From time to time, it’s only natural to consider a brand refresh.
Maybe you’re thinking of completely rebranding, or maybe it’s a case of “tidying it up around the edges.”
Either way, you’re looking for your brand refresh to breathe new life into your business.
Just like any other marketing strategy or tactic, your branding should have an impact on your bottom line. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time and effort.
Branding, rebranding, brand refresh – it can all get a bit confusing!
There’s too much terminology and not enough explanation around the subjects.
Put simply, it can be broken down like this:
- Branding – your business brand strategy and identity
- Rebranding – the process of changing your strategy and/or identity
- Brand refresh – making small tweaks and improvements to your strategy or identity
We’ve covered branding and rebranding in depth on the Canny blog already.
But we’ve never talked about refreshing your brand, or the process of going through a brand refresh.
So, let’s dive in…
What’s the Difference Between a Brand Refresh and a Rebrand?
Most confusion comes from talking about rebranding vs a brand refresh.
A rebranding exercise involves taking your current brand, carrying out a brand audit, and then changing direction completely, and coming up with something new.
Here are a few reasons you might undergo a rebrand:
- Change your brand strategy and identity completely
- Enter a new market
- Target a new type of customer
- Shift away from a huge PR disaster
- Reposition your brand in the marketplace
A brand refresh is less drastic, but can still have a positive effect on your business.
The whole idea with a brand refresh, is about tweaking and improving your existing strategy or identity.
If you’re happy with your brand strategy, but feel your identity no longer communicates, then a brand refresh might be the right direction for you.
Or perhaps, the identity looks great, but you don’t know how to communicate your brand story to your customers.
To simplify the idea of rebranding vs a brand refresh further, here’s what might be involved in each:
- Creating a new brand strategy
- Designing a new brand identity and developing a new website
- Overhauling each of your brand touchpoints
- Establishing yourself in a new market or with new customers
- Shifting customer perceptions of your brand
- Tweaking your brand identity or logo design
- Adding, removing, or changing your slogan
- Modifying your colour palette by adding or removing colours
- Updating or improving your stationery design and marketing materials
- Changing the font you use on your website
Rebranding is a complete change in strategy and identity.
A brand refresh can be small yet noticeable tweaks that happen either all at once, or one step at a time.
If you’re printing new business cards or stationery, then you might choose to refresh their look then, rather than overhauling everything in one go.
Consistency plays a huge part in the success of branding, and we recommend ensuring you have consistency across each of your brand touchpoints at all time.
How Do You Know if You Need a Brand Refresh Rather Than a Full Rebrand?
Choosing whether you need a rebrand, or a brand refresh is key here.
Don’t be under any illusions, the cost of branding can change quite dramatically depending on what you decide at this stage.
Naturally, a complete overhaul of your existing branding is going to be more expensive than gently tweaking it and building it out.
Check out this post if you’re not sure about what happens during the branding process.
What we’re going to do is look at three top level reasons you might consider a brand refresh over a complete rebrand.
Then, we’re going to look at more specific reasons a brand refresh might be for you.
After that, we’ll look at some examples of brands that have successfully refreshed.
The world of business is always moving and changing.
When you started your business several years ago, things would have been completely different.
You might have had different products, services, competitors, customers, or staff members. A lot of things can change as time goes by.
Advancements in technology may have also made your offering obsolete, forcing you to pivot.
You’ve changed direction as a company because you’ve become outdated.
In this scenario, you’re probably still happy with your values, mission, and story. However, your positioning and messaging probably needs to change.
Your brand identity might have been compromised, so maybe you need to revisit that too.
A brand refresh is the perfect call here. You don’t need to change everything, just a few tweaks to help you get back on the straight and narrow.
Here’s the truth about consistency in business branding:
Inconsistency ruins brands.
You need to make sure you have a consistent approach to your brand across your entire business.
Typically, an updated set of great brand guidelines goes a long way in this case.
However, if you’re a larger company, you might have lots of staff members, or different departments, that you need to bring in line.
Along with a set of solid brand guidelines, you’ll probably want to host a refresher seminar or event that educates people about the importance of your brand, and following your guidelines.
Your business needs to tell one brand story, using one consistent visual style.
If it’s not, then a brand refresh can be used to bring everyone back to the table, and make sure they stay consistent.
Growth in your business is great. It’s hugely positive, but again, it poses a risk to your brand.
As you grow, the approach to consistency in your brand might waiver slightly. Growing a business takes a lot of time, and other things tend to suffer as a result.
You’ve grown so much, you’re now adding another department or office to the business.
How do they fit into your brand architecture?
Do they have their own set of branded materials?
If you’re acquiring another company, how do you handle that in terms of bringing their brand into yours?
Think about a coffee shop:
Their popularity has exploded. As they’ve grown, they’ve learned a thing or two about their brand.
They’re now taking on additional premises and don’t want to repeat the branding mistakes they made the first time.
They have a logo, that says “Creative Coffee London” but their new premises is in Newcastle. How does this change their brand identity?
This is where a brand refresh can come in, and help tidy up any issues like this.
Now, let’s look at some more specific examples of when you might take advantage of a brand refresh.
Your Brand Identity is Dated (but You’re Happy with Your Brand Strategy)
Creating a brand strategy takes a lot of time and effort, And you might be completely happy with it.
But lately, you’ve noticed your brand identity is looking tired.
What’s made you realise that?
- New competitors are springing up, and they all look more modern
- You hate investing in printed materials, because they look so bad
- When you look at your website, it looks like it was made in the 90s
Any number of reasons could lead you to think your brand identity is looking dated.
So, how do you refresh your brand identity without changing it completely?
- Modernise your fonts and typography
- Change up your colour palette
- Invest in a new logo designba or have it tidied up
- Create new look stationery design
- Redesign your social media imagery
Everything we suggest here completely depends on the sector you work in.
Changing up an identity for a coffee shop with a physical premises will be a lot more costly, than for a business that functions mostly online.
If you’re in a business where it might be costly to change, why not try modernising just a few things?
To go back to our coffee shop example, you could:
- Keep your logo the same, but have new uniforms made
- Print new takeout cups that retain the logo, but have a new design
- Update the look of your menu
- Refresh the imagery on your website
- Create a range of merchandise that helps position you as a more modern brand
Each business we work with has it’s own unique set of challenges.
You have to get creative and start thinking outside of the box!
Your Website Looks Bad, Doesn’t Function Properly, or Convert Visitors
Your website is likely one of the first things potential customers or clients come into contact with.
And as we’ve mentioned before on the blog, bad website design can ruin your business.
Typically, a website needs to perform a handful of vital business tasks:
- Win traffic from search engines
- Inform people about your products and/or services
- Encourage people to either buy from you, or reach out to you
- Function well across a range of devices including phones and tablet
If it’s falling down in either of these departments, then it’s probably due either an overhaul or a refresh.
So how do you know if your website is letting your brand down?
Well there are a few tools that can help you out here.
Google Analytics can help you track your website traffic and their movements through your website.
It also allows you to create goal funnels and setup desired outcomes for website visitors.
These in turn can be tracked and optimised to make your website a success.
One of our favourite website tools is Hotjar. Head over to their website where you can sign up for a free account.
Hotjar lets you create click map and heat maps that show how users are interacting with the pages of your website.
It also lets you run audience polls and surveys for more direct feedback!
Away from these two tools, you can look at your competitors, look at other sites in your space, and see if your own online presence is stacking up.
If not, then it’s probably time for a brand refresh that encompasses your website.
Your Marketing Message No Longer Connects
To find out whether your message is still connecting with your target audience, you can ask yourself:
- Am I getting the leads I want from our advertising? (Namely print and PPC adverts)
- Is the message we’re putting out still relevant?
- Are customers reacting well to our messaging?
You’ll easily find answers to this question by assessing your Google Analytics data.
If you’re running several pay per click adverts, then you can easily see which one is driving the most people to your site.
Or, if your digital marketing plan focuses on social media, then you can check your data against days and times posted to see which messages connected the most.
If your advertising appears to be falling on deaf ears, then you might benefit from a brand refresh to help bring you back up to speed.
Your Audience Has Changed, But Not Completely
If your audience has changed completely from when you started, then make no mistake, a complete rebrand is going to do more than a brand refresh.
If you’re targeting Over 60s now, but previously you were targeting teens, then it’s very different, and you need to change your strategy to account for that.
So how does a brand refresh help when it comes to your audience?
Let’s look at Lego.
When I was a kid, Lego were absolutely in their prime. They were knocking it out of the park. And every single one of my friends loved Lego too.
Now, the things that appealed to us then, don’t appeal so much these days. (Although I do still love Batman!)
Lego’s audience has grown older and matured.
As a result, we have jobs, and can afford to spend on expensive Lego sets.
But who still loves Lego when they’re 30+?
Geeks of course! (I’m a self professed geek, and still love Lego.)
So how’ve Lego refreshed their brand to appeal to 30+ geeks who were once their loyal customers?
Well, they’ve focused in on popular geek culture.
And recently they announced both Friends and Stranger Things Lego sets.
I watch Stranger Things, I love Lego. Looks like I’ll be spending some of my hard earned cash on that set!
Sure, they still have their products aimed at kids, but they’re also inventing crazy new sets to bring long time Lego fans back to the table.
This is the perfect example of a brand refresh.
You’re Not Managing to Build Brand Loyalty
If your customers aren’t loyal to your brand, it’s because you’re not connecting with them in the right way.
Brand loyalty is a game changer.
Why do people stay loyal to Apple?
They love how cool the products are, the shopping experience, the smell of the packaging, and the look and feel of the hardware.
If your customers aren’t sticking around, and looking at competitors, you’re not building brand loyalty.
People buy from brands they love. You want to become that brand.
And if your branding isn’t strong, then you don’t have a chance, no matter how good your offer is.
Sometimes, a simple brand refresh can give you that extra thing you need to help hook customers in for the long haul.
Your Brand Touchpoints Don’t Work
Brand touchpoints are the points in time that a potential or existing customer comes into contact with your business.
For a coffee shop, this might be your:
Among a million other things!
If people are questioning your coffee shop’s menu, then it’s a sure sign that it isn’t working.
Getting no bookings through your website? It isn’t working.
Find people stumbling into your coffee shop thinking it’s something else? The signage isn’t clear enough.
If people are complaining about your menu, then take that onboard and refresh it.
Your brand touchpoints can almost always be improved on. Nobody has everything perfect!
A brand refresh should go a long way in helping improve each of your customer touchpoints.
Brands Refresh Examples
So, which companies have managed to refresh their brands successfully?
In the early 90s, Apple were the “alternative choice.”
However, when Steve Jobs took over the company, he made big strides into making Apple into what we know today.
From a strategic point of view, Apple underwent a complete rebrand. They became the sexy consumer brand we know them as today.
From a design perspective, Apple’s logo has been refreshed over time.
Their hardware too, has had quite the visual upgrade.
Apple’s visual refresh has paid dividends, and they’re now leading the charge in consumer technology.
From one computer giant to another.
Microsoft had a vice like grip on the tech industry until the early 2000s when Apple really hit their stride.
You can see from Microsoft’s logo history the brief refreshes they’ve undertaken at each stage in their lifespan.
Microsoft impressed people by bringing in Windows 10 and it’s Metro style. They then overhauled their whole brand architecture to bring each of their products in line.
Forall Apple have become the tech giant they are today, Microsoft are unwavering in their stance, and still have legions of loyal fans.
By refreshing their brand over time, they’ve managed to stay relevant and offer an alternative to Apple.
McDonalds came under attack for their unhealthy fast food.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen Ronald and his friends shift towards healthier food alternatives.
And where McDonalds previously targeted children, they’ve also stepped up efforts to capture the 20+ market with their McCafe range.
They’re offering good affordable coffee, and free to use WiFi, trying to capture some of the business/freelance market from the likes of Starbucks.
In McDonalds’ case, it’s been less of a visual refresh, and a larger strategic brand refresh.
Conclusion: Is it Time for a Brand Refresh? Use This Guide to Help!
The points we’ve shared in this post should give you an idea of the difference between a brand refresh and a full rebrand.
Refreshing your brand is less drastic than a complete change of direction.
Remember, if you’re:
- or Growing
But happy with your brand strategy, then you should consider a brand refresh.
We often find a brand refresh is used as a stop gap, before going through a lengthy rebranding process.
If you’re outdated, inconsistent, or growing, and also unhappy with your strategy, or feel you’ve moved beyond your current brand, then a rebrand might be in order.
Your brand refresh or rebrand should be handled with care by an agency that offers branding services.
Brands and businesses evolve, and that’s a positive thing. Don’t be scared to embrace your brand refresh with open arms.
How have you handled your brand’s evolution in the past? More refresh than rebrand? Let us know in the comments below.
reading time: 15 minutes