Choosing Between a Rebrand and a Refresh by Nicole Ellis

I wish I could say that visual branding is timeless like a chic Chanel suit, but for many businesses that’s just not the case. People change with time and so do businesses. As a result, most will undergo either an overhaul or several refreshes during their lifespan.

Not sure which is right for your current situation? Let me help you out.


What is a rebrand and what is a refresh?

A rebrand isn’t as simple as making a change to your logo. It involves completely changing the visuals, messaging, culture and customer experience of your company. It’s a complete strategic overhaul. A refresh on the other hand just means tweaking certain elements. Since I am in the business of handling the visual part, I will only be focusing on that in this post, but each component is vital and necessary to your overall brand strategy, therefore should be given equal consideration when rebranding.

What you should think about when rebranding?

The decision to rebrand may seem difficult, and the process daunting, but when properly executed, a rebrand can lead to a stronger, more authentic company. It can differentiate you from competitors and reinvigorate customer’s perceptions—all leading to what everyone wants, SALES!

In the case of your visual brand identity, when done right, it gives you the opportunity to get in front of the customers you really want. We are a very visual society, so having a powerful visual presence is vital to capturing people’s attention, and the right people at that.

Before we examine the reasons people choose to rebrand or refresh, I think it’s important to think about what’s involved—the two biggest things are time and money.

Time & Money

Big companies like Starbucks, Apple, and Burberry, have all successfully revived their brand through rebranding efforts. Unlike these companies, small businesses aren’t typically working with a mult-imillion marketing budget and rebranding can be costly. You can spend anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars on a completely new visual identity alone. While established businesses can handle the costs associated with it, for small or less seasoned business owners, a considerable amount of planning and saving is necessary before pulling the trigger.

Cost is not the only factor to consider, the branding process is also a time commitment. I spend several months working with clients to deep dive into their business so that I can craft visual branding strategy that authentically connects with their audience and accurately reflects the type of experience that customers can expect from them. That’s no easy task, and one that shouldn’t be rushed.

So which one—rebrand or refresh?

Signs That It’s Time for a Full Rebrand:


1. You are repositioning

The single biggest reason people will rebrand is because after a few years their business focus shifts. When you get into the thick of things, you may notice that you are drawn to a certain type of work or client. As a result you may niche down, recalibrate your offerings and discover a new ideal client. In doing so, your logo and visual materials may no longer reflect what you do or appeal to who you want to work with.  


2. You are merging with another company

When two companies merge, they often times will create a whole new visual identity that is representative of both parties.


3. You DIY-ed the first time

If you opted for a cheap, poorly made logo or went at it on your own, it may be time to just scrap all of it and start fresh. Your visual identity is often people’s first exposure to you. Whether it be your website or social media account, you generally get one shot at making a positive connection with prospective clients/customers. For that reason it is imperative that you present your business in the right light. If your identity isn’t visually communicating the real you, then you may be attracting the wrong clients—if you’re attracting any at all.

Signs Your Brand Needs a Refresh

1. Your logo is dated

I put this into the refresh category, because even a dated logo can still have good bones and just need a little tweak. If your logo has a drop shadow, try removing it for a more flat, modern appearance. Is the font stylized? Try a similar font without as much to it.


2. You never created a complete visual identity

You have a solid logo, but maybe you only have one version of it. Consider creating a secondary logo that can be used in situations where you need an alternate orientation or something compact. Maybe you’re working with a limited color palette. Try you adding a few new colors to give yourself more to work with when creating graphics. Patterns and textures are another easy way to create some renewed visual interest.


3. You’re just bored with your visuals

Boredom is NEVER a reason for a full rebrand. If you have a strong visual brand and people recognize you simply by your graphics, that is a part of what is called brand equity. Brand equity is the value of having a well-known brand, it’s where you can generate sales and revenues simply from your name. You create brand equity for your business when your visual identity is memorable and easily recognizable. Often times this why big companies have a hard time rebranding themselves. People get used to the way their logo and graphics look, so when changed it throws them. You may remember the rebrand that Gap underwent in 2010, you may not, because within six days they reverted back to the original logo because there was so much backlash. A lot of Gap’s brand equity is found in their logo, so a visual rebrand will always be difficult, but a bad one at that made it a no-go almost immediately. So if boredom is your reason, please don’t go down the rebrand road, instead consider a refresh to appease your restlessness.  

If It’s Time For a Rebrand

I encourage you to look at your visual branding not as a luxury, but rather a necessity. Big purchases for your business may be scary, but if your visual brand isn’t working for you and isn’t getting you in front of those dreamy clients, you may already be missing out on money. So it’s a moo point (“Friends” anyone?)


If it’s time to rebrand, make the investment—just make it wisely. Do your research, understand all the elements of a rebrand. Still not sure if a rebrand or refresh is right for you? Reach out to a branding professional. Many offer free consultations or low-cost audits that can help you to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, and aide you in making the decision to rebrand with confidence.


Choosing Between a Rebrand and a Refresh by Nicole Ellis on Biz and BubblyABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Ellis, Sweet Southern Pixels

Hello! I’m Nicole Ellis, visual brand designer for the stylish female entrepreneur. I strive to help female business owners take their brand vision and translate it into impactful visual brand identities that not only fit their story but make a statement. With nearly a decade of experience working in graphic design and branding agencies, I have a proven process and the right expertise to create a solid brand identity. When I’m not sitting in front of my computer, I am a #boymom who enjoys a all things pink, glass of champs and a great handbag.






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