Rebrand vs Refresh: Are You Ready for a Brand Makeover?

The Brand is everything. It is the cornerstone of your business, influencing all your marketing, communication, and product decisions. It represents who you are and how you want your audience to perceive you. But is your visual brand identity in sync with the current times? There are designers and agencies that specialize in refining your brand’s elements like logos, colors, shapes, and fonts to elevate the visual impact. Are you ready to engage? Below is a bit of what you can expect from this exciting process.  

When is the Right Time for a Brand Update? 

As brand, marketing, and communication professionals, you’re intimately familiar with your brand. You see it more than anyone else, which can make it challenging to determine if it’s time for a refresh or if you’re simply tired of the same visual elements. Major changes in your messaging, product offerings, or mission focus can be ideal opportunities to refresh your brand’s visual presentation without alienating your current or future customers. 

Starting from Scratch or a Simple Makeover? 

When considering a brand update, it’s crucial not to lose the brand recognition you’ve worked so hard to build over the years. A brand refresh can often suffice to reignite passion and attract your next customer base. This might involve subtle changes like updating your color palette to something more contemporary, refreshing the logo by removing outdated elements, or switching to a modern, versatile typeface.  Graphic showing a before and after of a refreshed logo for PenMet ParksAdding or removing words and taglines (or creating versions with or without for special use cases) is a great way to implement a new mission/focus or to reinforce your broad product offerings (ex. Dunkin’ Donuts > Dunkin’). Graphic showing four evolutions of the Fearey logoA refresh may also be a good way to expand your brand library to ensure you have elements for use across touchpoints that weren’t a consideration when the original branding was developed such as social profile photos and post templates. However, if you’re ready for a more significant transformation, a complete rebrand with a new logo, colors, and fonts may be in order.  

To decide on the right path forward, engage with a broad range of stakeholders, from internal teams to executives and board members. Achieving alignment ensures that the effort put into developing a new brand isn’t wasted on an idea that gets rejected before implementation. With the right messaging and reasoning behind the rebrand, you can bring your existing customers on board without eroding the trust you’ve built. 

Where to Start 

Begin with the “why.” Why is it time for a change? Why does your current brand presentation no longer meet your needs? These answers will guide the process and exploration. A thorough analysis of your current brand’s strengths and weaknesses is an excellent starting point. Consider brands you admire and why you admire them. Think about what colors convey the message you want to send and what adjectives you’d like customers to associate with your brand. Providing these guidelines will help your brand designers narrow down their creative directions. 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (new business cards) 

The initial stages of rebranding are akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Remember, these are just preliminary concepts, a foundation for further development and exploration. As you progress through rounds of revisions, focus on maintaining the tone, objectives, and messaging goals set at the beginning of the process. While it’s easy to get caught up in colors and technical details, it is important to ensure the new visual identity stays true to your brand’s essence. A helpful tool in this process is to see the new logo options in use for a few key deliverables. What looks good in a presentation deck may not translate to a letterhead or business card. Working with your designer to bring this into the process can ensure you work out any issues early on and help avoid frustration later in the brand expansion. 

As you narrow down options from seven to five to three to one, consider involving more stakeholders to gather diverse perspectives. However, be cautious not to bring them in too early, as conflicting opinions can stall progress. Once the final logo is selected, anticipate receiving a brand guidelines document as the initial deliverable. These documents can be as simple as one page detailing color, type, and logo usage or as detailed as the beautiful NASA Graphics Standard Manual of 1976.  This document serves as the source of truth for further development of your brand’s presentation. From there, the brand expands to print and digital properties. 

Implementation Station  

While not everyone needs to know every detail, it’s essential to create and share a plan for how the new brand will rollout. Provide clear direction on when and where to use the new brand versus the old one, keeping in mind long lead time products, like templates, print assets, signage, swag—versus assets that can be created and deployed more quickly, such as digital assets and deliverables. This preemptive communication can prevent confusion and result in a smooth transition for your staff and customers. 

Sharing Your New Brand with the World 

Share the new brand/refresh story. Not everyone is going to care deeply but loyal customers have invested time in the brand story and you want to bring them along with the evolution. For a significant rebrand, consider coordinating the public rollout with another announcement or as a standalone event. Launching with a complete set of assets, including print materials, email signatures, website updates, and social profiles/content, will minimize confusion and create a seamless experience for customers, regardless of how they engage with your brand. Graphic showing four variations of the Fearey logoA brand update can be an exciting endeavor, but it can also be time-consuming and costly. While you don’t need to have all the answers upfront, starting with a clear analysis of your current brand will set you on a straight path, right from the beginning.