The lifecycle of a brand is one of constant evolution. Brands begin at a basic starting point and often change or adapt based on new improvements, information, and customer expectations.
Many of the changes that a brand experiences over time are positive and reflect success, growth, and flexibility.
There are no predetermined rules for when an existing brand has to take the leap and rebrand. After all, business looks different for everyone.
While that’s the case, it’s also helpful to be prepared for that moment when your brand needs a little creative boost.
In this post, we’re giving a comprehensive crash course on how to refresh or revitalize your brand.
You’ll learn how to tell the difference between refreshes and rebrands, how to spot the advantages and risks, and how to spot a great rebranding effort when you see one in the wild.
What is a Brand Refresh?
What it is: A brand refresh is a strategic, intentional facelift for your brand. In a refresh process, your main goal is to revitalize, modernize, and update the visual look and aesthetic of your brand.
You might give your brand a refresh when the logo design, visual imagery, or messaging is outdated or falling short of your competitors. The refresh becomes part of a comprehensive plan to boost business and remove any factors that could contribute to stagnation or lack of growth.
A brand refresh keeps the core functions of a brand or business the same, while allowing that brand to open a new chapter in its story. This is often done to keep pace with similar offerings in your industry.
What it’s not: A brand refresh isn’t the time or place to tackle deeply rooted organizational problems. If you need to solve major cultural issues, improve product architecture, or rewrite the organization’s infrastructure, these steps should happen separately.
Refresh vs. Rebrand
What it is: A rebrand is a complete repositioning of your business or organization. Rebrands usher in a new chapter of growth, and they provide a way for established businesses to pivot and introduce a new service, product, or way of doing things.
A rebrand often introduces similar visual changes as a brand refresh. This is because the brand typically wants to be recognized for something new, exciting, and different.
What it’s not: A rebrand is not a quick decision that happens with a few graphic design changes. It is strategic, well-planned, and purposeful.
Rebrands are also not shy or tentative. When launching a full-scale rebrand, it’s important to build some fanfare and excitement for the changes that are to come.
Why Does Your Brand Need a Refresh?
A brand refresh is like offering a “new and improved” makeover of your current brand. While it’s not as sweeping as a total rebrand, it requires work and preparation. Any refresh initiative should always satisfy the following criteria.
- Offers a more modern and updated visual look
- Improves an identifiable piece of the existing brand, such as the logo
- Optimizes brand messaging to align the brand with its next chapter
- Sets the stage (visually) for greater and more impactful changes at a later time
When Should You Consider a Refresh?
There are many reasons why your leadership team, marketing department, or other stakeholders start to set the stage for a rebrand.
Here are some of the most common scenarios:
- Your brand is clearly and obviously outdated. Graphics and design trends change. If it’s been over five years since you looked carefully at the stylistic elements of your brand, it might be time to consider a new approach or look.
- Your competitors are outpacing you in brand design. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but you should consider a refresh when your newer, more modern competitors clearly have the upper hand in branding.
- Your customer base has moved, shifted, or changed expectations. As your business grows, the type of customers and clients you attract might also change. It’s wise to be deeply in tune with how these individuals perceive your growing business. Keeping things fresh can align your brand with new, more contemporary expectations.
- You’ve learned more about your business. As individuals, we don’t remain the same from the time we’re 30 until we’re in our 50s or 60s. In similar fashion, you shouldn’t expect that your business will always be exactly as it was on the first day! Take what you’ve learned and actually apply it. A refresh gives you the amazing opportunity to do just that.
Advantages and Benefits of a Brand Refresh
If you’re still on the fence about a refresh, take some time to consider the advantages of a brand refresh and how it could positively change the trajectory of your organization.
- Sets your company up for future success—When building your business, you don’t want to look in the rearview mirror. Instead, look forward to growth and change. A refresh introduces a new chapter, whether that means more growth, expanded profits, or a better long-term vision.
- Allows you to stay savvy in the market – Static businesses are bound to fall behind at some point. This is because other brands will innovate. If you want your brand to stay on top, keep pace with competitors.
- Establishes your expertise or thought leadership – With online and digital information sources, consumers have access to more data about brands than ever before. A creative refresh or boost can be the missing piece to establishing your brand as a leader in your current industry. In the future, this means even more customers will turn to you for a solution.
Risks of a Brand Refresh
Before you dive headfirst into the brand refresh process, carefully weigh the potential risks or disadvantages. While you might know and appreciate the need for a change, thinking about the process from everyone’s perspective can help you adequately prepare for pushback or negativity.
- Internal feedback or lack of support – Keep in mind that some team members might love your current brand or be resistant to any form of change. While you may not choose to let this sway your final decision, provide space for these individuals to feel seen and heard. If there are any major red flags (that prove to be true), incorporate those into your plans.
- Long-term customers may not recognize the brand assets as quickly – Loyal customers may purchase or follow your brand on autopilot. Although this is perfect for repeat business, it means that they may be slower to catch on when something as identifiable as your logo changes.
- Need for excellent communication or publicity – One of the most significant things you can do to generate buy-in is to be publicly excited for your brand’s new image. Don’t make the mistake of refreshing your brand and going radio silent on platforms like social media. Although the need for great communication isn’t necessarily a disadvantage (when done correctly), it does highlight the need to appoint someone to fill that gap.
Steps to Follow for a Seamless Brand Refresh
The brand refresh process should be highly customized to your organization, brand, or business. Any potential changes must always reflect your unique set of values and standards.
To help you create an easy-to-follow blueprint, we’ve broken down the most basic steps into this 5-step list.
- Perform an internal audit. You can’t know where you’re going without understanding where you are. During the audit process, meet with key players and ask detailed questions about whether your brand is meeting the mark. Ask for creative feedback on ways to improve.
- Engage with customers. Do you really know your current customer base? Dig into the data that’s available. When possible, construct buyer personas that specifically address what these individuals expect to see when they engage with your brand.
- Know your competitors. Refreshing your brand is more challenging if you aren’t sure what you’re up against. Pull samples of both effective and ineffective brand styles, logos, and messaging strategies. Brainstorm with your team how you can move beyond these examples and introduce something innovative.
- Decide on deliverables and assets. Which aspects of your brand should be included in the initial refresh? Do you want to launch a new logo, or simply adjust a few elements of your color palette? While there is no right or wrong answer, you must be prepared to delegate the appropriate tasks to the right people.
- Create your roll-out plan. Any refresh needs a plan for launch. You’ve done the legwork, and now it’s time to go public. What will it look like when rubber meets the road? Don’t forget to test and run quality assurance before going live.
4 Brand Refresh Examples
In the examples below, we’ll point out the subtle and unique ways that these recognizable modern brands used a refresh to their advantage. Look for ways that you can incorporate the same principles into your upcoming refresh.
Starbucks updated its logo to reflect a more modern, minimal, and simplified graphic approach. Darker colors and text were removed in exchange for a basic image that coffee drinkers can spot and identify instantly.
Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms in modern use, updated its logo from a literal camera to a more colorful and streamlined version. This relaunch also ushered in newer features that appealed to the next generation of users.
Retail and restaurant brands often go through brand resets in order to stay modern and competitive. This often includes taking a traditional and retro appearance and adapting it to modern fonts and images. At the same time, many well-established businesses can benefit from incorporating some nostalgic elements that an older generation of customers easily recognize.
When Airbnb refreshed its logo, it went a step beyond graphics. Instead, they incorporated their values into a recognizable asset. The effects of this move include better visibility and loyalty, particularly as it relates to corporate identity and consumer trust.
Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what step your brand or business should take next. If you’ve been on the fence about your next strategy, a brand refresh or rebrand could be exactly what you need to invoke life and creativity into your brand.
When you’re equipped with the right knowledge, tools, and support, you can make more informed decisions to get your brand where you want to go.
The award-winning team at Ignite Visibility is here to help you navigate all things marketing, media, design, and development. Check out our services to learn how we can help!