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Rebrand or refresh – which is best for your business?

Rebrand or Refresh

Your brand is your reputation. It’s how other people think and feel about your business. As Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” You can’t control it. But you can improve it by managing the things you do that influence it.

Looking after your brand is like looking after your house

Your brand needs regular care and maintenance. A thorough spring clean, occasional touching up and every few years a proper makeover. Maybe an extension. When you sell your house you want it to look at least as smart as the neighbours’. Same goes for attracting buyers to your business. Does your offering look tired and neglected alongside your competitors? Guess where the buyers are going to go?

Your brand needs to be consistent, distinctive and appropriate

Start by making sure your logo and colours, design style, imagery, messaging and use of language all work together seamlessly. To reinforce recognition and recall, you must create a consistent look and feel across everything you say and do. Online, in print and face to face. This needs proactive management and probably needs external support.

You have to be distinctive. If you look and sound like your competitors, you’ll get lost in the crowd. You need to look different and to offer something different. Copying the competition is commercial suicide. After all, what reason have customers got to come to you if you’re the same as everyone else in your sector?

Your image and communications need to be pitched right for your business. Attracting wealthy, upmarket clients won’t work if your logo and website look like they’re better suited to the local takeaway, or one of your cheaper competitors. Dress your brand to impress.

How you position your business is crucial. Do you want to be chatty and informal, or corporate and professional? Humorous and colourful, or earnest and authoritative? Make a conscious decision and manage your communications accordingly.

So, when do you need a rebrand?

A rebrand means a new logo, colours and design style. While you’re at it, you’ll want to transform your website and marketing materials. It may also involve rethinking your marketing strategy, value proposition and messaging. It’s not something to do lightly, but over time it will improve perceptions of your business. And its performance. Assuming you get it right.

  • Do it if your brand is looking very tired and old fashioned compared to your competitors.
  • Do it if you’re merging with another business and changing your name.
  • Do it if your business is making significant changes to its strategy, products and services.

Mostly, clients come to us for a rebrand when they want to improve their image, reputation and profile. Take a look at our case studies for some examples of how we’ve transformed lookalike businesses into distinctive and compelling brands.

When is a refresh enough?

Are your logo, colours and design style consistent, distinctive and appropriate? Great, don’t mess with them. It takes time to build and reinforce distinctive brand assets. If they ain’t broke, changing them is the last thing you want to do. Just make sure you get some honest, external opinions before you decide whether you’re happy to stick with what you’ve got. You’re too close to your business to make an objective judgement.

That said, your look and language will need the occasional tweak to stay current and competitive. Your logo may need simplifying to work well at smaller sizes, especially online. As with a rebrand, a refresh help you keep pace with, and ideally get ahead of the competition. It can also inject fresh energy, momentum and enthusiasm internally.

Refresh or rebrand – contrasting examples from the same sector

Very sensibly, Shell’s logo has always featured a shell. It’s evolved several times since 1900, becoming simpler each time before dropping the name altogether. Each evolution has been a logical refresh of a consistent and iconic core motif.

By contrast, BP opted for a radical rebrand in 2000 to promote its ‘beyond petroleum’ campaign. And to position itself as environmentally friendly. While the new BP brand was well designed, the underlying strategy wasn’t. The ‘beyond petroleum’ brand promise has become an object of derision as successive environmental disasters have undermined its credibility.

In conclusion

Your brand needs to keep up with and ideally outshine the Joneses’. Whether you opt to rebrand or refresh is an important part of your business strategy. It needs careful consideration, having reviewed the performance and aspirations of your company, its position relative to your competitors and whether you’re attracting the calibre of customers and staff you really want.

Beware the BP factor. Best seek professional advice if you don’t want to end up in deep water.