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Refreshing vs. Redesign vs. Rebranding

Branding is crucial for both well-established companies and new startups. Your company’s brand is more than distinctive colours and logo; it reflects your business’s values and represents an image your consumers can relate to. When consumers associate specific values and principles with your brand, it gains influence and attracts new customers while also increasing loyalty and engagement among the existing ones.


In recent times, it’s not enough to just convert prospects into customers. A strong brand is an influencer that understands the needs of the audience. You have to tell an exciting brand story for customers to build a strong connection between them and the company. This goal is impossible to achieve if you don’t stay in touch with your audience and don’t adjust your brand to its preferences, which constantly change.


Are you contemplating a rebrand? Perhaps you are not so inspired by your logo anymore, or you feel like the aesthetics do not speak to your values, or you are branching into new territories (such as new products or new geographies) with your company.


It’s easy to confuse a rebrand with a brand refresh, but ultimately, they serve two different purposes.


Many successful companies change with time, adjusting their brands to the market, but what do they actually do? Is it called refreshing, redesigning or rebranding? These terms indeed have a lot in common; however, they are also quite different if you look closer.


Rebranding; it’s a complex process that requires serious preparation. It requires you to come up with a new brand story and philosophy. Sometimes, rebranding also means targeting a new market.


You may opt for a rebrand if you see that the current brand is no longer practical for the necessary audience or if you fundamentally change your business. Rebranding is also required when companies merge or when they plan to conquer a new industry. It will also be a good solution if your established brand lacks consistency or fails to communicate its message.


A company rebrand is an extensive endeavour that involves completely removing the brand’s basic structure and starting over. A company typically pursues this strategy if the current brand identity is confusing, contradictory, or misrepresenting the core of its mission.


Basically, rebranding is about taking control of what your audiences think – and say – about your brand. It implies undergoing significant changes in your strategy before you get involved in tactical details of execution.


Brand refresh; is a makeover for your company. Think of it like a personal makeover … a better haircut, fresh outfit, and new shoes that transform how a person is perceived. It’s the same with your brand.


A brand refresh isn’t a fundamental change; it’s primarily focused on your logo’s appearance and some minor details, adjusting them according to the current trends. You may need to refresh your brand if you want to update it and make it more appealing to your existing audience. It will also be a good solution if you face a need to address specific market conditions or if your brand’s connection and offerings are lost.


In theory, if a business engages in periodic refreshes, it might never need to undergo a complete rebranding, as slow, gradational changes over time keep it connected to its customers.



A refresh can keep or update recognised visual elements. Or a new look, tone and presentation of the overall style will bring fresh recognition; it may include changing your slogan, tweaking your logo and fonts, adjusting the colours, and updating marketing materials.


If a brand is not completely outdated, companies often choose refreshing instead of complete rebranding. This way, they can preserve the existing brand’s integrity while making it more relevant and reaching a wider audience.



However, a brand refresh involves updating and building upon the brand structure that is already known and loved. Rather than a complete overhaul, it consists of an update to visual elements, tweaks to messaging, or other differentiators’ changes.


On the other hand, a brand redesign involves more in-depth changes. It often implies creating an entirely new logo and visuals.



Why Might You Choose to Refresh a Brand?

The marketplace changes over time. New competitors enter the market; new technologies alter business models, and fashions ebb and flow. To stay relevant, businesses should audit their brand occasionally to determine what’s working and what isn’t.


Occasional brand refreshes based on these audits’ results are an excellent way to make gradational changes that keep your brand fresh without damaging the equity you’ve worked hard to build.


In theory, if a business engages in periodic refreshes, it might never need to undergo a complete rebranding, as slow, gradational changes over time keep it connected to its customers, current trends, and the state of its industry. This is the preferred strategy. Brand refreshes are far less risky than a total brand overhaul.


The brand refresh process: Your brand refresh strategy

Generally, the process is pretty simple. Unlike in a total rebrand, where many manhours, lengthy consultation, and guidance are required, a brand refresh only needs some limited research, competitor analysis, and an excellent creative brief.


The primary thing to remember about a brand refresh is that everything is superficial. It’s like coming home to a flat with a new lick of paint and new furniture – the feel is different, but the underlying structure remains the same.


Although a refresh can definitely promote the development of new and improved visual identity guidelines, as well as an extensive brand implementation program, do remember that your brand is more than just a logo and colour pallet. Be sure you think about the structural stability before you begin.


Once you’re sure that the brand refresh process is right for you, these are the steps you’ll follow:


  1. Research and discovery

Brand development requires research, but this is something that’s often overlooked and undervalued by many companies. It’s crucial to figure out what you want to achieve with your brand refresh and what you need to do to reach your goals. You need to conduct research to determine your brand perception and differentiation in the marketplace and what you might need to change to stay relevant.


  1. Competitive analysis

Carrying out a survey in the marketplace will give you an “idea” of which styles and trends are most effective in your industry. Do not try to copy what your competitors are doing when it comes to a brand refresh (you need to create a differentiation). The idea should be to look at a host of factors, including:

  • Brand Tone of voice.
  • Value propositions.
  • Key slogans and taglines.
  • Identity design style: Logos, colours, fonts, and styles.
  • Once you’ve done this, you should have an idea of how to keep up with your competitors and potentially make sure you stand out, too.


  1. Visual identity update

One of the primary reasons any brand engages in a brand refresh is that they have an outdated visual identity. It’s essential to make sure that your image is consistent with the marketplace you’re in and your manifesto and brand position. The idea is to stay fresh without blending into the crowd. At this stage, you examine your logo, colour pallet, photography, fonts, styles, and more to determine how they show your brand’s fundamentals.


  1. The tone of voice/messaging update

Though a brand refresh can be predominantly visual, it is vital to understand that your brand messaging is essential. Today’s marketplace is becoming increasingly concerned with the appearance of the brands that they do business with and the personality and story behind that brand. If you are refreshing your image, then it makes sense that you might need to adapt your messaging and voice too.


Brand refresh examples: A little inspiration


Mailchimp debuted its “new and improved” logo a couple of years ago. While some people sang their praises over its typographic tweaks, others barely noticed – which we think is truly the definition of a fabulous makeover.


It’s like you, only better.


This wasn’t a major refresh for Mailchimp, nor was it anything close to a brand overhaul. Some loops were made more legible, the height and weight were nipped and tucked, but overall, the refresh was so minimal that it gave people the creeping suspicion that something was different, without being able to put their finger on precisely what.



Dunkin’ didn’t change the iconic colours and font but made its name shorter and easier to remember. The fresh brand also shows us that this company isn’t specialised in doughnuts only. During the last few years, Dunkin’ coffee became very popular, so the company decided to help new customers avoid confusion. The brand no longer belongs to a specific niche, so the customers shouldn’t wonder whether they can buy something other than doughnuts. Dunkin’ proves that sometimes, brands don’t need to change a lot or to start from scratch. Sometimes, even minor details may help you achieve your goals.


Refreshed YouTube design: It’s not an entirely new look; it’s more of a makeover. The colour scheme and typography remain essentially unchanged, but it also allows the mark to be more easily separated into elements. Outside of the industry, it could have gone unnoticed. This kind of refresh doesn’t alienate users and adds dynamism.



A good brand refresh strategy requires less risk than rebranding, and it can still get you the results you need. For instance, by making subtle changes to your positioning and branding, you can:

  • Preserve the integrity of your brand.
  • Infuse the business with new vitality.
  • Ensure your company image keeps up with the changing marketplace.
  • Expand your reach to new customers.


Because a brand refresh is primarily cosmetic, although sometimes, it can be dramatic. In general, your aim should be to ensure that you keep your brand’s heritage and history the same. If you’re changing the fundamentals of what makes you, you, then you’re no longer conducting a brand refresh – you’re doing a complete rebrand.


Evidently, rebranding is also risky. There’s nothing worse for your business than a poorly done rebrand. Your audience should not be confused. You should consider your brand equity and make sure that the existing customers won’t feel betrayed. Besides, it’s essential to deliver a new, clear brand message instead of messing up what you already have. It’s also crucial to make sure your team resonates with the new brand image.


Do you want more information or need help with your rebrand or brand refresh? Get in touch, we are here to help.


Olayimika Babajide
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