Do You Need a Rebrand or Just a Refresh?

18-May-2017

You might be surprised to hear that, as a branding agency, we tell a lot of creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses that they do not in fact need a total rebrand, but maybe just a refresh. This might be you if you see your brand as boring, dated, or even a barrier to attracting your dream customers. But oftentimes what we see is potential for a refresh without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We’re always going to err on the side of a refresh – incorporating what works and evolving what could be working better.

You might feel like you need a new brand if:

  1. You're embarrassed to send anyone to your website.
  2. You can't describe what you offer and why it matters in less than three sentences.
  3. You feel like most of your competition is moving on without you.

But you might be able to get by with a refresh. If you’re not a creative director or a copywriter, it might feel like you’re light years away from having a brand that articulates your true vision, but you may be closer than you think. Here are a few tactics you can try that will take you further than you think:

Refresh your dated logo

A few years ago, the logo trend was to try and replicate the classic Nike mark with an abstract swoosh – but unless you’re Nike, this is a trend that is potentially making your logo look vague, dated, stuffy, or just “not you.” Try this: ask yourself, “What was the intention of that mark in the first place? Was it to look like Nike? What story was I trying to tell?” Retell that story to yourself (or a designer) and see what you’d come up with today. While you’re at it, you can simplify and update your typography and color palette to something more modern.

Feeling resistant? Even if you aren’t in love with your logo, it can be hard to embrace change. Think of the refresh more so as an evolution than as a total rebrand. It’s like cutting bangs or shaving your beard—you might think nobody will ever recognize you ever again, but the truth is the majority of people will only notice whether you’re confident in the change or not.

Refresh your tagline

You know when you’re remodeling your home and procrastinate on putting the baseboards back on until one day you don’t even notice and go years without baseboards? Just me? Anyway, this can happen to your brand too. So go to your website right now and read your tagline out loud. Is it clear what you do? Is it too corporate or cold? Could it be more genuine and specific?

Read more: How to write your tagline >>

Refresh your imagery

If you've been relying on cheesy stock images that have nothing to do with you or your dream client, then this is a barrier that can become an opportunity for a brand refresh:

  • Try more candid, atmospheric imagery, natural light, people not looking right at the camera
  • Use imagery that sets a mood instead of trying to set the stage – in other words, yes, a picture can say a thousand words, but it doesn't have to. You don't have to show the entire literal story of what you're trying to say in one picture with people doing exactly what it is you are selling with big smiley faces. Instead, think of images that suggest the feeling behind what you want to say. Your imagery can be a metaphor or abstraction of a concept to convey the feeling of what it is you want your dream customer to feel.
  • Begin noticing or mood boarding the kind of images you would like to use and use them for your next photo shoot or stock photo search.
  • We always recommend custom photoshoots that make you and your business “real” to your audience or potential customer. Invest in a photographer whose style you like to take “day in the life of” vignettes that you can use on your website.

Start talking to a specific segment of your audience.

The content you share is a great place to dip your toe into getting specific with your brand messaging. For example, let’s say your broad audience is typically “women ages 25-54” for most of your services. You might be afraid to narrow in, but you’ve noticed that you’ve been attracting a following of single moms. Think about how your services can more specifically help them, and look for ways to target this segment with your blog posts, newsletters, and social media. Where are these women spending time—online and in life? How could you meet them where they are at?

Freaking out about alienating the rest of your audience by getting specific? Just think of this as a promotion or experiment you’re trying out seasonally. Also, give the rest of your customers more credit – they won’t necessarily opt-out just because you’re not speaking directly to them, and the audience you are speaking to – they’re going to convert from aware of your brand to totally engaged and ready to buy.


Think your brand needs a refresh? Join our mailing list – we’re sending out branding and visioning advice weekly that will help you clearly articulate who you are, what you do, and for whom.

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