Brand refresh vs. Rebranding: Choosing the right path for your business

Tracy Steffensen

In the ever changing landscape of business, maintaining a relevant and compelling brand is essential for long term success. As your business evolves, you may find yourself contemplating whether a brand refresh or a complete rebrand is the best solution. It is crucial to know the difference between these two strategies to avoid wasting valuable time and resources on an approach that may not align with your current business situation.

Having completed both for many clients over the years, we will provide you with valuable insights to help you determine which approach is most suitable for your business. We will also offer tips to assist you in making an informed decision, including the potential benefits of engaging a marketing agency.

The difference between a Brand Refresh and rebrand

A brand refresh involves updating certain elements of your existing brand whilst maintaining its core identity. This approach is typically employed to breathe new life into a brand, enhance relevance and align with current trends. A brand refresh may involve updating the visual identity, such as logos, typography and color schemes, or refining messaging and brand positioning. It aims to revitalise the brand without undergoing a complete overhaul, which can be costly.

Australian brands that have successfully undergone a brand refresh:

  • Qantas. This iconic Australian airline embarked on a brand refresh in 2016. The airline introduced a new logo and visual identity that retained its recognisable kangaroo symbol but with a more streamlined and modern design. The brand refresh aimed to reflect qantas transformation into a contemporary airline whilst maintaining its strong brand heritage and reputation.
  • Target Australia. In 2019, this popular retail chain underwent a significant brand refresh. The company updated its logo, store design and product offerings to create a more modern and customer-centric shopping experience. The brand refresh aimed to position Target as a destination for affordable and stylish products, appealing to a broader audience.

Rebranding, on the other hand, entails a more extensive transformation of your brand. It involves significant changes in the brand’s identity, purpose and positioning. Rebranding may be necessary if your business has undergone a substantial shift in products/services, target market, or values. It often involves a complete redesign of the visual identity, redefining brand messaging and realigning the brand to reflect the new strategic direction.

Australian brands that have successfully undergone a rebranding:

  • PwC Australia. This leading professional services firm underwent a rebranding in 2010. The firm changed its name from PricewaterhouseCoopers to the abbreviated PwC and introduced a new logo and visual identity. The rebranding aimed to modernise the brand and align it with the changing expectations and demands of its clients.
  • SBS. The Special Broadcasting Service went through a rebranding process in 2018. The Australian multicultural broadcaster introduced a new logo, visual identity and brand positioning. The rebranding aimed to align SBS with its mission of promoting diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity whilst also adapting to the evolving media landscape.

How do you determine whether you need to refresh or rebrand

When faced with the decision to refresh your brand or embark on a complete rebranding journey, take these essential steps into consideration:

  • Assess your brand’s performance. Evaluate your brand’s current performance, including market share, customer perception and competitive landscape. Identify any areas where your brand may be falling short in terms of relevance, differentiation, or market positioning. Determine whether a brand refresh or rebranding is required to address these shortcomings effectively.
  • Understand the need for change. Assess the driving factors behind your desire for a brand transformation. Is it a result of evolving market trends, a need to target a new audience or a strategic shift in your business? Determine if a brand refresh is sufficient to address these changes, or if a complete rebranding is necessary to align your brand with the new direction.
  • Consider customer perception. Analyse customer feedback, surveys and market research to understand how your target audience perceives your brand. Identify any areas where your brand image may be outdated, disconnected, or failing to resonate with your desired audience. Determine whether a brand refresh can bridge the gap between customer expectations and your brand’s current perception or if a more comprehensive rebranding is required.
  • Evaluate competitive positioning. Assess how your brand compares to your competitors in terms of visual identity, messaging and market positioning. Identify any gaps or opportunities where a brand refresh or rebranding could enhance your competitive advantage. Determine if a refresh or rebranding is necessary to differentiate your brand and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Seek expert guidance. For those who lack the marketing manpower, consider engaging a marketing consultant or a marketing agency in your area that specialises in branding and creative services. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and strategic guidance to help you determine the best path forward. Leverage their knowledge and experience to assess whether a brand refresh or rebranding will yield the desired results for your business.

Choosing between a brand refresh and rebranding is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. It’s best to talk to an expert if you don’t know what to do.

If you need our help to ensure your brand remains relevant, resonates with your target audience and drives business growth in an ever evolving marketplace, contact us for a free consultation.

Also read: Is it time to refresh your brand

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