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  • Krista Cavender

To Rebrand or Refresh? Which should you invest in?


Man painting wall
Whether you decide to pull the trigger on a refresh or a rebrand you should never do it "because I'm tired of it." Your brand is an investment and a perception, not a disposable aesthetic. Making changes to your branding for any reason other than a strategic one is a waste of time and money.

Confused about the difference between a rebrand and a refresh? I get it. It's not your zone of genius. It took me a bit to grasp the difference between the dark web and the deep web, but despite how dark and murky those definitions are I finally have clarity. Hopefully, I can provide similar clarity for you in the area of branding and design.


It might be easiest to think of the concepts of a rebrand and a refresh like you would home improvement. Similar to a brand, your house is an investment and we can use this analogy to help us see the difference.


If you've ever stared too long at a dated and poorly painted avocado green wall you surely have felt the need for a refresh. Times and trends change and we often feel the need to make minor improvements to our homes to make them more comfortable and match our current style.


A new coat of paint - this is a refresh. We aren't tearing down walls. We aren't gutting the kitchen. But the improvements we are making are for the better and align with our sense of aesthetics. These changes have real value to us and make us feel very satisfied.


In terms of branding, often a refresh is needed when the brand begins to feel dated and mismatched for its customers. If a brand is perceived as out of touch with its customers it loses its value. Irrelevancy is a tough pill to swallow, not to mention pretty hard on the bottom line, so it's good to stay on top of things and show your customers that you are making improvements. You don't want your brand to be perceived as that poorly painted avocado green wall.


A brand refresh (I like to call it an evolution) can entail not only visual communications such as the logo and website design, but it may also require a messaging and tone refresh. And if you already have a brand strategy in place (see my article on building a Minimum Viable Brand) then chances are the refresh will be a breeze since modifying a plan is easier than modifying a non-plan. Having a place to start from, tweak, and measure is way easier than starting from nowhere, tweaking randomness just for the heck of it, and not knowing if it made any difference at all.


In general, changes made in a refresh are often subtle alignments and adjustments and while they may seem superficial and insignificant don't underestimate their value. Showing your customer you care about improving and being relevant to them goes a long way.



MailChimp Refresh



 

Starbucks Refresh





Ask the following questions to assess whether it's time for a refresh.


  • Has it been more than 3 years since you have assessed your brand strategy and whether it's still in alignment with your current vision and your customer's needs?

  • Has your visual identity been updated in the last 3 years?

  • Do you have new customer segments that are finding you or a new purpose or vision that drives you?


If you answered yes to the last question then read on, my friend, you may need a rebrand.


So back to our home improvement analogy, now that you are working more remotely you've decided to convert your extra bedroom into a home office. You also expand a hallway closet to provide more storage for your office supplies. Then you add a bathroom next to the office so you don't have to walk all the way across the house to use the loo. And thanks to 2020 you may have even decided to create a garden so that you can grow your own food and have some peace of mind. Your goals for your space have changed and you make the investment to create a more balanced and comfortable live/work space.


In terms of branding, this would be a rebrand. When a company's goals have shifted significantly or there's a need to expand into new markets it's most likely time for a rebrand. A shift like this may entail a realignment in your positioning but could also include internal aspects of your brand strategy encompassing your mission, vision, and values. The visual redesign of the company identity and all of its collateral may be more significant than it would be in a brand refresh. It could even require renaming the brand. Rebrands can be risky. You don't want to alienate loyal customers or give them a reason to believe you won't be delivering on your promise to them. Making sure you have solid reasons to rebrand is critical and knowing how far to take it is essential.




Airbnb Rebrand





 

Catholic Healthcare West Rebrand




 

Uber Rebrand




Ask the following questions to assess whether it's time for a rebrand.


  • Have your internal goals, purpose, or vision shifted dramatically?

  • Do the majority of your customers perceive your brand the way you intended?

  • Are there significant market/technology or competitive changes that require you to pivot your business or offering?


Whether you decide to pull the trigger on a refresh or a rebrand you should never do it "because I'm tired of it." Your brand is an investment and a perception not a disposable aesthetic. Making changes to your branding for any reason other than a strategic one is shortsighted and a waste of time and money. Getting clear on the objectives behind an overhaul can help you make the right decision.




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Need a brand strategy roadmap? Did you know I offer consulting services that help founders get clear on their brand strategy? Reach out. I can help.


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