How to Pull Off a Successful Brand Refresh

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A brand refresh could be one of the most valuable ways to boost your brand’s equity and reputation, increase sales, and remain relevant to your target audience. 

While consistency is important in branding (in fact, 68% of companies say consistency has helped them boost revenue by 10% or more), that doesn’t mean your brand should never evolve. I’ve seen countless companies lose customers and market share because they fail to update their brands to adapt to changing market dynamics and customer preferences. 

If you’re not constantly evolving, you risk becoming outdated and falling behind your competitors. Working with a branding consultant on a brand or logo refresh ensures you can retain your competitive edge. Here’s how you can ensure your strategy drives results.

What is a Brand Refresh?

Brand refresh concept icon

A brand refresh is the process of making strategic changes or updates to your brand’s identity or image. The changes you make should ensure your brand identity better aligns with your vision, values, and the preferences of your target audience. 

Brand refreshes are more common than you might think. In fact, most companies consider completely rebranding every 7-10 years, with minor refreshes in between to stay relevant. 

A refresh can include everything from updating your logo and color palette, to your company’s tone of voice, messaging style, and website. The important thing to remember is that a brand refresh isn’t the same as a rebrand. 

Brand Refresh vs. Rebrand

brand refresh and rebrand are two very different things. With a refresh, you simply update aspects of your brand identity while retaining aspects that still resonate with your brand. For instance, Mastercard took part in a “logo refresh” strategy and updated parts of its identity to make itself appear more modern to a younger audience.

With a rebrand, you make substantial changes to your entire brand identity. This could mean rethinking your brand values and positioning strategy, changing your name, and more. As an example, Facebook rebranded when it became “Meta”. 

While comprehensive rebrands are sometimes necessary when a company changes its focus, aims to target a new audience, or needs to escape a scandal (like Meta), they’re expensive and risky.

If your brand already has a strong connection with your target audience and just needs a small update, a refresh is often the best option.

The Benefits of a Brand Refresh 

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Though a brand refresh or logo refresh is less expensive and time-consuming than a complete rebrand, it can be complex to implement. You’ll need to conduct extensive research to ensure you’re tweaking or updating your company’s presence in a way that resonates with your audience (without alienating existing customers). 

However, a successful brand refresh gives you an incredible opportunity to re-engage with your customers, connect with future buyers, and even outperform the competition. It can even help you avoid negative PR and improve your brand’s equity. 

Used correctly, a brand refresh ensures you can:

  • Remain relevant: Your company, customers, and target market are always evolving, and your brand should be, too. A brand refresh means you can stay relevant in your marketplace, connect more effectively with existing and new customers, and outshine competitors.
  • Boost your reach: Refreshing your brand strategy can be an excellent way to capture the attention of new customers. It allows you to refine your identity so you can showcase your value to new markets without alienating your existing customer base.
  • Realign with your brand values: Your brand isn’t just a logo. Your identity needs to reflect your values and vision as a company. If customers aren’t aware of your values based on your current branding, a refresh can boost your chances of forging emotional connections. 
  • Increase sales: Outdated and irrelevant brands naturally lose sales over time. In fact, according to one study, 65% of companies refresh their brand specifically due to lost sales. The right strategy can boost your chances of sales and even help with repositioning your brand so you can charge higher prices for your products.
  • Improve your marketing ROI: With a brand refresh to update your visual identity and messaging strategy, you can create more impactful and engaging marketing materials. You can even align yourself with thought leaders and influencers to boost your reputation.

How to Launch a Successful Brand Refresh: Step by Step

An effective brand refresh requires a careful strategy, developed based on extensive research, and knowledge of your existing brand identity. Here are the key steps involved in pulling of a successful brand refresh without the unnecessary risks. 

Step 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Brand Audit

Handwritten Brand Audit report on the black piece of paper

The first thing you’ll need for a successful brand refresh strategy is a deep insight into which parts of your brand strategy are working and which aren’t. This means conducting a comprehensive “audit” of your brand’s existing assets. Most branding consultants will be able to do this for you, but if you want to start independently, here are the key points to consider:

Questions about your brand identity

  • What is your mission and vision as a company? Are they reflected by your current brand?
  • What kind of image or identity do you want to project?
  • Do you have a specific value proposition?
  • Can you define a brand archetype and tone of voice for your brand?
  • What are your current brand’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you compare to your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the current trends in your industry?

Questions about your brand assets

  • What are your current marketing strategies and channels?
  • Is your brand website up-to-date and informative?
  • Do you offer an excellent customer experience via your website?
  • Is your content strategy up-to-date and optimized for SEO?
  • How effective are your social media campaigns?
  • Are the elements of your brand applied consistently to your marketing assets?
  • Are you achieving a good return on investment with your campaigns?

Questions about your customers

  • Who are your customers, and what are their key characteristics?
  • Have your customers changed in recent years?
  • What do customers say about your brand, and how do they describe you?
  • Would your customers recommend you to friends and relatives?
  • How recognizable is your brand to your intended customer base?
  • Are there new markets you can consider exploring?

Step 2: Assemble and Collaborate with your Brand Refresh Team

A team of marketers having a meeting using one laptop

Once you’ve answered all of the questions above, the next step is assembling the team you’re going to work with on your refresh project. The scope of your overall strategy will impact what kind of people you need to work with. For instance, if you want to do a logo refresh, and you don’t have an internal designer, you might need to work with a freelancer

Start by defining exactly what you want to keep about your current brand identity and what you might need to change, such as:

  • Your visual assets: Your brand logo, color palette, font choices, and other imagery, such as graphics, videos, animations, illustrations, and brand photography.
  • Your messaging strategy: Your company’s tone of voice, editorial guidelines, overall personality, and marketing channels. 
  • Additional assets: Your product packaging, signage, offline advertisements, and anything else you use to promote your brand. 

Once you’ve established these things, the next step is to decide who’s going to be working on the refresh with you. Your team might consist of brand consultants and strategists, designers, copywriters, and critical stakeholders within your team.

Step 3: Create Your Messaging and Editorial Guidelines

Retro effect and toned image of a woman hand writing a note with a fountain pen on a notebook. Handwritten text BUILD A CONSISTENT BRAND MESSAGE

If you’ve decided to update your messaging and marketing strategies with your brand refresh, then there’s a lot of work to do. First you need to assess your existing messaging strategy, and how the language or tone of voice you use resonates with your target audience. 

Think about how effectively your messaging draws attention to your unique value proposition, the personality of your company, and the values you promote. Ask yourself:

  • What is your personality and tone of voice? What kind of language do you use to connect with your audience? Do you want to be seen as fun, friendly, and playful, or authoritative and professional? How can you adjust your editorial guidelines to match your intended personality and target audience?
  • What kind of content do you need to create? Which additional content assets will benefit your brand during this refresh. Do you need to create new product descriptions, update the copy on your website, or change your social media and email marketing strategy? Should you be creating new blog posts and thought leadership pieces? 
  • Which channels should you be using? How are you going to reach your audience based on what you know about their behaviors? Should you have your own podcast or radio show? Do you need to design videos for YouTube or upgrade your social media marketing strategy?

Once you’ve answered those questions, create a comprehensive set of editorial guidelines that show your employees how to use your messaging across different platforms. 

Step 4: Work on your Visual Brand Refresh

logo design brand designer sketch graphic drawing creative

Most brand refresh strategies will include an update to visual assets, such as your logo and color palette. When updating your imagery, it’s usually a good idea to work with a professional who can convey the values of your company in a modern, attractive set of assets.  

When it comes to updating your brand’s visual elements, some of the key factors to look at include:

  • Your color palette: What does your current color palette say about you? Colors have an emotional impact on people. We associate shades like blue with professionalism and red with passion and excitement. Make sure your color palette resonates with your audience. 
  • Your logo: Is your logo aligned with your brand’s identity and values? Does it look modern and up-to-date, based on the current design trends and standards? Does it work well across a range of platforms and different types of media, and what should it convey?
  • Typography: What sort of fonts and typefaces do you use for your online content, your offline assets, and your packaging? What do they say about your brand? Should you be conveying modernity with sans-serif fonts or authority with serif fonts?
  • Other visual components: Which additional assets will you need to update to match your new brand image, such as product photography, illustrations or icons on your website, images used on social media, and email marketing templates?

Just like when you create your messaging strategy, make sure you unify all of the information your employees and future contractors will need about your brand’s image into a set of guidelines. Outline everything from logo usage guidelines to color hex codes and photography styles. 

Step 5: Plan Your Brand Refresh Roll Out

Focused businessman building the word brand along with construction machines, isolated on white background

A brand refresh can be an exciting thing, but if you overhaul your brand too quickly (without warning your customers), it can cause some backlash. Usually, it’s a good idea to update customers on social media, your website, and via email, and let them know when the full refresh will be happening.

Tell them why you’re changing aspects of your brand, and reassure them that certain things will stay the same (such as your commitment to excellent customer service). To build hype and excitement about your upcoming refresh, I recommend pairing it with something for your customers.

For instance, you might combine your refresh with a limited-time sale, run a competition on social media, or give your existing customers something for free. Use your digital business card to share links to the competition or offer and enable all customers in your network to participate. This is a great way to boost your chances of maintaining engagement with existing customers. Plus, it gives you a great way to attract new potential buyers to your company too. 

Plan the stages of your brand refresh in a content calendar, complete with content you’re going to be posting on all of your digital channels in advance. Additionally, make sure you’ve updated all of the assets you’re going to be using going forward to maintain consistency. 

If you change your logo, your new logo and color palette should be present on your website, social media channels, packaging materials, and business cards before the refresh goes live.

Step 6: Monitor, Analyze and Adapt

A team of marketers looking at a graph on a big screen

Finally, a brand refresh strategy doesn’t end when you launch your new image or messaging strategy. You also need to pay attention to what customers actually think about your new brand. To evaluate the results of your campaign:

  • Create a baseline and identify core metrics: Identify the metrics you’re going to monitor to see if your brand refresh was successful, such as social media engagement levels, website traffic, or brand mentions. Create a baseline with the data you have about those metrics right now, and pay attention to how they change after your launch.
  • Leverage analytical tools: Take advantage of the analytical tools you have access to, such as Google Analytics, to see whether searches for your brand increase, or traffic on your website gets a boost after the launch.
  • Use social listening to your advantage: Take advantage of social media monitoring and listening tools to find out what customers are saying about your company. Look at how they’re describing your brand and what sort of comments they’re making. 

Be prepared to adapt if you discover that your brand refresh hasn’t had the right impact on your target audience. You may need to make small changes or revert completely to your original brand if you discover you’re actually losing customers. 

Examples of Successful Brand Refresh Campaigns

Now you have all the information you need to pull off a successful brand refresh, but sometimes it helps to draw inspiration from companies that have already aced the process. Here are some of my favorite examples of brand refresh strategies and why they worked.

1. Fiverr

Fiverr Brand Refresh, example of brand refresh

Fiverr is one of the world’s most popular freelance marketplaces, connecting people to companies looking to access specific skills. After about ten years in the industry, the company invested in a logo refresh, and an update to their visual identity. 

They expanded their color palette and created a sleek, more refined logo that still encompassed some of the elements of their existing brandmark, making sure they didn’t alienate existing customers. What made this refresh particularly impressive was the company’s decision to update its tone of voice, too, making the brand seem more modern and relatable. 

Fiverr managed to update its image without losing its essence or its existing position in the freelance marketplace landscape. 

2. Burger King

A comparison of a burger king logo

Burger King is an excellent example of a company that used a logo refresh to its advantage. In 2021, the company created a simplified, more minimalistic version of its brandmark, taking inspiration from a previous flat logo they used several decades before. 

What works about this refresh is the fact that it draws attention to the history of the company while ensuring it can resonate with a modern audience. The sleek design stands out against a sea of other fast food company logos, helping Burger King to maintain its impact in a crowded market. 

The new image feels contemporary and “retro” at the same time, ensuring Burger King can connect with a huge range of new and existing customers. 

3. Dunkin’

A group of coffee cups from Dunkin'

Dunkin’s brand refresh was a little more comprehensive than some of the brand refreshes we’ve seen over the years. It included not just a change to the company’s color palette and logo but also its name. The update was intended to highlight the fact that Dunkin’ no longer focuses exclusively on selling donuts but offers access to a wide range of products. 

Notably, this wasn’t a complete rebrand because the messaging and identity of the company remained the same. Additionally, certain aspects of Dunkin’s visual identity remain consistent, such as the bright orange color in their palette. 

The refresh was successful because it enabled Dunkin’ to better communicate with their target audience, and highlight their expanding value proposition. 

Master Your Brand Refresh Strategy

Vector creative illustration of brand word lettering typography with line icons and tag cloud on white background

Although implementing a brand refresh can be time-consuming and complex at times, it’s an excellent way to ensure your business doesn’t lose relevance in an ever-changing market. As customers and industries continue to evolve, your brand needs to adapt, or it risks becoming outdated. 

Refreshing your brand identity gives you a chance to maintain your relationship with existing audiences and expand your reach into new markets. All you need is the right strategy.

If you need help implementing a brand refresh campaign, contact Growth Collective today to be matched with one of our brand consulting or graphic design experts.

FAQs

What is the purpose of a brand refresh?

A brand refresh gives you an opportunity to update certain aspects or elements of your brand’s image or messaging to retain relevance with your target audience. It involves making simple changes to your brand identity without overhauling your entire strategy. 

What should a brand refresh include?

A brand refresh can include everything from making updates to your imagery, color palette, and brand logo, to updating your messaging and communication strategy. Make sure you have clear guidelines in place for all of the assets you update to ensure consistency.

How much does it cost to refresh a brand?

The cost of refreshing your brand identity can vary depending on the scope of your project. You may need to hire graphic designers, create new marketing campaigns, and even work with brand consultants to conduct research into your competitors and target audience. 

Rebekah Carter
Former company
About Author
Rebekah is a dedicated writer with years of experience producing exceptional content for brands around the globe. Her commitment to producing the best possible content means she’s constantly developing new skills and experience.
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