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Oct 03 2023

Refresh or Rebrand: When It’s Time for a Change

Refresh vs Rebrand
At some point, brands can get worn out and begin to show their age. But a good brand has equity. So, if you have invested a lot of time and resources into your brand, how do you know when it is time for a change, and how big of a change you should make? 

The first thing to know is that when you start becoming irrelevant to your target audience, a change may be in order. The next thing to know is that a total rebranding should not be done often, and it should not be done lightly. It could be that the existing brand needs a refresh. There is a big difference. 

If a brand refresh is something like changing a paint color and getting some new furniture, rebranding is more like tearing out walls for a major remodeling job. It can involve completely renaming your company or product — or totally rethinking your brand positioning, brand values, mission and vision. 

A brand refresh focuses more on things like your visual branding and brand voice. Refreshed visual branding might include a new logo or slight update to an existing logo. It often includes an updated color palette, new photography, and a fresh new choice of typeface. A refreshed brand voice might include a new tagline — those few words that often appear just under the logo — as well as new messaging and a consistent tone. 

Unlike a complete rebranding effort which aims to change your customers’ perception of your business, organization or product, refreshing a brand gives it a modern, revitalized update while preserving the integrity of your core identity and overall strategy.  

One real-world comparison of the two approaches is Chevrolet versus Dodge pickup trucks. On one hand, Chevy has held a longstanding brand reputation for dependability and an image that fits with hard work and the American ideal. Over the years, they have kept the same logo while periodically refreshing their tagline, brand voice and product styling while maintaining their core identity.  

On the other hand, Dodge pickups had a poor public perception and a reputation for outdated styling until the company made a radical change in body style, product engineering, logo, ad styles and more in 1994. It was a tectonic shift in their entire approach to the design, manufacture and marketing of the truck — launching a new era for Ram trucks (eventually even dropping the Dodge name from their line of pickups in 2009) and flipping their public perception on its head. 

For each of those two companies to determine the best way to advance their respective brands, they needed to ask themselves some important questions. The same questions might apply to your organization or product as you plan your brand strategy for the future: 

  • Does your brand feel out-of-date? 

  • Does your brand blend in or stand out from the competition? 

  • Is your brand consistent across everything you do? 

  • Has your target audience changed? 

  • Has your overall business model or primary product/service changed? 

  • Has your brand become limiting or restricting to your growth? 

  • Can your audience easily understand your brand proposition? 

  • Does your audience’s perception align with the perception you want them to have? 

The answer to any one of these questions is unlikely to provide you with a definitive answer to whether you should rebrand, refresh, or keep going as you are. But it is imperative to remain relevant to your target audience, no matter what. The more you begin to see that your current brand is missing the mark, the greater the shift you may need to undertake. A knowledgeable branding agency like Odney can design and conduct research that not only provides clarity about your current brand, but also informs the process of developing a winning brand strategy to carry you into the future. 

From the desk of: Paul Kadrmas, Senior Copywriter 
Brand Development