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What’s the Difference Between a Brand Refresh and a Rebrand?

What’s the Difference Between a Brand Refresh and a Rebrand?

It is completely normal for companies to evolve as they offer new services, expand to new places, or experiment with new products. However, as your business expands or changes, you might find yourself contemplating a brand refresh or a rebrand. While these two terms sound like they might be interchangeable, there are key differences between the two that determine which one might be more appropriate for your company. In this blog, we will be covering the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand.

What Is a Brand Refresh?

A brand refresh is updating your brand instead of replacing or transforming it entirely. For example, a brand refresh would be like painting the walls in your kitchen a different color instead of remodeling the entire kitchen. Brand refreshes primarily focus on visual components and not more practical aspects of the brand.

A brand refresh is ideal for companies that do not need to make major changes and already have a concrete brand story, strategy, and philosophy. They are ideal if you want to refresh one part of your brand instead of starting from the beginning. Typically, your major messaging will not change at all. Some of the most common types of brand refreshes include changing the font of the company title, updating the logo, or changing the company colors.

What Are Examples of a Brand Refresh?

If you are an avid social media user or even just a casual Internet browser, you have seen many brand refreshes over the course of the past few years. For example, every time Google has updated the font that its name is displayed in, it is a brand refresh. Whenever Instagram updates its logo on your phone home screen, it’s also a brand refresh. In these cases, the company changed what they looked like but did not change any of the core features that they offered. Fonts and color palette changes are two of the most common types of brand refresh tools.

What Is a Rebrand?

A brand refresh does not transform the identity of the company typically beyond superficial things, like the logo or the colors that it is printed in. In contrast, rebranding completely makes over a business. During a rebranding transformation, you can get rid of virtually everything about your company now and choose things that fit you better. A rebrand will include things like developing a new mission statement, honing a new brand story, customizing a new marketing strategy, and even updating your target audience.

If a business is ready for a complete re-brand, it means that the business is ready to totally change how people currently see them. It’s important to note that while a rebrand is more comprehensive and thorough than a brand refresh, you do not need to get rid of everything about who you are. There is no need to change your name or even change your logo unless those fit in with your plans for your rebrand. Because rebrands are much more involved than a brand refresh, they also typically take longer to plan and execute.

What Are Examples of a Rebrand?

There are two core types of rebrands, reactive rebrands and proactive rebrands. Reactive rebrands occur when a company feels like its hand has been forced to make fundamental changes. For example, if your brand has experienced negative publicity due to something outside of your control, rebranding might be the best way to re-capture your market share and move on without the old name hanging over you. A reactive rebrand could also occur when you realize that your company is using a name that is similar enough to another business that it causes confusion. Instead of deciding to complete a rebrand on your own, a reactive rebrand is all about you reacting to something that has happened to your business.

In contrast, proactive re-brands are all about businesses taking control of their perception in the market and preparing for future changes. What are some of the reasons why a company might choose to complete a proactive rebrand?

  • Their current market is very saturated
  • Their current brand strategy is not effective with their target demographic
  • They want to reach a new audience or a different audience from the one they are currently reaching
  • The brand is no longer viable
  • They want to offer new services or products that do not make sense with the current branding
  • The brand identity does not match other goals of the business in the short term and long term
  • The business has never had a brand story or mission statement

One of the most notable examples of rebranding took place with Apple. Apple was once known as Apple Computer, and the only products that they manufactured were computers. Today, Apple is known for a variety of tech devices including tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and phones. By rebranding as just Apple, the company was able to shed its image as only producing computers and move on to something new.

A similar example is Starbucks. Starbucks was initially known as Starbucks Coffee, which cemented it in the minds of consumers as a place to get coffee. However, today we all know that Starbucks is about much more than coffee. By removing “coffee” from the logo, Starbucks was able to rebrand as a place that offered tea, non-caffeinated drinks, and food that goes beyond what you might expect to find in a coffeeshop. 

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