Refresh vs rebrand: what’s the difference?

Ali vs Frazier. Alien vs Predator. Refresh vs rebrand. What do they all have in common? A battle between equals; one is not necessarily better than the other. They just have different strengths and weaknesses.

In a world full of white noise, standing out from the crowd is harder than ever. You might decide that now – especially now – is the time to switch things up.

So, the gloves are off, the game is on. But what’s the difference, and which one is right for your business?

What’s the difference?

A refresh gives your brand identity an update, while a rebrand changes it completely. Think of it like this: Kylie Jenner’s lip filler = a refresh. Mickey Rooney’s face lift = rebrand.

While a refresh is a more surface job, a rebrand is similar to starting from scratch, and therefore requires a lot more work. But don’t let that put you off. Sometimes, if things are really not working out, it’s better to cut your losses and try something new.

Why refresh?

Maybe your business has been going for a while (well done!), and your logo is starting to look a little dated. Or maybe you need to connect with a shifting target demographic. You may even have evolved or developed your offering, and now you need your branding to reflect this.

But – you don’t want to totally change everything. You just want to update it.

Here are some great examples of taking a recognisable logo and refining it in line with current trends. Google is sleeker, Starbucks is less fussy. It doesn’t need to be a total overhaul. Just a new lick of paint.

And it’s not just about the logo. What about an updated font? A new slogan, even? These things can help you freshen up your identity, without getting too deep into it.

Online chocolate retailer Struben asked us to help with its brand refresh. Alongside designing slick new packaging, we reworked the crest logo in line with a new product launch, helping the brand to gain new distributors and become a top seller on Amazon.

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Why rebrand?

A rebrand is a more in-depth look at your branding, resulting in a complete overhaul. For example, check out Transform Magazine’s weekly round-up of rebrands, providing insight into the process each brand undertook and showing what can be done!

If you opt for a rebrand over a refresh, it might be that you have completely changed your product or service, and so need to create a new perception of your brand. Appealing to new or existing customers or trying to set yourself apart in a booming market are also other reasons why a rebrand might be the best choice for you.

Sometimes rebrands are necessary when a business is doing badly. Now is definitely time to remember that old adage ‘fortune favours the brave’, and move towards something totally different.

As well as having a swish new logo designed, you might want to think about your brand story and message. If there are major shake-ups in the business, it’s likely your narrative needs a rethink.

For a project to redesign packaging for Philips Avent, we used consumer insights to help establish a logical way to convey information, leading to us introducing a new brand hierarchy. Now, when viewed on shelf, the brand has extra prominence thanks to the use of a strong colour and the improved design.

Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels

What do you need to consider?

  • Company values. Does your brand identity reflect what your business stands for? Your customers need to be able to look at your logo and instantly know what you’re all about.
  • Marketing strategy. Does your brand identity work with your marketing materials? Think about how well it interacts with other areas of your business.
  • Target market. Is this shifting? Or is it changing completely? A careful assessment of this will help you work out whether you need a refresh, or a rebrand.

Still not sure which way to go? Talk to us!

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