Five signs you’re ready for a brand refresh.

January 28, 2016  

A brand refresh — which can be anything from adjusting your logo’s color to a full-on messaging update — can help your organization’s story align with what you stand for and your current offer. But when should you hit the reset button on your brand? Easy: if any or all of the circumstances below sound familiar.

1) There have been changes in your industry.

A strong brand works hard for you. It defines who and what you are, and should undergird everything you do to attract new and returning customers or audiences. How your organization looks and sounds may need to shift as your industry does.

As you take the temperature of your marketplace and your audiences, consider recent changes and your predictions for the future. Then examine how well they align with your current brand. Chances are you might get a better response with a few updates.

Airbnb LogoThe Airbnb community had outgrown the Airbnb brand. The company’s popularity had skyrocketed since its lodging services were first launched, and the young startup needed a new identity to reflect its uniqueness in this freshly legitimized market.

The refresh included the slogan “Belong Anywhere,” emphasizing the brand’s egalitarian and transformative qualities — just as anyone can list their space for rent, anyone can customize or redraw the logo. This updated message nods to the shared spaces that make up Airbnb’s offer and reaffirms that its customers can make themselves at home wherever they choose.

2) There have been changes in your company.

If you’ve recently changed aspects of your organization — updated technology, internal reorganization, a shift in demographic focus, the list goes on — a brand update can not only align your organization internally; it can also appeal to new audiences and reflect your offer more accurately.

Starbucks LogoThe java mainstay dropped the words “Starbucks Coffee” from its mermaid logo to reflect a new internal push to grow the company beyond coffee and cafés. CEO Howard Schultz had this to say about the tweaked logo: “It embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel more suitable for the future. The new interpretation of the logo at its core is the exact same essence of the Starbucks experience. We’ve allowed her [the mermaid] to come out of her circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee.”

3) Your brand feels dated. And not in a good way.

Here’s where things can get tricky. Let’s be clear: A brand that hasn’t been changed in a while doesn’t automatically need an update. (Remember when Tropicana revised its orange juice logos and lost visibility — and $33 million in sales?) Some brands only need minor tweaks to stay current.

If your brand’s got the blahs, try to pinpoint what it is exactly that feels out of date. Is it the tone of voice? The slogan? The logo? The graphics? Or does the whole thing need an overhaul? By rethinking the stagnant elements, you can save time and money and ensure your brand remains current and relevant.

General Electric LogoGE is a powerhouse. And brand recognition like GE’s isn’t something to mess with. But sometimes legacy can be a double-edged sword: How do you usher a longstanding brand into the modern era without messing up what still works? For GE, the solution wasn’t in a new logo, but rather in updating its messaging and social media strategy. New advertisements humanized the company’s work by making its engineers and scientists everyday heroes. Meanwhile, experimental storytelling through social media assured customers that GE was as current as it was memorable.

4) You’re not clear about what makes you special.

Weak brands lack authenticity, clarity, and consistency. Authenticity creates an experience that’s unique to your brand and protects you from false impressions. Clarity refines your message and eradicates confusion, and consistency reinforces your overall purpose. All three elements foster confidence and trust.

By focusing your brand, you can help your audiences know exactly what they can expect. And a refresh is a great opportunity to make sure your brand is simple, strong, and smart.

Comedy Central LogoComedy Central’s longtime logo wasn’t dynamic enough for a network that was quickly changing the landscape of comedy, news, and social TV programming. A new identity starred the channel’s name, with “Central” rotated upside down—a look that was funny and smart, and echoed the channel’s fresh content. A simplified C-within-a-C mark became a quick stamp for the network’s videos, clips, and memes online. Its resemblance to a busted-up copyright symbol was a playful homage to comedy’s cool irreverence.

5) It’s your anniversary. (Congrats, by the way.)

A milestone can be a great impetus for taking stock of your brand. Perhaps your brand’s messaging should take on a different tone. Maybe this is a chance to try something truly groundbreaking. Time provides a natural demarcation for a brand refresh. See it as an opportunity to not only celebrate, but evaluate and elevate.

Belk logoA few years before its 125th anniversary, Belk reworked its mission and brand identity. The retailer hadn’t touched its logo and tagline since 1967, and the company was looking to stand out from its competitors, at a time when department stores felt increasingly interchangeable. “Modern. Southern. Style.” became the chic new tagline, reflecting findings from more than 30,000 customer interviews about what made Belk unique. The slogan was both proud and aspirational, celebrating new customers (modern) and traditional ones (Southern), and underscoring Belk’s overarching offer (style).