Rebrand or Brand Refresh?

An example of Rumbletree’s rebrand with Bedford Village Inn.

No brand lives forever without evolution. Or rebirth. There will come a time when your brand needs an overhaul to a certain degree, whether it’s a refresh or a full rebrand. 

It’s a crucial step in moving your company forward and positioning your organization for future success. Your current brand system may be limiting or dated, carry negative connotations, or have been created to target an audience that is no longer relevant. More likely, some combination of many issues has built up over time. This is your opportunity to assess what’s working and what isn’t. To start clean, with your current goals and audience in mind, and create something that is more true to your core. It’s also kind of fun. Read on to find out which approach might make the most sense for you.

1. Your brand kinda sucks

Let’s get this one out of the way quickly. If your brand was never very meaningful, relevant or credible, you’re probably a candidate for a rebrand. Take the opportunity to explore an entirely cohesive new brand, including logo, identity, attributes, messaging and more.

Tender Greens rebrand came at a time where a fresh menu, (including more than just salads) needed to be properly conveyed to customers. Designed by Paula Scher, this new look adds to the wide-variety of the menu and creates a unique shape with the letter “g” portraying a pan and a plate.

Verdict: Rebrand

2. Your audience or products have changed

You used to be known for no-frills products at a great price, but now you’re moving upscale. Or, you named your company ‘Gary’s Ski Chalet’ long before you realized you’d sell way more skateboards than snowboards. In both cases, it’s well worth investigating a rebrand to shake off old perceptions and reach new audiences.

Coach Inc., the parent company of Coach, took on a more diverse approach to the fashion industry in 2015, with the intent of becoming a house of brands after it’s acquisition of Kate Spade New York. With this addition, the company needed a new name to signal change and leave more room for future brands to join.

Verdict: Rebrand


3. Your brand is dated

It may seem obvious that a dated brand needs to be killed with fire, but it’s not so cut and dry. If your branding is still relevant and functional—but just happens to look at home on the dashboard of a Delorean—you’re better off holding on to what’s working and refreshing some of the design aesthetics. Skilled designers can find a way to evolve your branding without losing its essence. As an aside, brands go out of date much faster when their look and feel relies too heavily on current design trends. Try to avoid the trap of mimicking what’s hot now, unless you’re very good at predicting the future.

Remax refreshed their brand with the idea of appealing to a younger audience in terms of where first-time home buyers would be searching for their services: digitally. Remax is a classic brand, “but it’s only classic because it’s been around for more than 40 years not because it was particularly good.” Case in point, the brand is iconic because it has been around for some time, but the look needed a bit of refreshing. Remax’s new logo appeals to all digital platforms where most of their clients interact with the brand: online, email and via their phones. This proved successful because the final product needed to look good on a smartphone and on a yard sign.

Verdict: Refresh

4. Your brand system is limited

When your brand was first being developed, you didn’t think you’d need 23 versions of your logo and a 30-page style guide. Or maybe when you launched with two employees, the MS Paint logo you created fit the bill just fine. Now your company is growing up, and your branding needs are more varied and far-reaching. You need order and a set of clearly defined rules that can be applied company-wide. 

If you are happy with your brand overall, but find the lack of rules, consistency, and a true system are dragging your branding efforts down, you may be a candidate for a brand refresh.

SXSW (South by Southwest), is a growing conference and festival in Austin, TX, that celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Each year Foxtrot would wipe the slate clean by reimagining and creating a new look and feel for the event. Question: How do you create an established brand if the look and feel is constantly being redeveloped each year? Answer: Create a master brand. Foxtrot’s solution was effortless and systematic, allowing for a clean starting point to build off of every year to “fully unify the brand and shape the future role of digital services for the conferences and festivals.”

Verdict: Refresh

5. Your brand carries negative connotations

No company wishes to be in this position, but it does happen. If your brand is carrying baggage from past mistakes or poor performance, a rebrand can help clean the slate with consumers and reinforce a perception of positive change. Note that ‘talking the talk’ with a new brand means you also need to ‘walk the walk.’ If the negative perceptions of your company are caused by behavior that is still going on, don’t bother. 

KFC shortened their name in the early 90’s with the idea that they weren’t just “fried” anymore. While today this term has negative connotations with certain health trends being implemented by a lot of fast-food restaurants, KFC’s name change is not only smart for business, it’s smart for the design too.

Verdict: Rebrand

Now that you are a bit of an expert on the differences between a rebrand and a refresh, take some time to see if your company or business is in need of one or the other. Also, take a look at our work page to check out some of Rumbletree’s successful brand developments!

Tender Greens