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Why You Need a Brand Refresh

Why You Need a Brand Refresh

Consumers’ needs change, and their expectations of you… well, they change, too. So if you want to remain relevant and top-of-mind over time, you have to be willing to constantly reinvent yourself. In this world of cutthroat competition, there's really not much to gain from staying the same (just ask Taylor Swift).

And if you're considering reinventing yourself, adopting what we call a digital-first branding approach is the best way to do it. We’re in a time where everyone is seemingly glued to their laptops and smartphones, and going digital-first is key to a successful reinvention.

Even the big guys do it 

Over the years, we've seen industry giants reinvent themselves time and time again as part of their brand strategies.

McDonald's: then and now

Take McDonald's, for instance. The fast food chain has given itself a makeover more times than one can count. From modernizing its dining experience (those touchscreen kiosks? game-changing) to diversifying its menu lineup (hello low-cal options), McDonald’s isn’t afraid to shake things up.

Coca-Cola logo evolution

And then there's Coca-Cola. The beverage behemoth has tweaked its logo many times now just to keep up with the times—all while maintaining its iconic red-and-white look. But Coca-Cola has successfully completed more than just brand redesigns. It’s also rolled out new flavors over the years to meet people’s evolving dietary needs, from regional flavors to sugar-free options (Cherry Coke, anyone?).

In marketing, we call these brand strategy gimmicks “brand refreshes.”

Let's define it

Brand refresh: revitalizing brand image

A brand refresh is the process of revitalizing a brand while preserving its core identity. It’s putting a new spin on a certain aspect of the brand, be it a logo, brand voice, messaging, or product portfolio. The goal of a brand refresh is to make sure the brand remains up-to-date with the trends yet still remains recognizable to its existing customers.

Ideally, a brand refresh is completed every five years, and this is especially important for B2B companies. For consumer brands, it’s routinely done more frequently given the quick changes in consumer preferences.

How is a brand refresh different from a rebranding?

How is a brand refresh different from rebranding? Rebranding is a more comprehensive process because it involves a complete overhaul of a brand’s verbal and visual identity and strategy. Its main objective is to shift the brand's direction, or often, to resurrect it from the dead.

Rebranding is also a rare occurrence, while a brand refresh can be pursued every few years, depending on a company's needs.

Think of Meta. The sudden change from Facebook to Meta is an example of rebranding. Rebranding reflects the company’s shift to a new strategic direction and its new goal, building a metaverse. But this change of name and logo is also part of Meta’s bigger plan to improve Facebook’s soiled image after being involved in a series of controversies. 

So, how do you know when it’s time to refresh your brand?

Brand refresh vs. rebrand: How do you know which is which?

A brand refresh is periodically undertaken for various reasons, such as adapting to evolving customer needs, adjusting brand positioning, launching new products, or reaching new audiences. It may also involve modifying a brand’s messaging and crafting a memorable brand voice to better align with changing business goals or simply achieving a new visual identity.

What a brand refresh can’t solve is negative customer perceptions or a damaged reputation. You need rebranding for that.

Rebranding is the best way to salvage a company's brand equity. Following legal disputes and controversies, rebranding is often the approach most brands take to make a remarkable comeback. But rebranding isn’t always a negative action. It can indicate a strategic shift in a company, like entering a new market. Or it could signify a major merger or acquisition, serving as a means to unify brands under a single parent company.

Victoria’s Secret is a great case in point. Amid the rising scrutiny and public backlash regarding its toxic work culture (not to mention its unrealistic beauty standards), the famous lingerie brand launched a major rebranding campaign in 2021. It injected more diversity into its model lineup and even canceled its annual fashion shows to signify the end of an era—and the start of a new and more inclusive Victoria’s Secret. It’s worth noting that this rebranding effort has a lot to do with the sudden change of leadership in the organization (whether this does the trick or not remains to be seen).

When's the best time for a brand refresh?

You're behind the times

The most obvious sign you need a brand refresh is when your brand looks, sounds, and/or feels outdated. If you’ve gone a decade or more without updating your verbal or visual identity, then it's a clear signal to refresh your brand. It’s also a way to show your existing customers that you’re aware of changing trends and evolving needs— and are ready to meet them.

The competition is fierce

When you notice new players entering the scene or big names getting bigger, that's your cue to consider a brand refresh. A brand refresh can help you keep up with evolving competition and find new ways to connect with your target audience. Refreshing your brand can help your business stand out from competitors and set yourself apart from your rivals.

Missing the mark

If you've noticed that your marketing efforts aren't hitting the mark, your current branding might need a refresh. It could be that your brand image or brand identity doesn’t reflect your core values or where you're headed. So perhaps try to explore new ways to engage with your target audiences and strengthen your impression with a brand refresh.

Where to begin?

At Rhythm, we can audit your current brand identity and identify fresh opportunities to boost your brand. Whether that’s rebuilding your visual identity or steering your brand strategy in a new direction, our team of seasoned professionals is dedicated to understanding your business and guiding you every step of the way.