yet another Uber rebranding—this rebranding—enough to help Uber move past it’s short, dramatic life? Maybe.

It’s a strategy.

It may appear like simply a bid to shed an old persona when the old one no longer serves, but there is a method to it.

“We tried to kick out all the micro-moments where trust was eroded,” says Forest Young, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, the agency who did the rebrand. This meant every moment where a rider couldn’t reconcile the old, atomic logo with the vehicle in front of them had to go. They had to re-create trust with customers in a tangible way, not from a high tower.

It’s not immune to criticism.

Our own creative team had mixed reactions. Some felt the changes were too safe and even safe to the point of disingenuous.  “The logo seems to get safer as their reputation gets worse”, one person said. “Design saves, but not if your vision and purpose are polluted by your actions” was another.  Some felt exasperation over the frequency leading to customer confusion, and some were disappointed they abandoned the old design. At the end of the day, it’s indisputably well-done. But whether or not it changes minds or eases suspicion is hard to predict.
Uber has an uphill challenge to undo the damage to their reputation. This rebrand may represent a step in that direction. It’s certainly clearer, less confusing, and more visible. But at the same time, rebranding too frequently may raise questions of credibility and instability.

Our 7 most popular branding blog posts

Fonts, mood boards, touchpoints, attributes: branding can be a complex process. If you’re new to branding, we’ve put together a list of some of our most popular branding blogs from the recent past to help you on your way.

How to make a mood board

Mood boards can be elusive. Most people more or less understand what they are, but are less clear on why they need one and what they can look forward to in the process. This post explains what a mood board is and what it does, when you should make a mood board, and how you can do so. This is a great starting point for those who are looking to crystallize the “mood” of their brand and a reference for those who are starting the Visual Identity process.

How to find a font that matches your personality

This is a fun, visual post breaking down 23 fonts you may or may not know. Fonts are critical to brand identity, and you need to know what kind of message your fonts might send. If you want to create an effective brand, you need to create a cohesive, comprehensive experience for your audience. Knowing fonts is a key element.

Building a brand of affordable luxury

This post both explains the concept of affordable luxury and teaches you how to achieve it. Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and other fashion names used the concept to propel them toward massive profit from slumping sales. We detail some of the key takeaways you can use in your own branding and brand messaging.

Branding vs Design

These two concepts can be easily confused, especially if neither is what you do. This post helps to break down the finer distinctions between the two. Think of the brand strategist as the architect of the brand, and the designer as the contractor who puts that design into physical being. Learn more about why it matters to you.

Are you using your archetype?

Jungian archetypes come up frequently when we talk about branding. They help provide a framework for bringing your brand to visually, in writing, and in presence. They’re an essential part of branding, plus… they’re fun!

Here a touchpoint, there a touchpoint, everywhere a touchpoint!

A branding touchpoint is more or less exactly what it sounds like: the points where you come in contact with your target audience. This post outlines strategies for both making those points happen, and what to do at those points.

Brand Attributes

This post has everything to do with the perception of quality. Brands of similar or equal value need to set up ways of differentiating themselves, or risk being seen as the inferior product despite the raw quality. Learn more about what you can do to create a perception of high quality.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

Five Quick Productivity Tips For Working At Home

How to stay on track and not go nuts when you work from home.

Something you might not know about us at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE is that like many entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, and other similarly free-spirited folks, we work mostly virtually. It can seem like the ideal setupbut as any work from home veteran will tell you, it’s easy to go off the rails.

So we have a quick list of things to watch out for if you’re leaving the corporate world and it’s offices, rules, and structure behind. This post is for the individualmanaging a team remotely is a whole other post.


Is working at home… good for my mental health? Is it bad? What gives?

If you do a basic Google search, you’ll find a lot of opinions out there on this topic. Not going into an office saves you the time and stress of a commutebut if you’ve grown accustomed to using that time to read, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, call family and friendsyou might notice you miss having that outlet. Going into an office can sabotage your healthy eating efforts with office snacks and having to grab fast food because you forgot lunchbut being at home can mean sitting in front of a computer all day with endless access to your own snacks.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual. What it comes down to is identifying what positives you got from going into an office, and what  you’ll need to be mindful of when those things are no longer built into your day. If most of your socialization is through work, you’ll need to figure out other ways to meet this needMeetups, social media interaction (especially with groups and spaces oriented toward your interests), or reaching out to someone in your field to get lunch or coffee—these are all great ways to both socialize and network. What’s great about working from home is that sure, you have to put in some effortbut you can really curate your interactions to be the best for YOU.


Feeling… blah or uninspired

This happens to the best of us, office or not. The upside to being in an office? Lots of other folks around to talk through the blahs. The upside to work from home? The entire world is your inspiration. And so is your space.

Similar to socializing intentionally, when you’re at home, you can plan your space however is most inspiring to you. Even if you’re not likely to have clients or coworkers in your workspace, you don’t want to be stuck staring at institutional-looking walls all day, so be creative! The sky’s the limit, from painting everything Baker-Miller Pink to any number of sophisticated options. Try adding productivity-boosting music (check out this list from HubSpot). There’s no shortage of home office porn online, so have fun with it!


Watch out for time-suckers

Coworker chit-chat is almost definitely curbed when you can’t just walk into your neighbor’s office (although instant messaging can work similarly). We suggested social media for productive networking and socializing, but of course there’s the risk of finding yourself three years back in your cousin’s Instagram feed to find a picture of an impressively-sized squash for… reasons.  


Have you moved today?

We all know that sitting in front of a computer for eight hours (or more) per day has major health drawbacks. There can be fewer “natural” interruptions when you’re in your own home, so if you’re feeling distractedly stir-crazy, get up and get out! A quick walk or a change of scenery can help reinvigorate you and improve focus.

There are lots of other strategies you can incorporate into your day to break up time AND get movingthe important part is that you do it.



What stress? I work at home!

But of course some stress is unavoidable. A big source when you aren’t in an office can be time and project managementyou have deadlines, timelines, etc., but the only person really monitoring progress is YOU. In fact, sometimes you can spend a TON of time on a project, only to scrap it and change directionbut if nobody sees the original work, did it even happen?

The solution, for the most part? You need to plan and track, and you need a strategy for checking in. We’ve all had the experience of being incredibly busy last week, and then trying to document what exactly you were busy doing. Which is stressful in itself! Do yourself a favor and investigate options for setting and tracking goalswhether using apps or manually with tools like Bullet Journal or or BestSelf.

And finally? Have fun! Enjoy the benefits your work from home setup offers.


Thoughts or insights? Let us know in the comments!

Let’s Talk About: Moodboards

Feeling frustrated? We’ll help you avoid some common moodboard pitfalls.

We published “How To Make a Moodboard” about a year ago, but it’s such a popular topic, we thought we’d revisit it—this time with some pointers on how to get inspired, and some moodboard pitfalls to avoid.

As we discussed, moodboards aren’t intended to be a definitive, final look or identity for your brand. They’re a starting point, meant to give your ideas some physical characteristics and make sure it’s communicating ONE visual moodnot many interpretations of the same mood.


When is it time to make a moodboard?

Once your brand’s messaging has been determined, you’re probably ready to get into visual identity. It’s a good place to start before you begin logo explorations, fonts, or other more tangible aspects of your visual identity. Your moodboard will help define what the whole brand looks like. Without  this in place, you run the risk of haphazard or mismatched ideas (which will come back to haunt you later on).

Sometimes this can seem like a fluffy activity when you already have a logo in mind, you know your colorsmaybe a couple of colors, and you have your font picked out. But similar to really pausing to spend time on your messaging, truly visualizing each element together will help you avoid annoying conflict further down the road. We’re going to go over some pointers and common moodboard pitfalls to help you along the way!



Be fearless! This is a time to be creative behind the scenes, so nothing is off-limits. Do you have a logo you absolutely love? Here’s your chance to see what about it might fit into your brand image without worrying about copyright.

Think outside the box (the box is a Google Image search). Again, nothing is off-limits. Do you have a favorite Instagram account, an image on your phone, a famous photograph, a statue, an exhibit? Is there a person or place that evokes your brand’s message? No matter how disparate, any of these can serve as inspiration.

It’s not just color. The term “moodboard” might bring to mind carefully curated, monochromatic Pinterest boards. We get itpink, pink, pink. This is also a place where you can play with something that can be overlooked: pattern. Some of the most famous brands in fashion make exquisite use of patternthink of a brand like Burberry’s iconic check pattern. You don’t need any more visual information than that pattern to know exactly what you’re looking at (and they’re aiming to keep it that way).


Moodboard Pitfalls

Being overly detailed. Sure, you want to capture as much as you canbut this isn’t the final, definitive iteration of your brand’s image. True to its name, the moodboard is helping establish you brand’s moodnot its technical intricacies. That comes later.

Speaking of technical… this isn’t the stage where you want to take your brand platform and create a literal visual interpretation. Your goal is to try to capture “attributes”things like “wise” or “graceful” as opposed to, say, a Caretaker avatar. This is an abstract processwhat does “wise” look like? You can see how this is easily open to interpretation, which makes solidifying that image all the more important.

Limiting your scope. There are lots of tools out there (we mentioned some in the previous article) for creating moodboards, and they can be helpful tools—but recognize they have limitations. You can easily assemble something on a site like Canva or Pinterest, but to truly put it together, you may be best off enlisting the help of a professional. In the same vein, you want to be aware of your target market and competitorsbut you don’t want to mimic them too closely.


Moodboards are an essential place to get creative juices flowing, but not at all a final product. They may even surprise youwhen you begin to put your ideas together, It might not look like what you expect

We hope you found this helpful! As always, let us know in the comments.

Five brands that will make you rethink color in branding

Brand color doesn’t mean anything on its own.

Q: What does your brand color mean?



Shocking, we know. We get this question all the time. What is the meaning of purple? Or blue? How about CERULEAN blue? Is periwinkle even blue?

Like fonts. graphic design, writing, photography, and other creative aspects of branding, there’s just enough information on brand color on the internet to make anyone, well, somewhat dangerous.

You have probably found yourself in a conversations where someone wants to tell you all about fonts after seeing Helvetica once, or who recently bought their first DSLR camera and suddenly has a watermark on their Instagram photos.


Maybe you know this person. Maybe this person is actually a Google search, and you’re overwhelmed by results like:



Avoid! Red means anger and danger. Sometimes it means warmth. Sometimes it means TOO HOT! Sometimes it means passion. You don’t want to be too passionate, though. And sometimes red makes you hungry. But how can you be hungry when you’ve got so many conflicting feelings?

VERDICT: Avoid red at all costs, it’s too difficult. Except when it’s not. Are you hot? I’m hot.



Bright! Fun!  Energetic! Enthusiastic! Childlike! …you don’t want to seem like a child, do you? Or the Home Depot? Also “healing” I guess?

VERDICT: Only use if your brand is childlike, but proficient in home improvement.



It’s the color of sunshine. Bright, warm, inviting, hope, fun, happiness, optimism. Yellow’s a winner! Let’s all use yellow. (5 minutes later) Nobody can read this.

VERDICT: Yellow’s a winner, especially when you don’t want anyone to actually read any of your copy.



Green has to be a safe bet. That’s the color of nature. And money. Prosperity and abundance! And… banking. Fertility?

VERDICT: I’m tired.


And so on. But we at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE implore you to think about this in context. For example, if you saw a beautifully painted baby pink rhinoceros running at you at 34 miles per hour, would you think it’s cute?

If someone handed you a ratty forest-green sweatshirt, would your first thought be “Ah… money”?

How about a dyed-red ice cube (hey, stranger things have happened). Could you think about heat and passion while it’s melting in your hand?

Let’s look at a few examples of brand color that have flipped the script:


Thomas Pink:  Would baby pink be the expected choice for masculine clothing? Maybe not, but it works!

Hermès: There’s nothing childlike about this luxury brand’s bold, brash orange.

Vans: Using bold red, black, and white, this brand is breaking out of its skateboarder stage.

Milk Makeup: “You can’t use the whole rainbow”, they said, but Milk paired it with clean grey and white for a surprisingly understated look.

by Chloe: Stark black and white allows the rainbow of colors to shine at this vegan eatery.


So now you know: your brand’s color can’t be decided out of its visual context. A color isn’t a “concept” all on its own.

Are you brand building —or baiting?

Is your brand lying to your customers?

To over-sell or under sell? That is the questionright? We want to get our brand to the widest audience humanly possible, but we don’t want contort our brand so much that it’s unrecognizable. Or worsethat it looks like something it’s not. Properly branding your company helps you avoid what we’re calling “brand baiting”, or, bluntly, branding lies.

Here’s the thing: have you ever bought something that you THOUGHT was cashmere, only to get home and discover that it was polyester? Have you ever bought something from a company that LOOKED like your favorite brand, only to discover later on that it was a cheap knock-off?

Us too!

…it sucks.

Think for a second about how you feel when you realize you were duped. Mad, sad, evaluating whether or not it’s worth trying to get your money back. The company got the sale, right? Right.  Are you going to spend another penny with that company?

A b s o l u t e l y not. And you’re probably not going to stay quiet about itwhat might have once been a low-key gripe to your friends and family can now be broadcast instantly and LOUDLY across social media.

You could go viral for all the wrong reasons.

This practice is the exact opposite of brand building. We call it brand baiting, and it’s a terrible idea for anyone that wants more than a one-night-stand with their customers.


So, how do you know if you are doing it? Here are the top 5 ways to figure it out…

    1. Your sales jump then slump. Did you start out strong and full of promise, only to see your revenue dwindle? That could mean you’re promising something people really want, and not delivering. Which leads to the second point.
    2. Your social media is full of complaints. Social media is a goldmine of informationpeople do not hold back. They’ll let you know through poor ratings, and will often detail their experiences with the product itself, their experience with customer service, billing problems, you name it. If you’re seeing a lot of “NOT what I expected!” or “LIES!”, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
    3. Your top Google results are poor reviews.Similar to social media, if your product is on Amazon with poor reviews or any other third-party site, pay attention. People might be buying into one thing but dealing with branding lies.
    4. You’re kind of a one-trick pony. Imitation and deception aren’t long-term strategies – you will be discovered. Even if not, the zeitgeist will change, and you’ll have to change too.
    5. Customer service is overburdened with confusion and complaints. Your customer service will be hit HARD with complaints if your brand is pulling a bait and switch. Customers are incredibly savvy, and, similar to social media, they’ll make their voice known. Listen!


If you suspect you might be dealing with branding lies, accidentally, on purpose, or in-between, it’s time to take control of your message. Discover what you can do to make sure you’re putting the right message into the world.

The Real History of Five of Your Favorite Brands

Your Brand History Doesn’t Have To Tell The Truth All The Time.

Have you ever known someone for a long time, only to discover… she’s an IRL vampire? Or she’s trying to steal your identity, or she’s a former assassin, recently woke up from a four-year coma and is hell-bent on avenging the former lover who tried to kill her on her wedding day?

Or, you know, someone went to the same high school as a friend of yours and you had no idea. Maybe they were at the same Carly Rae Jepsen concert as you last year, and you bond over it.

Once you find out, don’t they become a little more interesting?

Grab the popcorn, because this week we’re talking about some of the brands you think you know – but you have no idea.  


Banana Republic

Today, most people think of Banana Republic as a purveyor of conservative office wear, mall staple, and the spendy older sister to the Gap.

But what’s up with the name “Banana Republic”? The term itself comes from O. Henry’s collection of short stories, Cabbages and Kings. The term suggests a rural, tropical country that depends financially on agriculture. In Henry’s story, foreign fruit importers have more influence than the country’s own government.

Banana Republic, the company, started in 1979 as an outlet for co-founder Patricia Ziegler’s modified army surplus clothing. By 1983, the company was a thriving catalog business with two Bay Area stores. At this point, the Gap purchased the brand, bringing the store into malls across America. These stores looked nothing like the Banana Republic of today – thanks to the Indiana Jones franchise, America was, ahem, bananas for the safari aesthetic, and the stores were festooned with items like Jeeps, giraffes, and tusks.

It’s a far cry from today’s conservative minimalism imposed by the Gap.


Duncan Hines

That red-boxed mix you reach for when you need cupcakes—stat? It seems like it’s always been there for you. But would you guess Duncan Hines himself was a traveling salesman who could barely cook? It’s true!

As a traveling salesman in the 1920s-40s, Hines didn’t exactly have access to Yelp. He documented locations and reviews of hidden ice cream stands, barbecue joints, and diners along his travels until friends and family started begging him to share his list. He did, in 1936, in the form of the self-published Adventures in Good Eating. He continued updating the volume until his death in 1954.

Hines himself never made cake mix. “Recommended by Duncan Hines” was the Zagat rating of the time, with signs appearing in windows of restaurants who earned the honor. In 1952, he signed off on the approval appearing on things like ice cream and cake mixes, and in 1959, Procter & Gamble bought the franchise.

So yes: Duncan Hines was a real person, but no, he wasn’t a baker at all.



Today, Madewell is the vintage-inflected little sister to J. Crew. “Founded in 1937” is part of their branding, but the Madewell that was founded in 1937 was actually a men’s workwear brand selling no-frills workwear to the fishermen and manufacturers of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Back in 2014, Buzzfeed published a story from the great-grandson of the founder of Madewell. “We don’t do too much of that designing bullshit,” the author’s great-uncle stated, and his great-grandfather’s motivation was profit. Quality was what drove profit.

Mickey Drexel, CEO of J. Crew in 2014 (and instrumental in Banana Republic’s above transformation), acquired the logo and trademark and used it to create a vintage narrative for a very new brand, and it was a success – superseding it’s big sister, J. Crew, in profits.



Also in the old-story-new-brand vein, Shinola’s “Built in Detroit” watches are worlds away from the brand’s shoe-polish origins. Bicycles, headphones, leather goods, journals – all items sold under the name famous in part for the WWII era insult “you don’t know shit from Shinola”.

Similar to Madewell, Shinola looks nothing like it did originally—a shoe polish company founded in Rochester, NY. The brand today revitalizes a long-dead company’s history in order to tell a more compelling story to its consumers, who crave depth and old-world working-class authenticity.

And it works. Shinola has a fan in Bill Clinton, who purchased 14 watches from them in 2014.



While we commonly associate Volkswagen with the friendly-looking Beetle of the peace-loving 60s, the brand’s origin is significantly darker. Founded in Germany in 1937 with a name that translates to “the people’s car”, Adolf Hitler commissioned Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) to create a cheap vehicle designed to carry two adults and three children at 60 MPH, costing the same as a motorbike. The vehicle was sold via a monthly subscription, but production was halted with the outbreak of WWII. The brand shifted to producing war vehicles using concentration camp labor through 1945. (I told you it was dark).

The Beetle sold well through the 60s, but sales began to slump in the 70s. The company introduced new models and continued to grow. By 2014, Volkswagen was one of the biggest firms in the world. Today, the brand is recovering from the revelation that they rigged emissions tests for diesel vehicles.


Branding isn’t about telling the absolute, transparent truth about yourself at all times—it’s more like reality TV. If your storytelling is compelling, it’s selling. If your brand’s story feels more like it’s too busy telling its own story to actually convert, it might be time to audit.