Are you feeling that your brand growth is stagnating? Your audience aren’t engaging with it as much as they used to? You feel a slight cringe when you look at your outdated logo? Maybe you’ve been going a little while and now evolving into a different direction that your current brand doesn’t reflect...
Whatever the reason - you’re feeling that itch for change.
Like the need for a new haircut, or shopping spree for a new look, a new car or redecorate the living room: The itch for something new, you’ve outgrown something.
Sometimes we get that desire to completely overhaul everything; to reinvent yourself, your business. TRANSFORM it into something else.
Sometimes a simple spruce will do - an UPDATE to keep things fresh and energised.
Which one is for me? Where do I start?
Find the source issue
The most important step in recognising which is for you, is to get to the source issue - the real reason behind the ‘itch’.
Try and understand what’s actually going on: What is it about your current brand that isn’t sitting right for you? Go beyond the superficial, do some digging and soul searching.
Maybe it’s your messaging, your current services feel tired, products not doing as well as they could or does the visual identity fail to spark joy?
It’s very easy to just take the visual communication as the culprit and solution - but the design elements are the result of a far greater message - your brand. This can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Don’t be afraid to check in with your Core Idea, your vision and values from time to time: These should still be relevant and resonate, no matter how much the visual identity changes. If it doesn’t, there’s more work to be done. Your Core Idea, intent and purpose shouldn’t change, the mission, visual tone, audience and communications may evolve.
Understanding where the issue lies allows you to move forward with confidence and a clear goal in mind.
What are my options?
Once you have got to the bottom of the source issue, you can begin the task of addressing it:
Do you need to transform and REBRAND or update and REFRESH yourself?
To most people, it’s easy to get confused with these two terms.
But what do they really mean for me and my business?
Let’s firstly clearly define the difference between Refresh and Rebrand.
Take the example of a property:
A brand refresh is like giving your company a fresh lick of paint, some new curtains, carpet and furniture.
Rebranding would equate to tearing down everything you’ve built, and starting again from scratch.
In other words, one is a tactical manoeuvre, the other strategic and dramatic.
How does this translate to your business?
When is it time for a brand refresh strategy?
If you’re facing one of the scenarios below, you might need a brand refresh:
You’re looking a bit dated: Evaluate your branding tool kit and and assess whether your image and tone is relevant for tomorrow or yesterday. Some simple new colours, imagery and fresh approach can get you to a very different place.
You’ve changed direction: Evolving your offer (products and services) may be necessary over time in order to remain relevant. Make sure your customers understand what you’re about now. Does your brand messaging truly reflect this version of yourself and who you are today?
You’re a bit all over the place: Inconsistency can result in confusion and distraction for your customers: using different colour schemes, images, illustrations, messages and logos. A refresh can help you to refocus by looking at what’s worked and what can be got shot of.
Your audience has changed: You may not be reaching your target audience anymore, because your market has shifted since you first began your branding efforts. A refresh will help you to focus on targeting the people that need you.
A brand refresh may include:
Update your visual branding: current design or logo, your colour palette and / or fonts
Updating your brand voice: tag line, key messaging and comms tone
Redo all marketing and sales materials to reflect the new branding
Refresh your customer service/ product offerings
Types of refreshes:
Expand the design system: Need a more dynamic design system to connect with new audiences? Maybe you have a new service or product that sits outside your current client reach: by expanding your colours, visual tool kit (graphic elements, imagery, illustrations etc), together with a fresh approach to your channels (distribution network, social media, partners) and how to go to market can help you appeal to a new audience and bring a new product to them.
Keep the logo, update the look: A whole new look and tone can be achieved for your brand, without changing the logo - messaging hierarchy, fresh design and a new colour palette can make a positive impact on recognition in your audience. A new design system can support this by simply reworking your messaging, imagery and colours.
Update the logo, keep the look and visual connection: You can keep the visual identity and tone if this works well for you, and update the logo - this helps you retain a visual narrative whilst also offering something new.
CLIENT CASE STUDY: Update logo, keep the look and visual connection
After 3 years of working in the industry of event structures, my client, Chord Event, had evolved their product offering and veered away from where they had started out. Whilst they loved the visual identity that had been built up, the logo did not reflect where they were going tomorrow. We were tasked with rolling out an updated, simpler version of their logo instead of a new identity, across all touchpoints:
How complicated your brand refresh process is will depend on the extent to which you need to change your image - verbally and visually. Often, the idea is to have a distinct impact on the way that your company feels, sounds, and looks to your customer.
As your business grows and changes, it’s important your brand to reflects the current market - keeping up with technologies, trends and behaviours and through the right channels.
If you remained the same while all the companies in your industry changed, adopted fresher logos, and newer ways of communicating with their audience, you’ll end up losing your competitive edge.
A brand refresh not only tells your audience that you’re contemporary and relevant, it also shows that you’re connected to and listening to your industry. Who wants to do business with a company that’s not up to speed with what’s going on in their field?
By reflecting a more current, updated image, you work to change how your brand is perceived whilst reassure your customers that you still know what you’re doing. Though it’s not as comprehensive as a rebrand, the results can be significant. It’s amazing how much a fresh image, voice and colour palette can change a brand – plus, it’s a lot faster, cheaper and less emotionally charged than a full-scale rebrand.
Most of the time, companies prefer to opt for a simple brand refresh, rather than a complete rebrand.
A good brand refresh strategy requires less risk than a total overhaul, and it can still get you the results you need.
For instance, by making subtle to your positioning and branding, you can:
Preserve the integrity of your brand.
Reenergise the business and staff.
Ensure your company image keeps up with the changing marketplace.
Appeal to new potential customers.
When is it time for a rebrand strategy?
Typically, the goal of rebranding is to influence and change a customer’s perception about a the company, overall, by revitalising the brand and ensuring that it appeals to the existing needs of a customer, or a new set of customers.
There are plenty of reasons why a brand might want to completely change their image.
Most of the time, businesses consider a rebranding strategy when:
You’re branding doesn’t speak to you audience anymore: Evaluate how relevant and up to date your brand your brand image and messaging is for the direction your business is growing. What may have worked for you at the start may not be serving today - you’re not the same and your brand needs to evolve with you.
You’ve gone through a merger/buy out/business model change: Mergers and buy outs can lead to a change of direction or a different business model. Make sure your customers understand what you’re about now. You might need to reposition your company and vision to show your customers a change in focus, ownership and offering.
Your competition is growing: Sometimes being the first to a market has its benefits, but you need to stay ahead of the competition when they start clipping at your heels. The brand needs to evolve too - to keep up with, and ahead of, the competition and set yourself apart.
You’re growing: Your brand should be bigger than you - to grow into it, is there still room for you to grow or are you already feeling cramped? If you’re expecting to see growth in your business towards the future, either because of a merger, new product line, or marketing campaigns, it’s a good idea to reassess your brand
A rebrand may include:
Revisit your purpose, principles, point of difference and personality
Review and rewrite the brand strategy
Review your channel and distribution strategy to establish yourself within a different market/channel
Overhauling your entire image, tone and presence
Types of rebrand:
Rebranding can be a complete redesign of the business. A total rebrand is a strategic transformation, and can include:
Going back to basics: Getting to the bottom of your organisation and finding out what makes it work. Talking to key personnel, find out information about stretch and pain-points, threats, and strengths and joys, the culture and behaviours. This means speaking with your team and digging deep...
A new brand strategy, mission statement, positioning, manifestos etc, all documented: ready for training the staff on the new direction. Workshops are a great way to actively and creatively address these with key personnel.
A new identity and brand system: The new brand strategy will create briefs for new visual and verbal communications, such as logo design, collateral, fresh messaging, a reinvented visual system and a transformed marketing programme, to propel the business forward.
Rebranding can be an incredible solution for an otherwise stagnant business when done right and dangerous when done wrong.
A rebranding strategy requires a great deal of commitment, resources, money, energy and creativity and should not be entered into lightly. The risk is stalling half way or getting lost in the middle of a rebrand which could mean that your company becomes stranded between an incomplete future, and an inconsistent present. That means that you struggle to distinguish yourself in the competitive market, inspire your employees, and resonate with your customers.
At a fundamental level, rebranding will:
Help you curate the way that your organisation shows up in the market.
Change your customer’s perception of you, your offering and how you do things.
Build a brand, structure, vision and picture for tomorrow that is big enough to grow into.
Which option is right for you?
Eventually, every brand needs to adapt and change. It should be a work in progress at all times to account for the world constantly evolving, with new trends and behaviours, new innovations, and shifting demands from customers.
However, the extent to which you change, and the size of the decisions that you make to adapt to your new marketplace, depends on you.
A refresh is something that can improve and build upon a brand that’s already fundamentally robust. If you have existing loyalty for your brand, and things are going well, a refresh can help you to make sure that you stay competitive, and remain on the right track.
If something feels fundamentally broken, not working or have changed beyond recognition - a rebrand offers the opportunity to change everything and start afresh. You might be selling the same products, or providing the same services, but you become something entirely new.
So, how far do you need to go to reframe your brand?
Are you stuck in your brand? Got a new revenue stream you can pursue for a new audience? Cringe every time you look at your website? Embarrassed to hand out your business cards?
Fear not - we can help! We can help understand the source issue for your pain and help put a plan together to get you back in love with your brand.
Also check out my 4P Framework to help you with your brand building;