Brain Sinew

17 May 2020

Organizations are faced with challenges every day. Some are expected and resolved through the normal course of business – a problem is identified, the team brainstorms, and a solution is implemented. Other challenges are unexpected and feel more like a fire drill – drop everything you’re working on and head for the exits! While well-run companies often succeed in meeting day-to-day challenges, one of the most significant potential roadblocks any organization faces is the ability to proactively identify and implement critical changes.

What do critical changes look like?

I often describe them as the overlooked changes most leaders resist because they feel like you’re altering something that isn’t broken. Critical changes take on a variety of appearances, but an increasingly important challenge all companies must address is the need to evolve brand identity over time. Highly visible, time-tested companies often demonstrate strong willingness to adapt and remain flexible, while positioning their brands for success across increasingly competitive and consistently changing business environments.  

Challenging occasions also promote healthy organizational responses as well. These moments often allow leaders to imagine the future and build successful strategies. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients who are facing their own critical challenges, frequently attributed to changing technology, consumer spending habits, and product/service expansion. While company leaders spend most of their time developing and implementing specific plans to achieve success, the organization’s brand identity is rarely incorporated within this roadmap. Brand adaptation should be an integral part of an organization’s long-term strategic plan, and periodic brand-shifts can better communicate the company’s products, services, and experiences.

I’ve briefly outlined three examples of recent brand-shifts by well-known companies with strong industry market share to illustrate the importance of brand adaptation.  

Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. 

Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. recently updated its historic logo. The company was founded as a leader in the film industry, but has diversified into animation, television, and video games over time. The new brand identity allows the company to enhance performance across its various platforms, and is intentional about appealing to a new generation. 

“As we approached our centennial, we thought it was the right time to take a good look at our brand, what it stands for and the values it represents,” said Sarnoff. “We know that a strong brand gives us not just a roadmap but a sense of purpose. It puts our feelings of pride into words. And, it helps us communicate who we are to our employees, our creative and business partners, and our fans around the world.”

Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. Chair and CEO

GoDaddy, Inc. 

GoDaddy, Inc. is an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company. They recently revamped their brand identity to communicate their expanded product offerings, reach a wider audience, and better communicate their story. The “GO” logo is intended to convey the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit, joy, and humanity as customers create and manage their own websites. 

“The GO says to our community that they can stand on their own two feet and go do what they love. When entrepreneurs see the GO, they know they have someone standing in their corner, championing their every step along the way, to turn their ideas into reality.”

Cameron Scott, GoDaddy Chief Brand Officer

Rite Aid Corporation

Rite Aid Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that has been in business for almost 60 years. Over time, the company has built significant brand equity, but recently decided to drop the word “pharmacy” from its name while completing a brand refresh. Company leaders recognized the opportunity to expand its reach within the highly competitive retail industry, while introducing themselves to a younger generation. 

“Rite Aid is a business in the midst of a turnaround, and it is time for a radical change. This is not business as usual at Rite Aid. We have the unique opportunity to serve a growing customer base and strengthen the power of our iconic brand.”

Heyward Donigan, Rite Aid President and CEO

Lets try it.

One example of an organization that could benefit from a brand adaptation is Orangetheory Fitness, a fitness chain with over 1,200 studios across all 50 U.S. states and 23 countries. Orangetheory is a successful company that’s been in business for 10 years and recently surpassed $1 billion in sales with over one million members.  

While this company has built strong brand equity and a successful business model, I wanted to propose several foundational changes for the brand that could better position the organization for the future. The current logo doesn’t explain what the company offers and the eyes are drawn to the unique “O” which also provides confusion. My guess is that the overall design probably has limitations for optimal use across a variety of digital platforms. 

As part of my review, I propose the following to evolve the Orangetheory Fitness brand:

  1. Simplification: By simplifying the name and wordmark, the brand image would reflect maturity and modern aesthetic to appeal to both current and younger demographics. Simplification will also allow the logo to scale and perform better in smaller spaces.
  2. Story: With an intentional logo design that aligns with their vision, the company can convey their unique story beyond the service. Ideally, the logo would resonate with their target audience and create brand distinction.
  3. Flexibility: Simplifying the name and altering the logo design would provide maximum flexibility to offer different products and services as the company continues to grow within its industry.

01 Simplification

Simplify the name and wordmark design

I propose removing the word “fitness” from the current name to simplify the image and provide the company with the freedom for future expansion. This move would allow the brand to extend to other products and services in the industry, without limiting themselves to one particular fitness service.  

I also propose modifying the unique “O” in “Orange” and design a custom wordmark, which will both simplify and modernize the brand. This new look also reflects the company’s strength, athleticism, and resilience as a leader in the health and fitness industry. 

02 Story

Tell their story and make it memorable

One of the quickest and most memorable ways to build brand awareness and customer retention is through the organization’s story. The brain’s ability to connect with the familiar builds connections that last. This proposed logo introduces the idea of OrangeTheory’s mission to “metabolically charge the body.” When the body is metabolically charged during and after a workout, clients will see results – which is ultimately what they expect.

How does the logo design tell OrangeTheory’s story? 

  1. Increase: The arrow symbolizes the increasing metabolic charge in the body, which allows clients to increase physical fitness and achieve results. These results empower the individual to become their best inside and outside of the gym.
  2. Human: Access to health information, guidance, and activities should be available to everyone. The illustration reinforces the company’s focus on individual goals and transforming the body.
  3. Transformation: The blossoming flower represents transformation of mind and body, and the process that involves.

04 Flexibility

Create a path for future expansion

By simplifying, modernizing, and maturing the brand, OrangeTheory could position themselves to expand their products and services in the future. Additional offerings could include virtual training, online health and nutritional coaching, supplements, prepared foods, apparel, and fitness equipment that could be delivered to their customers’ doorsteps.

Consistent messaging through all applications would also be greatly beneficial. I propose a vision-based mission statement and tagline that build upon the brand story. This type of messaging will also provide a bigger picture and sense of corporate values to our audience.

We help our athletes become the best version of themselves.

Vision-based mission statement

More life.


In essence, we’re saying OrangeTheory helps customers achieve their health goals, so they can be the best individual in other areas of their life.

How about your company? 

Every brand benefits from adaptation in some capacity. While not all brand-shifts require significant changes, critical adjustments during challenging times may present the greatest opportunities for future success. Take time to consider your company’s story. Recall how it all started, and what makes you passionate about what you do and what services you provide. Remember the challenges, success stories, and lessons learned. The business environment is rapidly changing, and we are all learning to adapt. Has your brand identity kept pace? I can’t think of a better time to address our current challenges head-on, and orient your company for a successful future. Perhaps the story is just now getting exciting.

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