You ever get the feeling that your brand has gotten a little… stale? Sure, things are going well, but as your business grows and becomes more successful, there will come a time when you need an update. A refresh. And don’t worry—we’re not talking anything too wild, just sprucing up your logo, marketing materials, and maybe your tagline or slogan.
While a brand used to be limited to the fixed pieces given to a product like its name, colors, and logo, today a brand is much more than that. A brand now involves the tangible fixed pieces, plus the powerful emotional side that exists in a consumer’s mind—including the feelings, expectations, and experiences they have when engaging with a company.
A brand refresh is less of an investment and risk than an entire rebrand. With a rebrand, you overhaul everything, likely because your business or target audience has changed significantly, there’s a new CEO in town, or you’re pivoting and offering something completely different.
A refresh is a way to keep up with your customers and the ever-changing marketplace, and to give your business a more modern look. From Disney to Starbucks and everyone in between, even the most iconic brands update things every once in a while.
But how do you know if you need a brand refresh? Here are a few ways to tell.
1. Your customer base or target audience has evolved
Note we say “evolved” here, not changed completely. If you are shifting your focus from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, you will need to rebrand. If you are expanding to include both Millennials and Xennials/Gen X, you might just need to tweak a few things here and there.
The most important thing is that no matter who your audience is, you get clear on who they are and what they value so that your brand/marketing/offerings speak to them.
2. Your product or services are expanding
Again, if you are moving from making sunglasses to offering landscaping services, you will need to rebrand. But if you are expanding your current products or services to include something new, you might just need to refresh things.
Take Starbucks, for example. A company that once focused solely on coffee and tea now also sells wraps, muffins, and more. They didn’t stop making drinks, so they’ve never needed a complete rebrand, but they have refreshed their logo and marketing materials over the years to reflect that they are about “about a lot more than coffee.” Another good example of this is Netflix. They’ve managed to evolve from a mail-order DVD company to a streaming network that produces their own shows. Their marketing looks different now than it did 10 years ago.
3. Your logo feels outdated
What attracted audiences in 1990 is not what attracts audiences today, nor will it be what attracts audiences 20 years from now. If your business has been around for more than a decade and you’ve never updated your logo, now might be the time.
Conversely, if your business is only a few years old but you jumped on a trendy bandwagon that is no longer trendy (it happens to the best of us!) or as your business has grown you’ve realized your logo no longer reflects the direction you’re going in, you may need a refresh. Consider small changes to your existing logo or starting over and coming up with a totally new one.
4. Your visual messaging is inconsistent
If your marketing materials don’t all have the same colors, fonts, and general vibe, you need a refresh to get everything looking cohesive and on-brand. This includes business cards, flyers, your website, social media accounts—a customer should be able to see any of these and know immediately that it’s all the same company.
5. You don’t have a style guide
It’s a heck of a lot easier for everyone to be on the same page company-wide when employees have access to a style guide. It includes everything from your brand mission and acceptable/unacceptable logo usage to the fonts, colors, and images that you want to represent your company. Creating a style guide is a great way to get super clear and consistent across the board.
6. Your current branding no longer reflects your values or your message has evolved
Like many of the other examples, if you are completely changing directions, you’ll want to rebrand from top to bottom, but if you are shifting your focus or your values have evolved, a refresh is probably all you need.
A good example of this is Coca-Cola. Initially branded as a healthy and medicinal “cure-all” in the late 1800s, the soda company has changed its branding and messaging to keep up with the times over the years (and dropped the cocaine and opium that it once contained!). Today, Coca-Cola remains one of the most popular brands in the world because they continuously tweak their marketing and messaging to stay relevant.
7. Your brand doesn’t stand out anymore
If you’ve read Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow,” you know he talks about how something is remarkable until it’s not. You are different until there is a sea of purple cows all offering the same thing. (If you have no idea what we’re talking about, go get a copy of “Purple Cow” and read it asap. We’ll wait.)
Even if you had a brilliant, groundbreaking product or service idea, once everyone else is doing it, you no longer stand out and you’ll want to refresh your brand so that you continue to be noticed among all the other companies. We’ve seen this in many tech companies: Microsoft, IBM, and Apple have all changed their logos and branding over the years as they’ve evolved and to separate themselves from each other. If you think about each of those three companies when they started, you probably have a different perception of the brand than you do now.
8. Growth has slowed down or stalled
All of the above can lead to growth slowing down or even stalling. If potential (or even current) customers don’t resonate with your branding or messaging, they aren’t going to buy from you.
Now more than ever, people want to feel connected to brands that have the same values and beliefs as them, which means your outdated logo could actually be costing you.
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