Brand Refresh: What, Why & How
A brand refresh is often to a business what Spring home renovation is to a person. The nice weather rolls around and we all start having thoughts like, “I’d love to renovate the bedroom so that it has a walk-in wardrobe” but when it comes down to it, very few of us pop down Wickes and load up a YouTube video that tells us exactly how to install one.
When it comes to revamping their branding and brand identities, businesses and brands unfortunately fall prey to the same procrastination fuelled defeat that we all do. And it’s for much the same reason - it’s effort.
Diving deep into the foundations of the brand or business is a mammoth undertaking, one that often leaves those tasked with carrying out the brand refresh scratching their heads and not knowing where to begin. Do you put the branded pens under the microscope? Do you go as far as to alter the pixels in an email signature? And that’s before tackling the bigger questions like, “Do we need to change the businesses colour scheme and repaint everywhere?”
The good news is that a refresh doesn’t need to be as overwhelming as it first seems, and actually, it can produce tangible results for business efficiency and productivity. All you need to do is follow the steps we’ve outlined in today’s blog. You’re welcome!
What is a brand refresh?
Before we get started, it’s best to take a moment to define what we’re talking about. A brand refresh is not a complete overhaul. Read that again: Not a complete overhaul.
Instead a brand refresh is like your house getting a Spring makeover, but for your business. The changes involved in a brand refresh are often minor, but do make a substantial difference to the brand’s visual identity, especially if the values, goals, objectives, or persona of the brand has been updated.
If you’re attempting to reach new customers, or want to inject a little bit of vitality into your existing business or brand to make something existing feel brand new, it’s a perfect low risk way of formulating growth and repositioning your business.
Do you know your brand identity? If your answer is anything short of a confident “yes!”, you need to read our blog on how to identify it.
Brand refresh vs rebrand
We reiterated our point about a brand refresh not being a complete overhaul for one reason: Often brand refreshes and rebrands get completely confused until what started as a simple refresh has turned into an all out, no expenses spared, crossed wires with every department, rebrand.
A company rebrand is a complete brand overhaul. It starts from the top and tears down everything, including tone of voice, colour scheme, visual identity, and persona. A brand refresh doesn’t do that. It makes small tweaks, like a different shade to the colour scheme and perhaps an updated logo, and that’s that.
To help you stay on track, here are some main differences between them.
A brand refresh might look like:
- Updating your current logo or visual designs
- Changing your slogan
- Altering your colour pallet
- Updating and enhancing marketing materials
- Trying out a new font
Whilst a rebrand will definitely look like:
- Creating an entirely new brand persona
- Adopting a new tone of voice
- Choosing new brand values
- Aligning the brand or business to present to a different market
- Overhauling the brand or businesses entire image
If what started as a brand refresh is veering into overhaul territory, veer it back! Confusion between the two will greatly hinder the cohesiveness of your brand’s visual identity.
Why do a brand refresh
Okay so if a brand refresh is so minor, why bother doing one? Simple: Because sometimes things get stale. Existing brands who lead the market still need to reinvigorate themselves sometimes to stay ahead of competitors and continue appealing to new customers.
Brand refreshes serve as fantastic low risk ways to reconnect with your brand’s identity, and to reach new clientele or add a bit of pizzazz to your brand for existing ones. There’s always a younger, swisher model waiting to take over, and that’s true no matter which industry you’re in. This helps you prevent that. Like botox.
On the whole, your reasons for undertaking a brand refresh could be:
- To maintain the same core values of your business, but to either connect with new customers, or reconnect with existing ones
- To realign your staff with the values or persona of the brand or business (especially true in cases of significant expansion where there might be a lot of internal change)
- To allow the brand or business to reintroduce itself to the market and potentially attract new clientele, as well as prospect potential partners without losing existing ones
- To showcase a more cohesive brand image, identity and message
Brand strategy powers brand identity. If that’s new to you, we’ve got a handy guide to brand strategy you can read right here.
How to do a brand refresh:
There’s more good news about brand refreshes: Their process is simple. Compared to rebrands, where lengthy consultation and guidance is a necessity, brand refreshes need some limited (but accurate) research, a touch of competitor analysis and a concise creative brief.
Here’s the brand refresh checklist that you can follow to keep those changes strictly refreshing instead of overwhelming.
- Undertake Research and Discovery
Any type of branding development needs researching before it’s implemented, and it’s still the same when it comes to brand refreshes. Businesses and brands need to research how the market views them, what USPs they still possess ahead of competitors, and what changes may need to take place to stay relevant. To help, brands can ask themselves:
- Is our branding still meeting its initial objectives?
- Is it still in keeping with modern designs?
- What will indicate the success of a brand refresh?
- 2. Audit your Brand
Brand audits are powerful tools for any brand, which is why we at Huddle swear by them.
Brand audits may seem conducive to a rebrand, but they can still be particularly helpful when it comes to deciding what needs a touch up, and what can be left well alone. If your brand has hit a plateau and you feel it is starting to lack relevance, or you feel disconnected from your customers, mind-mapping methods such as in an audit can present you with brand new ideas that can be organised and analysed.
In an audit, try to analyse these main areas:
- The brands main competitors: Have they evolved? How?
- Areas of brand misalignment, such as promises that your brand or business is not fulfilling.
- The website: How does it look? Does it serve a purpose? What is it used for? Is it fulfilling that?
- Your brand images strengths and weaknesses. (Could include website and marketing materials)
- Current (and future) trends within the industry
- 3. Develop Customer Personas
A common reason for a brand refresh is to connect with new customers or reconnect with existing ones. But since your last refresh, your customers’ hopes, needs and desires may have changed so it’s worth reassessing to make sure that your brand can realign with those changes. Ask:
- Have our customers’ priorities and tastes changed? If so, where to?
- Has the type of customer we’re targeting changed since the last refresh? If so, how?
- Can we reach totally new customers? If so, who are they? What desires and needs do they have? How can we fulfill those?
4. Assess brand positioning and messaging
Once you have the answers to the above questions, your brand needs to position itself so that it does meet the needs and desires of the customers you’ve identified, and it needs to talk to those customers in their language to persuade them that it can.
Brands should ask:
- Does our messaging need updating? How?
- How can we ensure any updated messaging connects to new customers, without losing existing ones?
- How can we ensure our updated messaging communicates the persona of the brand, the values of your business and the promises it offers?
- How is our messaging clearer and louder than competitors?
- 5. Upgrade your visual identity
Most of the time a brand refresh focuses on an updated visual identity which reflects any internal changes the brand or business may have undergone. When it comes to a visual identity, it needs to be relevant and it needs to be unique. Similarities won’t differentiate your brand from competitors, and could even lose you custom.
Design elements to consider within a visual identity include the following:
Any visual identity refresh must convey the persona, promises and values of the brand so be sure to leverage your earlier research to guide your design decisions.
Other elements to consider include how much time and money to spend. For example if you’re refreshing the colour palette, fonts and styles, remember that this will expand outward across all marketing materials, your website and any brand touchpoints.
Review the above listed elements as well as your website, page templates and illustration styles and ask yourself these questions as you do:
- Does the visual identity tell the brand story?
- Does the visual identity communicate the brand values?
- Is the visual identity liked or disliked (May need market research)
- Is the visual identity practical for use every day?
- Is the visual identity working? (i.e is it drawing in the customers you expected)
- Is the visual identity the best it can be? (Nobody is ever satisfied, but if a plethora of changes come to mind this indicates a more serious problem with the identity itself)
- Is the visual identity inspiring to you and your customers?
- 6. Roll out your refresh
Finally, it’s time to present your new lick of paint to the world. Begin by:
- Creating updated brand guideline materials explaining how the refreshed elements align with the overall objectives of the brand
- Introducing everyone within the business to the refreshed elements so that they can be comfortable adhering to the changes going forward (especially in things like letterheads or email signatures)
- Supplying everyone necessary with refreshed assets (new logo files and font packages)
- Updating existing design templates
- Redesigning major design assets to fit into the new stylistic choices (e.g. main website pages, marketing materials)
And then that’s it! Soon enough you should see the fruits of your labour if tangible correlations begin to occur between the brand refresh and increased efficiency, productivity or new client prospecting.
Need a hand?
We know that we’ve made brand refreshes seem simple and effortless, but we also know that it’s still a process to go through that you and your business may not have time for. At Huddle Creative, we breathe brands and there’s nothing we love more than injecting innovation into new or existing brands. For next steps you can:
- Check out the many (many) brand refreshes we’ve performed
- Read more about our Huddle Hack approach
- Contact us to tell us what you need from us