You might notice some commonalities among large company rebrands in 2019. Or rather, you might not have noticed they rebranded at all. And that’s exactly the strategy they share. In 2019, many large heritage companies went for what you might call a brand refresh rather than a redo; making small design shifts in the service of function in the digital space, and for a more performative brand across platforms. To make a haircut metaphor: major companies all opted for trims that might make you ask, “Did you do something different?” No one went for full-on bangs. Let’s take a look at just a few of the brands that have adopted this strategy of incrementalism, opting for a touch-up rather than an overhaul.

[Image: Ikea]


The Swedish furniture company underwent a few brand changes over the past year, beginning with its classic blue-on-yellow logo lockup in April 2019. Stockholm-based Seventy Agency adjusted the type to increase digital legibility by enlarging the negative space between the forms of each letter, like the lines that make up the E and the counter, or triangular hole in the letter A. Meanwhile the curved serifs of each letter were reduced, making each letter feel even more blocky. The brand name itself was enlarged within the yellow oval shape behind it.

Really, if you’re adapting to the digital age now, you’re late to the game. ”

A month later, Ikea shared further developments in what it called its “logo evolution,” with the release of the new logo system called Fönster. This is a fitting way to describe the process, as the changes are so slight, the adjustments could be comparable to the scientific process itself. 72andSunny iterated on the original blue-and-yellow logo consumers are familiar with to create one that would be flexible enough to work in tandem with an array of digital content. So, the agency gave the lockup a transparent background and made the type white—essentially making it a window into whatever image was placed behind it. The move met an opportunity to brand lifestyle and social media images in a subtle way, and allowed the company to meet consumers where they are: on their couches.

[Image: courtesy PBS]


In early November, the PBS logo lockup got a facelift, too. The 50-year-old public broadcaster has over 300 independent local affiliate channels and a reach of more than 215 million viewers who watch it via traditional television. It was ranked one of the most trusted institutions in 2019, according to Marketing & Research Resources. It has brand appeal. And any change in the logo had to fill  two needs: help the brand deliver on its growth strategy beyond TV by creating visual cohesion across its burgeoning digital platforms, and oh yeah, be broadly appealing without being boring.

Connie Birdsall and her team at Lippincott accomplished this in a few ways. First, the team had to make the logo be quickly identifiable no matter where it was seen. To do so, the Lippincott team built upon the logo created by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv in 2009 and created a standard look that began with a new, proprietary color: bright blue. They made other slight adjustments to simplify the lockup as well: the typography was simplified and enlarged to equal the size of the head within the inner circle. The head’s eyes were enlarged, and its nose was adjusted to tilt the gaze upward. The type and head as a unit were enlarged too, just like the IKEA logo a bit earlier in the year.

[Image: courtesy Pentagram]

Warner Bros. Studios

This one is another example of a logo having to serve two seemingly opposing functions: be highly adaptable and yet maintain strong recognizability—whether as an icon that’s 1 centimeter wide or opening on an 80-foot wide screen. What’s more, the shield logo is iconic. So Emily Oberman and her team at Pentagram again made small shifts to modernize an icon of the last century for the 21st century.

Like PBS, the Warner Bros. Studio key logo took on a bright blue color. And like Ikea’s Fönster logo system, the Warner Bros. shield was developed so it too, could be a window to introduce secondary content and color palettes, like that of a movie’s individual branding. The WB letterforms were heightened and thinned out, and the shield was attenuated to the Golden Ratio. The Pentagram team also developed an original Warner Bros. Sans typeface, so that the brand was felt even without the logo. For DeeDee Myers, Warner Bros. Studios’ executive vice president of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, the results of many slight changes “connected [the brand] to the past, but with eyes firmly ahead.”

[Image: courtesy Twitch]


We start to see the same model on a smaller scale with Twitch, the gaming and streaming platform owned by Amazon. But it was solving for the opposite problem of heritage brands like PBS and Warner Bros. Studios: As a 9-year-old live streaming service, it has a successful digital business model. So the company’s not exactly archaic. This rebrand was more “an attempt at corporate maturation,” Fast Company reported in September 2019. But it had many of the same goals relative to both customization and consistency, so with assistance from New York-based creative agency Collins, the creative team at Twitch streamlined and simplified the branding system in many of the same ways as heritage brands did this year.

Twitch became more visually adaptive as a brand by first making small adjustments to its key logo: The team filled in the transparent body of the blocky letterforms with white, thinned out the outline of each letterform, simplified the drop shadow for a cleaner look, and recolored all those ancillary components in black for high contrast. It then went a step further by making two additional logos: a two-tone extruded logo that users can co-brand based on their personal Twitch landing pages, and their pièce de résistance—an animated three-tone rainbow version of the mark as a visual indication of company voice.

How many decades of margin do we allow brands to adapt to a century that we’re a fifth of the way through? ”

Adaptive Logos Are Nothing New

Of course, the evolution toward streamlined, adaptive logo marks had already started before 2019. American Express and MasterCard both simplified when Pentagram refreshed their visual looks in 2018 and 2016 respectively. In fact, Pentagram’s case study described the MasterCard project as a “brand identity to emphasize simplicity, connectivity and seamlessness.” MasterCard, which calls itself a “technology company in the payments industry,” took it a step further by removing its name from the logo mark entirely in January 2019. That, of course, makes it easier for MasterCard’s branding to appear recognizable, no matter how small the device you’re viewing it on.

Steve Heller, co-chair of the School of Visual Art’s MFA Design Department, “frankly” doesn’t see the move toward more digital-friendly branding as a trend. Instead he suggests that changes like these are so slight that they’re just part of a brand refresh all heritage brands go through. “We know that heritage brands go in for refresh every so often,” he says. “And we’re two decades into the 21st century, so I’m not surprised that some brands are trying to demonstrate they’re not in mothballs.”

In other words, these slight recalibrations we’re seeing might simply be tactical. All companies with visual identities that have been grandfathered in from the last century will to make these changes if they want to stay afloat. Really, if you’re adapting to the digital age now, you’re late to the game. But you know what they say: better late than never.


At the start of 2019, martech expert Scott Brinker predicted it would be a buyer’s market for marketing tech merger and acquisition deals, ahead of what will be a “Second Golden Age of Martech.” Brinker’s forecast was spot-on with the martech industry seeing 246 mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2019 alone, according to Statista — a dramatic increase from the 162 over the same period in 2018.

It wasn’t only software companies taking part in the martech M&A deals — this year we saw a trend of brands scooping up martech solutions as well. In March, McDonald’s bought Dynamic Yield to personalize digital experiences across its drive-thrus, kiosks and mobile app. A few months later, Nike bought the predictive analytics platform Celect to help forecast how and when consumers purchase certain styles.

While brands were picking up martech solutions to broaden their digital capabilities, social platforms also invested in their fair share of marketing technology: LinkedIn acquired identity resolution platform Drawbridge; Twitter purchased machine learning startup Fabula AI; and Facebook picked up Grokstyle, a visual technology company originally aimed at retailers.

These were the acquisitions and integrations that will continue to shape the ways marketers engage with technology in nearly every aspect of their jobs to serve and attract customers throughout their journeys.

Major martech acquisitions in 2019

  • Salesforce expanded its data visualization capabilities with the acquisition of Tableau for $15.7 billion. The deal delivered more robust tools for users, helping marketers better extract data from the Salesforce CRM platform.
  • Google, looking to enhance its cloud analytics offerings, bought Looker for $2.6 billion. With a client list that included the likes of Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, WPP Essesnce and Yahoo, Looker was a unified data and predictive analytics platform designed for enterprise-sized clients to analyze large datasets across clouds.
  • Microsoft acquired e-commerce advertising vendor PromoteIQ, bringing the automated product marketing platform into its advertising division. The company enabled brand manufacturers to run sponsored ads on participating retailers’ e-commerce sites and offered analytic dashboards tracking campaign performance for retailers and advertisers.
  • Cision expanded its social toolset with the purchase of, adding social management and social listening features to its earned media stack. The deal furthered Cision’s goal to deliver a comprehensive PR solution for marketers and PR professionals.
  • Oracle added new loyalty solutions to its Customer Experience portfolio with the purchase of CrowdTwist, a customer loyalty platform. The deal allowed Oracle to integrate CrowdTwist’s technology into its Responsys, Eloqua and CX Unity platforms.
  • The social media management platform Sprinklr bought Nanigans’ social ad business, raising the total amount of ad spend Sprinklr manages to more than $1.5 billion. The deal included the addition of Nanigans’ data management, predictive analytics, optimization, campaign management and granular real-time reporting for ad business across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Campaign Monitor, which is owned by CM Group, went on a buying spree, purchasing two enterprise marketing solutions: Sailthru, a cross-channel email marketing platform, and Liveclicker, a personalization solution for email marketers. The acquisitions helped round out CM Group’s email marketing platform offerings which already included Delivra and Emma.
  • WP Engine, a WordPress digital experience platform, bulked up its capabilities when it acquired its competitor Flywheel. The deal brought Flywheel’s more than 28,000 clients to WP Engine’s platform and highlighted the growing consolidation trend within the martech industry.
  • Similar to the Sprinklr-Nanigans deal, the video cloud solution Brightcove bought Ooyala’s online video platform business, expanding Brightcove’s video management capabilities and significantly growing its customer base. Brightcove confirmed it was acquiring the online video platform side of Ooyala’s business for $15 million.
  • Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress, purchased blogging platform Tumblr from Verizon Communications for an undisclosed amount. While financial details were not shared, Automattic’s CEO said it was the largest acquisition the company had ever made — both in price and headcount. At the time of the acquisition, Automattic executives said the company was looking at multiple ways to fold Tumblr’s services and functionality into the WordPress platform.
  • Episerver, a digital experience platform, increased its personalization capabilities with the acquisition of Idio, a content intelligence and predictive analytics solution. Shortly after announcing the Idio acquisition, Episerver also purchased Insite Software, a B2B commerce solution.
  • The martech platform Cheetah Digital acquired Wayin Inc., adding so-called “zero-party data” capabilities to its solution. Wayin’s technology, which was integrated into Cheetah Digital’s Marketing Suite and Loyalty platforms, allow marketers to create content like interactive quizzes, questionnaires and games that are aimed at collecting first-and zero-party data from consumers who opt-in to participate.
  • In a move to further its reach into Europe, the multichannel message notification provider Urban Airship bought its EU competitor Accengage. The deal reportedly strengthened Urban Airship’s GDPR compliance capabilities and increased its volume to more than 90 billion notifications per month, a figure that includes in-app notifications, browser-based notifications, mobile wallet engagements, SMS, Facebook Messenger and email notifications.
  • In its first major acquisition in more than two years, Hubspot acquired the integration as a service provider PieSync. The deal gave HubSpot users the ability to sync their data within the HubSpot system in real-time, making it possible to retrieve the most current customer information across whatever apps they have integrated with HubSpot.

Major martech integrations in 2019

Another big trend in the martech industry: integrations across advertising, chat, email and data solutions. Multiple martech platforms expanded their core offerings by partnering with compatible solution providers, integrating analytics dashboards to enhance their data capabilities and adding native connections to remove friction for marketers and advertisers. Here are a number of notable integrations that happened this year:

  • Shopify continued to build out capabilities for e-commerce marketing with new partnerships, adding Apple Business Chat to Shopify Ping, advertising integrations with Facebook, Google, SnapChat and Microsoft as well as email partnerships with Seguno, Omnisend and SMSBump for cross-channel marketing.
  • Adobe’s solution integrations this year included deeper partnerships with Microsoft, Drift, Roku and ServiceNow to bolster its ABM, OTT and customer service solutions. A tie-in for Adobe’s Experience Platform with SAP’s Qualtrics was added in May to help users gather and measure customer feedback across channels.
  • Email automation provider iPost added an integration with Adobe’s Magento commerce cloud to inform email personalization with Magento behavioral and transactional data.
  • Salesforce expanded its partnership with Microsoft, naming Microsoft Azure the public cloud provider for Marketing Cloud. Salesforce also said it planned on adding Microsoft Teams integrations for Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds in the coming months.
  • The CDP Lytics launched an integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud to enable users to view customer insights and execute campaigns between the two platforms. (Lytics also announced an integration with the suite of products in the Google Marketing Platform for ad targeting, analysis and optimization.)
  • HubSpot partnered with Supermetrics, giving users new multi-portal analytics and reporting solutions. With HubSpot’s Google integrations already in place, users can now export the analytics gather via Supermetrics into Google Sheets, Google Data Studio and Excel.
  • Adding its name to a long list of companies upping their messaging abilities, LogMeIn added WhatsApp and WeChat integrations to its Bold360 live chat customer engagement platform. LogMeIn reported it was working to add more channels, including Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messaging.
  • Aiming to improve its ABM capabilities, Oracle Eloqua added a Metadata integration. By integrating Metadata’s technology into its platform, Oracle Eloqua made it possible for B2B users on the platform to automate their social ad campaigns against target accounts in bulk. The integration also made it possible for users to retrieve opt-in inbound leads from ABM campaigns and push them into Oracle Eloqua lists automatically.

Equity firms take their share

One more noticeable shift we saw happening in the industry this year was a number of equity firms taking ownership of marketing technology companies — putting a spotlight on the financial value of established martech platforms.

  • Vista Equity Partners purchased the web management and digital experience company Acquia in a deal valued at $1 billion. The acquisition happened not long after Acquia had purchased two digital experience solutions: Mautic and Cohesion.
  • IBM agreed to sell the remainder of its marketing and commerce software solutions, including the Watson Marketing portfolio, to Centerbridge Partners. The equity firm reported it plans to use the newly acquired solution to form a standalone company that will deliver marketing automation tools, customer experience analytics, AI-powered content management system, personalized search and more.
  • San Antonio-based venture finance and equity firm Scaleworks acquired internal site search provider SearchSpring, a search navigation platform and merchandising technology for DTC companies and websites. The deal represents the firm’s first foray into the e-commerce industry.
  • After spending the last five years gobbling up a number of martech companies, Cision entered an agreement to be acquired by the private equity firm Platinum Equity for $2.74 billion. Gartner analyst Andrew Frank said he believed the deal demonstrates how the industry is moving toward a more solid consolidation phase.

The high volume of marketing technology acquisitions, along with new integrations across martech systems, points to an overarching trend of growth in all-in-one platforms — a move likely to benefit marketers in the long run. As more platforms consolidate and integrate their capabilities, fragmented platforms lacking key features could become a thing of the past.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.