How to Navigate a Brand Refresh
Having a strong brand is crucial to the success of any business. Just like product lines, marketing campaigns and office software, sometimes a brand needs to be re-evaluated and updated.
A brand refresh can be as simple as modern tweaks to an outdated logo and cleaning up any inconsistent branding, or it can represent a significant shift in overall strategy and vision. The scale of the refresh will depend on the business, but any brand refresh should be undertaken only as part of a comprehensive brand strategy and build on already-established brand recognition.
Why consider a refresh?
A brand refresh can be a natural part of business expansion and is often a good idea when there has been a substantial amount of business growth or preparation for a growth spurt, a shift in values or target market, inconsistent branding across platforms, or if enough time has passed since establishing the brand that certain aspects, such as logo design or company motto, have become dated.
Another time to consider a refresh is if your brand has taken on a new acquisition, or is merging with another brand. When planned well, a brand refresh can reflect and clearly distinguish these changes to both established and potential target markets.
Essentially an effective and useful brand refresh should mark an evolution of some kind, updating and expanding brand assets so that they more fall in line with what your company is becoming. A brand refresh should be something that signifies to your existing customers that what you are offering is only getting better, while sending out the message to potential customers that you are expanding to better meet their needs.
What’s involved in a brand refresh?
A brand refresh isn’t a total rebrand. It’s building on what your brand already has, but streamlining it to show brand evolution. For an idea of how this works, take a look at major brands that have been around for at least the past few decades. Apple and Microsoft are great examples. These companies have changed substantially over the past four decades, and their logos and branding have changed with them. Though the Microsoft logo from 1975 looks quite different from the logo in 2019, there are similarities that show Microsoft wasn’t changing into a different company, but evolving as a company into something more than it was before.
A brand refresh doesn’t always have to be a major overhaul, but it should be part of an overall marketing and business development strategy. Most brands that do a refresh choose to do so as simply as possible. Removing elements of logo design that are no longer applicable to the brand or are out-of-date are one thing – completely changing the logo is another. Keep style elements that resonate with customers or make your brand recognizable. Clean up any inconsistent branding, and decide how to present your brand visually across all channels. Decide on aesthetics that will remain consistent across channels, and what style elements the design team can play with to demarcate different channels. Will images on your Instagram feed look the same as on your blog? What is your company motto or slogan, and where should it appear? Have you added any channels recently that need to be highlighted? Are you planning to add more in the near future? How will these be handled according to your refresh aesthetic?
The answers to these questions will determine what needs to be refreshed, and how. If you are having trouble identifying what needs to be refreshed, it can be worth it to engage a company that specializes in brand audits to help you. Sometimes an outside view can offer insights that are difficult to uncover from an internal standpoint.
How will people react?
It’s easy to think that a simple brand refresh will fly under the radar, and will speak for itself. But studies have shown that consumers are often disturbed by significant changes to brands they are loyal to. To avoid negative backlash, part of your branding refresh strategy should be a clear explanation as to why it’s happening and what it hopes to achieve.
Consider treating the implementation of your brand refresh as a product launch. Make it an event of note, so that there is ample opportunity for consumers to understand why it is happening, and get used to the new elements of the brand. Have some swag with your refreshed logo or motto printed on it to give out to customers. Introduce style changes and any logo changes at the same time – don’t try to make the changes in small increments over time. Being honest with your customers about what you are doing and why you are doing it will go a long way toward staving off any negative backlash when your refresh is introduced.
Refreshing your brand can be a good option as your business grows and takes on new and bigger challenges. With careful planning and execution, a brand refresh can inject new life into your brand, and help strengthen your business.
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