What is the difference between a brand refresh and rebranding and What mindset should a designer approach a brand refresh vs a rebrand?
Brand refresh is when a company makes changes to a brand’s identity (modernizing its image) while keeping its core identity and strategy.
A brand refresh is simply updating your brand’s look and feel. You are keeping the same visual elements of your brand which means that they will still be able to visually connect your fresh look with the old brand identity.
You make changes to your brand without having to stray too far from how it was originally seen by your customers.
For examples of a brand refresh refer to Dropbox and Rotten Tomatoes.
Rebrand is when a company makes an overhaul of its brand identity and strategy. This can be changing the logo, name, creating a new tagline, website, and others design collaterals. For example, Starbucks not only changed their logo but also removed the word coffee since their new strategy of entering new categories that go beyond its core product — coffee.
A designer, therefore, you should be aware of the clients' needs, figure out whether they need a rebrand or refresh. The client has verbalized their desire to rebrand, but you should figure out its purpose before you even jump straight into rebranding. You should consider other avenues if your client cannot present a concrete reason (and “I am bored "does not count)
Rebrand examples include Uber and Apple.
When would you recommend a brand refresh or a rebrand?
Think of rebranding as a series of substantial changes made to breathe life into an outdated company image. This process is more in-depth and can change elements of business, these can be time-consuming, expensive, and need a lot of approval to conduct, so if the client looking to make more immediate changes for businesses you want to consider a brand refresh strategy instead of a rebrand strategy.
Therefore, a designer should consider if:
The brand identity is outdated
Does it have older design aspects? Is the logo in 2D and you need to apply it in 3D? Has the company outgrown its earlier image? Has the brand personality completely changed from what it was then? These questions and more help you as a designer to decide the best approach to brand changes.
The company stands out from the competition.
Sometimes, the vision, personality and identity have not changed but the image simply does not stand a chance compared to the brand competitors.
The current branding strategy reaches the target market.
Sometimes that brand image simply doesn’t break through into the target market for example audience psychology states that certain colors stand out and are associated with certain products. If your brand image goes so far out of that scope, the target market might not consider you a player in the market.
The products or services are changing.
Usually, when the business direction changes, the brand identity and image must change too.
The Vision is changing or staying the same.
This could be a change in the scope of impact or the outcomes of the work. This will automatically cause aspects of the brand to change. It may not be as deep as logo change, but changes will have to be recommended.
What changes during this process are usually the most difficult to defend?
Changing the core values of the brand. Most clients/founders are attached to their first brand philosophy but with shifts in the industry’s expectations, most brands usually need to cope with the idea that change in any initial brand identity is inevitable at one point or another.
What is the most important thing to remember during a brand refresh?
A brand refresh keeps a visual connection to how the brand identity was seen before therefore the audience should still be able to recognize the brand. Once you change a brand to a point that it is unrecognizable by its audiences, that is a rebrand.
What advice would you have for a brand about to embark on a brand refresh or rebrand?
Considering these are risky steps, a company should make all the necessary research and evaluation to understand the core problems or issues that the rebrand or refresh will address. This will aid the development of creative briefs and other necessary documents to guide the team that will handle the creative and design process.