Brand Refresh vs Rebrand: Which one is right for you?

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Your brand is a crucial part of your business, defining who you are and what you offer to your customers. You don’t want to change what works, but even the most successful brands lose relevance if they never try something new. That’s why rebranding and brand refresh exercises are so popular. They’re a safe innovation. A new twist on an established look.

But before you run off and start spending, how do know the right approach for your brand? In this article, we’ll explore the difference between brand refresh vs rebranding, so you can decide which is the best fit for you.

What is rebranding?

Rebranding is a complete overhaul of your brand’s visual identity, values, and messaging. This covers pretty much everything–name, logo, colour palette, typography and all the marketing material that comes as a result. This also often means a new website, new marketing campaigns and a new approach across the entire business. Rebranding is typically undertaken when a company has undergone significant changes such as a merger, acquisition, or change in service. However, it is also used when a brand has become outdated or is failing to connect with its target audience.

Rebranding is a major undertaking that requires significant resources and investment. It involves a complete strategic review, market research and careful planning and execution. A successful rebrand will always be a bit jarring for audiences at first, but in the long run, it allows for stronger competitor differentiation.

Rebranding case study: Dep Consulting

Let’s take a look at a real-world example: the successful rebranding of Dep Consulting. Dep Consulting is an electrical engineering company that came to Spark to completely revamp its image. The aim was to pivot away from a family-run feel to a more professional style. Something more appropriate for their large-scale, corporate clients. This meant remarketing their services to a higher-level audience, as well as creating new branded collateral.

The first step was to redesign Dep Consulting’s logo. Spark delivered a more modern, cleaner design, but still kept the iconic ‘dep’ as the star of the brand. By introducing some small elements to create a stronger silhouette, the new logo was more flexible–and more recognisable.

BEFORE

AFTER

With the logo updated, we then moved on to the brand guidelines, covering the use of new colours, fonts, messaging and imagery across every channel. This gave Dep Consulting a foundation to redesign other marketing collateral, such as capability statements and brochures, to help them secure new business.

In the end, Dep Consulting’s rebrand gave the company a unique identity. Without alienating its core customer base, the new branding elements brought the company up to speed with its competition, claiming a bold, professional look of its own.

Rebranding right for you? Try our needs checklist.

It’s important to determine from the very beginning if rebranding is the right choice for your business. Consider the questions below. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, a rebrand is likely the next step for your company:

Has your target audience shifted?

Has your audience aged? Do they have different needs now? Reassess your demographics to make sure that your messaging is reaching your customers.

Has your business model or mission changed?

Where you start is rarely where you end up. If your service has evolved, then why not embrace that change and let customers and investors see your growth.

Is your brand often confused with a competitor?

If your brand doesn’t have clear recall, then your marketing budget is being wasted. To get a foothold within your sector, you need to stand out first.

Has negative publicity damaged your reputation?

To rebuild your public reputation, you need to show a commitment to change. A thoughtful rebrand can signify you’ve taken feedback on board and are heading in a new direction.

Have you merged with or acquired another company?

Then it’s time to unify your brands to create a new, cohesive image. As you’re combining two separate customer bases, you’ll need to reflect your shared values.

Are you entering new markets or expanding your business?

Once you’ve become known for a product, it’s hard to shake that image. If you’re taking on a whole new market, something has to change for your audience to become open-minded about your service.

What is a brand refresh?

Compared to a rebrand, a brand refresh is a less drastic change to a brand’s identity. It’s more about tweaking and updating, staying up to date with audience expectations. It involves updating your messaging to better align with your company’s values and goals.

A brand refresh is typically done to stay relevant within an industry. A successful brand refresh can help a company reach further without sacrificing any of the brand recognition they’ve already earned. It’s useful when seeking to attract new customers or business opportunities.

Brand refresh case study: CJM

When CJM, a Melbourne-based Civil Construction company, approached Spark to update their image, we knew that a brand refresh was the answer. CJM already had a strong, well-established identity–it just needed to be refined. This meant polishing the existing elements to be cleaner, clearer and more consistent.

Visually, this meant making a lot of minor changes. The logo was given a more streamlined look through added shading, rounded edges and sharper resolution. To complement this, Spark also introduced a new, bolder typeface. Something that stood out as unique to CJM whilst still being easily readable.

BEFORE

Old CJM Plumbing Melbourne logo

AFTER

Current CJM Civil Melbourne logo

This provided CJM with a more vibrant, adaptable brand to play with. Its strong colours suited a range of mediums, and the logo was able to be resized and reversed without losing at-a-glance recognition.

CJM branding collage

Overall, these changes modernised CJM’s brand without moving away from their core identity. Now CJM’s marketing material is an asset, aligning with the professionalism and quality of the service they provide.

Need a brand refresh?
Go through our needs checklist.

Is a brand refresh what your business needs? Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you need to revitalise your company’s image:

Does your branding reflect your business?

If the quality of your brand isn’t up to par with the quality of your service, it’s time to fix it!

Do your customers identify with your brand?

Are you giving the right impression? A refresh can make sure you look capable to your customers.

Is your brand preventing the growth of your business?

If you’re not confident using your current branding for new marketing campaigns, you need to update your look.

Does your brand feel outdated?

If your gut tells you that you’re brand is out of touch, then you’re probably not the only one thinking the same.

Do you want to generate some buzz?

Introducing a new twist on your image gives people a reason to start talking about your brand.

Are your competitors rebranding?

Don’t wait to play catch-up. If your competitors are re-inventing themselves, you should consider doing the same.

Ready to give your brand a refresh?

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How to choose the best option

Deciding whether to do a brand refresh or a rebrand can be a difficult decision. You need to be realistic with your resources, so it’s worth considering these 4 factors before locking anything in:

What are your goals?

What are your objectives for the brand update? Are you looking to appeal to a new audience, differentiate from competitors, or reposition in the market? A brand refresh may be sufficient if you’re looking to make subtle changes, while a rebrand may be necessary if you’re undergoing a significant shift in strategy.

What is your budget?

How much can you afford to spend? Rebranding can be an expensive undertaking, involving design, marketing and content strategy. Meanwhile, a brand refresh can be chunked into smaller updates over a longer period.

What is your Brand Equity?

How much brand value do you risk losing by making a change? If you already have good recall and credibility, a brand refresh may be the safer option to avoid market loss.

What is your market perception?

Are you positioned where you want to be? If your brand isn’t resonating with the right audience, a rebrand may be necessary to reposition yourself in the market.

Conclusion

It’s important to note that this is just to help you get started. A more in-depth analysis may be necessary to determine whether a brand refresh or rebrand is the best option for your business. It’s always a good idea to consult with branding experts to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.

If you’re unsure which path to take, or you’re looking to get the ball rolling on your refresh or rebrand, our team at Spark is always happy to help. Contact us today and we can assess the current state of your brand and craft the best solutions to reach your goals.

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