Brand refresh checklist

The prospect a brand refresh might seem like quite a daunting task. At first glance you might be wondering why the brand even needs a refresh. What’s wrong with the current branding? Where do you even start such a fundamental undertaking that reaches into the very foundations of the business, right down to branded pens and email signatures? But a brand refresh can not only help you better connect your company’s message with your customers, it can deliver tangible financial results too. And it’s not as unnerving as it seems — certainly not if you follow the straightforward steps in our brand refresh checklist.

What is a brand refresh?

A brand refresh is simply a sharpening-up of your company’s messaging and visuals, partly to avoid it becoming outdated, but more importantly so it reflects how your company and your customers are constantly growing and changing.

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

A brand refresh is an adjustment so that your business remains competitive within its current marketplace – more evolution than revolution. A rebranding occurs when there’s a fundamental change within the organisation like, for example, pivoting the product offering, restructuring, or a merger with another business. Such a big change will need to be reflected in the company’s branding in a way that a brand refresh would struggle to achieve. More than just tweaking visuals and colour palettes, a rebranding might include a total departure from what has gone before up to and including renaming the firm.

Why is a brand refresh important?

Time and your customers are constantly moving and if you don’t move with them, you fall behind. Branding and design from just a few years ago is already starting to look outdated. Go further back still and it can look almost laughably crude. If your company fails to adjust and refresh, it can undermine customer trust and marketplace credibility. People expect businesses and brands to keep pace with changing times, so refreshing your brand makes you look sharp, in charge of your image and hence more professional. In short, it ensures that customers take you seriously.

It’s important that your customers feel like your brand reflects them, and if your brand feels like it’s behind the times, that bond can weaken. Just as your customers grow and improve, so should your business and a brand refresh means that your messaging will reflect this. Branding that helps retain existing customers and attract new ones will ultimately benefit the company financially.

What are the benefits of a brand refresh?

  1. It keeps you connected with the shifting values of current and potential customers.
  2. It means you keep your competitive edge and don’t fall behind in the marketplace.
  3. It marks you out as being current and at the leading edge in your industry.
  4. It reflects how your company and product offering has recently grown and improved.
  5. It really can improve the bottom line.

So, convinced that a brand refresh is a good idea? Right, well how do you refresh a brand then? We’ve got it laid out below in our brand refresh checklist.

Brand refresh checklist

Discovery and research This means asking yourself some important questions like:

  • Is our brand currently doing what we need it to do?
  • Is it still fit for its purpose?
  • If not, why not?
  • What KPIs indicate success of a brand refresh?
Persona development Your customers’ hopes, needs and desires have moved on since your last brand refresh. You want to retain those customers and also attract new ones. In reassessing the personas of your target customers you need to ask:

  • Where have our customers’ priorities and tastes shifted to?
  • Are potential new customers the same ones we’ve been targeting since the last brand refresh?
  • Are there opportunities to develop a totally new customer? If so, who are they?
Competitor analysis
  • What are your competitors doing well/badly?
  • How can your branding and message be sharpened to give you an edge over your competitors not just now, but well into the future?
  • In a sea of sameness, how can your branding really stand-out?
Brand positioning and key messages You’ve asked yourself the above questions and figured-out where your customers and competitors are. Now you’ve got to decide where you’re going to position yourself in relation to that.

  • How are you going to update your messaging to make sure it not only connects with your newly reassessed customers, but also freshly communicates the essence of your brand, the ethos of your company, what you offer and how you offer it?
  • How is the sound of your brand’s message going to cut through the noise your competitors are making?
Logo and brand identity update Trends in branding and typography change rapidly and failing to stay relevant can leave your brand looking dated. This undermines the effort you’ve put into carefully crafted messaging and how seriously people take it. A good brand agency will be able to ensure that any visual changes that need to be made will reflect the company’s updated brand identity and market position. For many, this is the fun part of any brand refresh, but in real terms it’s one of the most internally far-reaching, permeating down as far as the company’s website and social media channels, branded pens, headed notepaper and email addresses. If you’re going that far, you need to get it right.
Communications and how to announce a brand refresh One mistake companies make is failing to adequately communicate the intentions behind a brand refresh to stakeholders like employees, partners and long-time customers. People need to understand how a brand refresh will boost growth and improve the business’s offering. Otherwise, the refresh will just be seen as change for change’s sake which will limit stakeholder buy-in and ensure that the brand refresh won’t be as effective as it could be.

  • How are you going to communicate the news of your brand refresh and the reasons behind it to internal stakeholders and the wider world?
  • Choose your communications channels carefully and think about exploring new ones to make sure your message gets to the right people.
Roll-out plan This is where the work you’ve already done starts to pay-off. The updated messaging that reflects your brand’s essence, appeals to existing customers, entices new ones and leads the firm to growth and profitability ought to be flowing out through traditional and new media channels.

  • Employees should be behind the plan, using the business’s refreshed identity in both internal and external communications. This will require a level of monitoring as employee buy-in is a big factor that can determine the success of a brand refresh.
  • After roll-out, KPIs like sales growth can be monitored and, if necessary, parts of the plan adjusted to hit peak performance effectiveness.

Tip: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

The reason you have a brand in the first place and the reason you have customers to retain is because you’re already doing something right. Make sure that any brand refresh you undertake is one that builds-on and consolidates your existing strengths. A refresh should project the image that the company is still very much the one it was beforehand, just better.

Examples of successful brand refreshes

In 2011, Starbucks Coffee took stock of its product offering and it was obvious that products like teas and cakes formed an important slice of sales. What the company did was retain but simplify its globally recognised logo, removing both the words “Starbucks” and “Coffee”, a relatively simple branding refresh which allowed it to better express to its loyal and potential customers what the company was about.

When cloud solutions expert Rackspace refreshed its brand in 2019, it was to reflect how the company had grown over the preceding few years. Rackspace had gone private, made acquisitions, expanded, and also evolved its service. It changed its tagline “fanatical support” to “fanatical experience” to better reflect the expanded breadth of its customer service. Its typography and visuals changed too highlighting the ability of well-chosen visual language to transmit just what it is that a company does. It dropped the capital at the beginning of its name in line with modern typographical trends, freshening-up its image. But also, as CMO Mark Bunting described in a blog post:

Our new colors also represent our service to customers. While we’ve kept, yet brightened, the Rackspace red to represent our 20-year history and beginnings as a hosting provider, we’ve added blue to represent “destination cloud.” And the gradient in between? It reflects the myriad of technology options between where you are today and where you’re going in the future.

It was timely brand refresh that showed-off how Rackspace and its offering had evolved and moved with both the times and its customers. It kept the company at the leading edge of its industry and on track to meet its goal, according to its Vice President of North American channel sales, Lisa McLin, “to be recognised as the best technology services company in the world.”

Get help you with your brand refresh

If, even after going through our brand refresh checklist, actually committing to one still seems too daunting, don’t worry. There are a lot of tough questions that need to be answered and plenty of big decisions that need to be made. That’s where Dusted can help. We are brand specialists, and helping you to keep raising your bar is as important to us as constantly raising ours.

If you want to talk to us about your brand, get in touch to arrange a call – without obligation but with the promise of strategic understanding and creative insight.