It has been 10 years since John started importing and distributing superior-quality floor polishers, grinders, discs, and industrial chemicals from Italy in his market. His business has grown considerably since then.

Now, he also distributes couture paints, architectural coatings, and decorative floorings. He has recently expanded his product range to include gypsum boards, decorative wall and ceiling panels, structural glass, floor tiles, insulation, and many other finishing supplies.

At this point, John thinks his business’s brand imagery and visual identity no longer accurately represent who his company is and what it does. As a case in point, he feels that his logo — a stylized floor grinder — not only seems dated. It also feels inadequate, unable to capture the essence of his brand as it has evolved through the years.

What should John do? Should he perform a brand refresh, or will it be better to rebrand?

What Is Brand Refresh?

The term refresh means to reinvigorate or give fresh energy. Thus, refreshing a brand means updating it to convey a sense of newness, to breathe new life (i.e., vitality) and fresh energy into it.

A brand refresh is like a face-lift. In such a procedure, skin is pulled, tucked, and removed in strategic places to give the face a more youthful shape.

Similarly, in a brand refresh, the company’s branding elements are tweaked here and there and strategically adjusted to align them to the company’s current (or desired) image and, ultimately, improve the brand’s impact and the market’s response to it.

These adjustments can include the following:

  • Updating the logo 

You can make your square logo’s corners a little more rounded and remove the shadow.

  • Adding a new color to the color palette or changing the accent color

You can replace your color palette’s crimson accents (HEX code #D21F3C) with raspberry (HEX code # E305BD).

  • Changing things around on the website, particularly its colors, fonts, and layout

You can replace your website’s slider header with a striking image, include a call-to-action on the page hero, and add a contact form right underneath.

  • Updating the brand’s typeface

You can change your brand’s go-to serif font from Open Sans to Raleway.

If you want an example of a brand refresh, look no further than Instagram. Recently, Instagram used three-dimensional modeling to update its trademark color gradient, illuminating it and making it more dynamic and vibrant.

Instagram also introduced a new typeface, Instagram Sans, which is the perfect marriage of the square and circle in the Instagram glyph. Instagram also updated the layout of the content, making it more flexible and adaptive.

In a nutshell, a brand refresh is like slapping a new coat of paint on your walls. It will look excitingly fresh and different, but it’s the same wall and the same house.

What Is a Rebrand?

A rebrand is a complete overhaul. Think of it as demolishing a house, even replacing its foundations, drawing up new plans, and building from scratch — because that’s essentially what rebranding requires.

In a rebrand, you formulate an entirely new identity for your company instead of simply building on your existing identity. Think of your company’s values, market, operations, and everything that makes up your identity. Only then can you formulate a new brand that will capture everything you do and represent.

To use the earlier analogy, if a brand refresh is a face-lift, a rebrand entails getting a completely new face. The facial structure itself is reconfigured instead of being given a more youthful shape.

In a rebrand, the following typically happens:

In 2016, Instagram rebranded to capture the drastic way its identity has changed since its inception.

In the beginning, Instagram was just an app that made it easy for its users to capture and share photos. Thus, its logo — one that looked like a camera — and its retro colors suited it just fine.

However, by 2016, it had already evolved so much from what it was initially in 2010. It has become a full-fledged social network. It has also turned into a platform that enabled its millions of users to express and showcase their sense of style and foster communities with a similar sense of aesthetics.

Instagram had also rolled out so many innovative features that the retro vibe and feel of its logo no longer represented what the brand had become. Thus, it was time for a rebrand.

The clunky retro camera that served Instagram well when it was just starting was replaced with a modern and minimalistic gradient logo. After the rebrand, the Instagram logo finally conveyed what Instagram has become, a cutting-edge, technologically advanced platform for the hip trendsetter.

Brand Refresh or Rebrand?

So, what do you need for your business? This depends on a lot of factors. Thus, consulting a branding consultant can help you decide which one you need.

In John’s case (the floor grinder importer and distributor used as an example earlier), a significant brand refresh can suffice. While his range of product offerings has phenomenally expanded — if his market hasn’t changed — a refresh will help him remain relevant to his audience.

Of course, he can also go for a rebrand. This is particularly appropriate if his core values have changed and his market has expanded or changed significantly from what it was initially.

As for you, you can use this general rule of thumb.

A brand refresh will be helpful if your brand no longer fully reflects your identity, but your core values haven’t changed. It is also something you’d want to do if your brand is looking dated.

Remember, a brand refresh will reinvigorate your brand. It can help you recapture your target market’s interest and keep you relevant.

Meanwhile, you should look at rebranding when who you are, including your values, has changed. If you used to be an e-commerce store but have now become a logistics provider, rebrand. Facebook, after it had outgrown its social media company persona, rebranded and became Meta.

It also makes sense to rebrand if:

  • Your reputation is shot, and you wish to start anew.
  • You need to clarify and refocus your identity.
  • You must highlight your competitive advantage.
  • Your target market has changed; thus, your way of presenting yourself to your audience and communicating with them will subsequently change.

The Next Steps

To reiterate: You must consider many factors when deciding between a brand refresh and a rebrand. Therefore, consult an image and branding consultant to see which one you need and to assist you in implementing rebranding or brand refresh, as required.

Yellow is a digital and branding agency in Dubai. We can help you refine your identity and create the branding assets to go with it. Contact us for help with your rebranding or brand refresh.