Is Your Company Ready for a Brand Refresh?
Companies can get stuck with a brand identity that no longer resonates with its target audience or does not adequately represent its new products and services. Sometimes, its brand identity may not even be clear at all. That’s when it’s time to do a “brand refresh.”
What is a brand refresh, and how is it different from complete rebranding?
Branding companies like Neff explain that a rebrand is completely focused on changing the company’s identity and positioning. A brand refresh only updates certain elements so it can reflect or keep up with important changes, such as:
- Mergers with another business
- Expanding market segments or product/service offerings
- Personality and needs of the target audience
The brand refresh is more of an evolution rather than a revolution and tweaks the brand voice and visuals to give a more current, relevant image of the company. Changes can include new logo typography, color palette, or photography and graphic design style.
A brand refresh is simpler, cheaper, and less risky than a full rebrand, but can still revitalize brand identity, increase sales, and even give a competitive advantage—especially in the following situations.
There is no strong brand identity
One of the biggest signs that a company needs a brand refresh is that the customers do not recognize the brand or feel that it has a unique personality or identity. Possible reasons include:
- The logo is too bland
- The logos, color palettes, and other visual styles are not consistently applied on different platforms (i.e., social media versus in the store)
- The brand is often mistaken or associated with another brand
For example, Uber’s consumer surveys found that its customers couldn’t recognize its half-coin icon, and some of its drivers actually turned the decal inside out because the name was printed on the flip side. So, it switched to a serif font style that was readable and recognizable.
There is no emotional connection
In some cases, a brand may be recognizable but not relevant: consumers do not feel an emotional connection or resonance with the company’s values and mission. In this case, a brand refresh is necessary to humanize the brand and tell the story.
For example, medical and pharmaceutical brands have been changing their messaging to be more customer-centric. Instead of just talking about medical research, they also talk about the company’s impact on the environment, communities, and customer care.
The brand refresh can be seen in their website design (more images of people, warmer color palettes, simpler and more readable design), and the way their ads and marketing collaterals are executed.
The target market is evolving
Even big, well-known and popular brands will need a brand refresh if there is a major shift in the tastes or needs of its main audience.
For example, food sandwich chain Subway saw that there was a growing preference for fresh, local and organic food. In response, it updated its menu and its logo: “a clean design to reflect clean healthy food.”
The company is evolving
Google AdWords changed both its name and its logo to highlight that it had expanded its suite of advertising solutions. Animal Planet changed its logo from a stylized typeface to a walking elephant, to represent its globalization and “moving towards new countries, and new content.”
Their brand refresh drew attention to a big internal brand change and can be a core component of a product relaunch or new brand story. For example, National Geographic changed its logo when it shifted from its magazine format to digital, and then launched new shows and channels, before finally taking a cultural shift from being channel-led to content-led.
The logo and visuals don’t reflect the brand
Design elements provide consumers with the “first impression” of the brand’s personality and style: fun and energetic, luxurious, stylish, sleek and modern, etc. A brand refresh is needed if there is a disconnect between the design and the brand identity.
For example, a restaurant that serves affordable comfort food with large family servings may actually turn away the target audience if its logo and interiors are too upscale and luxurious.
The design is outdated
Design trends and customer tastes change. A logo that looked very trendy 15 years ago may now be seen as outdated and old-fashioned. This is the reason for the regular brand refreshes of Apple, which has gone through six logos since its launch in 1976.
The rainbow-colored logo reflected the company’s invention of the first computer with a color display and was then changed to a more monochromatic look in the 2000s to represent its marketing positioning as “sleek technology for the modern lifestyle”.
Brand refresh: keeping a company “current”
Companies need to regularly review their marketing, and update it to reflect changing markets, customer trends, and even business direction. A brand refresh keeps the company current and relevant.