Refresh or Rebrand? When is it time to change, and how much?
In 2012, Proctor & Gamble launched TidePods, a revolutionary dissolvable pod with multiple cleaning solutions that worked to clean and fight stains without pouring or spills. This invention helped P&G reach a new market and gain a competitive advantage.
Who knew that the “Tide Pod Challenge” would emerge in 2018 and spread like a wildfire as adolescents across the country were “dared” to eat them like a tasty snack.
You can’t prepare for the stupidity of future generations, and you must always be ready to problem solve. After the “Tide Pod Challenge,” Tide went into crisis management mode and rethought its messaging and packaging. They used a public relations campaign to validate concerns, show action and control the narrative.
When it comes to your business and brand, adaptation is key
In 1994, when eCommerce was officially introduced, it was revolutionary for the shopping experience and terrifying for the design community. Until this point, most agencies and designers focused their creativity solely on print, and television advertising. The online platform introduced a new advertising spot, a smaller canvas, and a more significant challenge for creative professionals. The design industry was forced to adapt to meet the changing needs of the consumers and businesses they worked for.
That’s how design works.
Values change, needs arise, and design helps us problem-solve. Whether driven by the introduction of new technology, the change in consumer preferences, or the desire to stand out, there’s never a wrong time to evaluate how your company has evolved. And when your company evolves, so should your design.
This begs the question…
The question is ambiguous because it depends wholly on the state of your company.
Many companies are scared to overhaul their brands completely. Whether they’re afraid of the backlash or losing the loyalty of their customers, they’ve spent time and money on the old one, or they just don’t think this is necessary, we’ve learned that there is a proper time to rebrand entirely, and a proper time to simply refresh the design elements.
Even the strongest brands have a shelf life. According to Brand Leader, “Even household names go through a brand overhaul every 7 to 10 years.”
You know it’s time for a complete rebrand when:
- Your branding no longer reflects the core values of your company
- You’re failing to differentiate yourself from competitors
- Your business model/strategy has changed
- You’re undergoing a merger/acquisition
When doing a complete rebrand, it’s not just about visuals. By contrast, a rebrand is a complete repositioning of your brand. With a rebrand, you leave everything about your current brand in the past.
This means re-considering your company, Strategy, Positioning, Personality, Voice & Tone, etc.
A great example of this, an impressive rebrand is Burger King
Realizing that they were falling behind in their market and struggling to compete, Burger King began making internal changes to improve the quality of their products and eating experience. They changed their recipes to move towards healthier, more desirable food, refreshed their store design to create a more enjoyable eating experience, and improved the accessibility of their restaurant with curbside pickup spots, a walk-up window, and multiple drive-through lanes.
To express these quality and structural improvements, they also completely overhauled their brand and visual identity. In 2020, Jones Knowles Ritchie, Executive Creative Director Lisa Smith, and Burger King’s in-house design team worked together to strategize a rebrand that came out in early 2021.
Inspired by the logo roots, they designed a bold and retro logo that better communicates the “best of Burger King” and the energy behind this rebrand.
In addition to the logo redesign, they introduced more “in your face” photography and an illustrative style that aims to make the brand appear less synthetic and more desirable.
Burger King has re-evaluated its place in the fast-food industry. They have seen where they are falling short and have overhauled their brand to improve their place in the industry. Much needed and well respected by many renowned agencies, the Burger King Rebrand is an excellent example of the right time and way to Rebrand your company.
Learn more about the refresh from the design firm here.
The changes made by Burger King were necessary and vast. But perhaps the need for large-scale change isn’t that evident at your company.
You’re not falling behind, you’re not restructuring, but you simply feel your branding doesn’t quite fit with the world around you.
This is usually a sign that you may not need a complete overhaul but simply a refresh.
Reasons to Refresh:
- To correct out of date trends
- To showcase core values that arent being appropriately showcased
- To reflect the evolution of your business
- To help showcase new product lines
A Brand Refresh is more of a cosmetic solution to a problem; rather than starting from scratch, you’re simply giving the brand/design a facelift.
When doing a brand refresh, start with the essential core values and evaluate how they are expressed in the visual identity. From there, we find places to improve, whether in typography, spacing, balance, or contrast. In a similar but less dramatic way, The J.M. Smucker Co completed a brand refresh in late 2020 that got some controversial feedback.
Rather than a complete overhaul, Smucker simply refreshed their identity to reflect the evolution of the company and its products.
The primary purpose of the Smuckers facelift was to accurately accentuate the company’s diverse portfolio of brands. Although the feedback from this update varied widely. Everyone considering a refresh or rebrand must understand going into it that the changes made will not always be liked.
Change requires disruption. People hate change.
Don’t be scared to refresh or rebrand. As your company evolves, so should your design.
See our article, “How to work through a brand refresh,” to learn more about refreshing YOUR logo to match your changing company.