How to decide if it’s time for a rebrand or a refresh

 In Blog, Brand & Logo Design Tips, Strategy & Improvement Tips

This article will help you:

Determine whether a brand refresh or a rebrand is better for your business

From delivering audience-focused videos to connecting your product to personable and happy memories, great branding can have an incredible impact on your business.

Think about it. You hear “I’m lovin’ it” and think of a Big Mac, or see that iconic robin’s-egg blue box and imagine the luxury of Tiffany’s, right?

These brands have built a rock-solid brand identity in a way that showcases the essence of their business.

Done well, brand identity sets you apart from your competition, humanizes your organization, builds deep connections with your customers, and creates a recognizable narrative around your core values and customer promise.

How do you know if your current brand identity is working?

Consider asking a few key questions (or getting an expert opinion) to find the answers. Questions include:

  1. Does the visual personality surrounding your brand feel tired or out of style?
  2. Does your ‘just OK’ brand look generic or boring when compared to your competitor brands
  3. How does your branding, logo, and color palette compare to more newly released products and services?
  4. Are you anticipating any significant organizational changes or new growth?
  5. Are you considering selling your business or expanding soon?

Considering these questions is essential when determining your brand’s next big step. Weigh your present situation, your hopes for your business’s future with your current audience, and what you may risk losing if too much changes too quickly.

Let’s compare the pros and cons of a brand refresh and a complete rebrand to help you make the best decision for your business.

Brand refresh vs. rebrand

Two doors

A brand refresh is a strategic move to strengthen your brand’s identity while realigning your image to better fit current trends or new changes in your audience.

A refresh is an ideal step for someone tied to their existing brand but feels something is missing.

A total rebrand, on the other hand, is more of a clean slate.

Within reason, the sky’s the limit as you consider a complete overhaul of your brand identity, including a new name, different tone, revamped social accounts, a new website design, and marketing materials.

Both options require a decent amount of effort, and both come with specific risk factors, including potentially alienating your current audience or erasing any existing brand recognition.

However, the right rebrand or refresh strategy can make all the difference when it’s time for a change.

When to consider a brand refresh

It’s more of a risk for a business to remain stagnant than to attempt a change to its marketing strategy.

Different situations may call for varying changes, but businesses looking to refresh their brand identity often change elements such as:

  • Font style
  • Color palette
  • Logo elements
  • Brand slogan
  • Writing style or voice

While the needs and strategies will differ based on individual business goals, here are a few typical situations that may lead to a brand refresh.

  1. Expanding marketing collateral

    As your business grows, so will your exposure on different platforms and mediums.

    This is the moment when it’s pivotal to look at your organization’s branding as a whole and search for ways to incorporate flexibility into your identity.

    By preemptively considering how your brand is seen across different marketing tools, like brochures, podcasts, and social media posts, you are building the flexibility needed for any growing business.

    Ask yourself, what does my brand look like when it shows up on a new platform? What do I want it to look like? You may want to consider a brand refresh if the answers aren’t harmonious.

  2. Capitalizing on brand recognition

    If your current brand already has a good amount of recognition, especially within your ideal audience, you’ll want to avoid a complete rebrand.

    Capitalize on your current brand recognition by using new projects and marketing opportunities to launch your brand further. If, for example, you feel that your brand is well-established online and across social platforms, but you’ve never created a piece of printed content before, then you may be looking for ways for your new content to stand out.

    This can be an ideal opportunity to maintain your brand’s core look and feel and sustain your brand recognition while still incorporating new elements that liven up your strategy.

  3. Growing business

    If your organization expands, you’re probably facing an excellent opportunity to refresh your branding.

    A visual change that mirrors the positive, internal changes happening in your business not only clues your audience into your business’s growth but creates a sense of confidence and control surrounding your company’s future.

    Consider a home getting an upgrade, like a new back porch or extended bedroom. The foundation isn’t changing, but the overall project is expanding and adapting to fit the needs of the current situation.

    You should add to your existing brand system when growing your business internally. This includes new iconography or sub-brands highlighting new products or service lines.

    You can emphasize positive change by getting creative with updated branding, all while staying true to your original, core brand.

When to consider rebranding

A complete rebrand may be scary, but it’s also an exciting opportunity.

Several instances can lead you to rebrand, including major changes to your business model or discovering that the strategy isn’t working.

Whatever the case, rebranding typically looks like a series of substantial changes that can breathe new life into a potentially struggling company. While specific processes will vary, most businesses change elements like:

  • Brand values
  • Brand guidelines
  • Brand positioning
  • Mission and vision statements

Rebranding your organization is a considerable commitment and must be followed through to the end, so knowing when and if to start can be intimidating.

Here are a few situations that may call for a rebranding strategy.

  1. Major business changes

    Sometimes, opportunities that require significant change come along.

    If you plan on purchasing another company with hopes of merging it with your current business, you will need a cohesive brand identity.

    Similarly, rebranding can be a great way to reposition your current business for a higher value if you are looking to sell your business. This can include updating outdated visuals, disassociating the company’s branding from current high-level executives, or developing a clean slate for potential buyers.

  2. Well-established institutions with outdated branding

    Companies that have seen success and have been around for a while may fall victim to outdated branding.

    There is value in established branding, but it’s important to always position yourself in a way that encourages your audience to trust your business.

    Rebranding your long-standing organization can help consumers know you’re invested in innovation and staying current.

  3. Something doesn’t feel right

    This situation primarily relies on your gut feeling and understanding your long-term goals.

    Do you feel proud when you look at your branding, logo, colors, and slogans?

    Does it represent the personality of your business and reflect your mission statement?

    Branding can change everything for a business. Although rebranding may feel daunting, it’s time to explore a change if you’re unsatisfied with your current brand or how your business is perceived.

Final thoughts

If you’re committed to your brand identity, a refresh or rebranding strategy can seem like starting over.

But when a change needs to be made, when you’re not seeing improvements or growth, and you’re unhappy with how your business is presented, an adjustment to your branding strategy can be a real game-changer.

Remember, progress is never a straight line, and any step towards bettering your organization is a step up.

Key takeaways

  • A brand refresh is ideal for anyone happy with the core of their branding but looking to liven up their collateral and keep up with changing business trends.
  • A complete rebrand is better for businesses facing significant internal changes, long-standing organizations with outdated designs, or those who were never happy with their original brand.
  • Brand changes are made easier with the help of a design partner who can pinpoint areas where your current strategy is lacking and can aid in brainstorming new tactics and design choices.

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