What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?

a brand refresh and a rebrand

Are you thinking your brand needs a change?

Perhaps the marketplace is evolving, you want to appeal to new audiences or you’ve started to offer new products.

You may be thinking it’s time for a rebrand. Or is it a refresh?

Often these two terms are used interchangeably when actually they’re very different.

And knowing the difference between the two is key if your brand’s change is to be a success.

Here we break down the differences so you can make the right decision.

What is a brand refresh?

A brand refresh is when surface-level changes are made, while the core of your brand stays the same. Think of it like redecorating your house. You’re not going in with a bulldozer and sledgehammers to do a complete rebuild. You’re updating your colour scheme or getting a new living room furniture set.

So, your strategy, mission, vision and purpose remains, but your visuals, voice, messaging or product offering change.


When do you need a brand refresh?

There are several reasons why your brand may be ready for a refresh:


You’re stuck in the past

What we like and dislike, what we need and how we communicate is continuously changing. If your brand doesn’t evolve with the times, you’re at risk of becoming old news, being forgotten by customers or actively avoided. Customers want a brand that’s relevant, so be sure to keep up.


You’re updating your service or product offering

Your brand needs to reflect what you offer to customers, so if that’s changing, your brand needs to as well.


Your audience is confused about you

As technology develops and new channels of communication are available, the number of brand touchpoints increase. If you’ve noticed how you’re presenting your brand on social media is different to the print ads you run or the blogs you write, a refresh may be needed to realign.


You want to expand your reach

If you’re trying to target new audiences without alienating your existing audience base, a refresh is a good idea. This way you stay recognisable and familiar, whilst also appealing to a different segment.


But perhaps small tweaks don’t suffice, maybe you’re looking for a complete overhaul. That’s when a rebrand is called for.


What is a rebrand?

A rebrand is a complete transformation, it’s the reinvention of your brand. It’s knocking everything down and starting from scratch; this is the house demolition. 

A rebrand can mean a new identity, revised name, different value proposition, strategy change or a visual overhaul.


Why do you need to rebrand?

This is when you know you need a rebrand:


You want to reposition

If you want to shift the focus around who you are, what you offer and how you’re different in order to change how your brand is perceived,  a rebrand can do that.


New leadership

A brand’s identity is usually created by the person at the top, and so is in line with who they are, what they know and their vision for the brand. When this leadership changes, it’s important to consider the effect of this switch. If there are pretty profound differences between the old and new CEO, a rebrand can be a valuable means of reflecting this shift.


Your customer has completely changed

It may be that your target audience is disengaging with your brand and subtle changes won’t cut it. Or perhaps you’ve decided you want to target an altogether different consumer base. If either of these apply, a rebrand may be the best way to get you those customers.


Your reputation has been damaged

If your brand has been involved in some sort of scandal, rebranding may be the only solution. A refresh won’t do, since people can very easily see through surface-level changes. The change needs to go deeper, consumers need to see you’ve made fundamental differences. Only then is there hope for your brand to bounce back.


You’re merging

You may have merged with a company that has a different position in the marketplace, a different target audience and a different product or service offering. You need to rebrand so consumers know who you are and what you do.


To sum up

All brands have to change at some point if they’re going to last. What worked in 2000 is extremely unlikely to work today. Opinions, technology, preferences, politics, it’s all moved on.

And you must move with it.

The extent to which your brand needs to change, what needs to be new and why that’s how you decide whether it’s time for a rebrand or refresh. If you’d like help with either, get in touch today.

What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand? 1
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