Are you thinking about a complete rebranding or brand refreshment? Seems like everyone’s looking to overhaul their brand lately. But before you make the leap, ask yourself this most important question: WHY? Why do you want to change your company’s image? You’re going to need a better reason than, “I’m sick of my brand.” (Although that’s not a bad reason in itself, of course—but it’s not enough.)

Rebranding vs. Brand Refresh

There are a lot of reasons for a brand makeover. But first, let’s review the difference between a complete brand overhaul and a little clean up around the edges—and it’s not in how much your brand will change, it’s the WHY behind the change itself. The WHY reveals the difference between a rebrand or a brand refresh.

Craig at Urban Jungle describes the differences well…


Is the act of altering the vision, mission, position, and promise of a company. Because this change of course is such a big deal both internally and externally, once the brand strategy is determined, a visual and written change in the communication of the company typically accompanies the rebranding efforts. Logos get updated, colours and fonts change, language is refined, and in extreme cases, companies even rename.

On the contrary, refreshing is the act of changing the aesthetic components of a brand, typically to update the appearance and revitalize the company’s image. This is the brand marketing equivalent of updating a wardrobe or getting a new haircut. The individual’s values, beliefs, and personality usually haven’t changed, just their image has.


Reasons/Opportunities for a Brand Makeover

It’s VERY important to think about the reason(s) for changing up your brand, as there are a lot of consequences and costs associated with making the switch, so you must be sure you’ve thought through the process. Your customers will want a reason for the change, and you should be able to provide that narrative on demand, or they may feel betrayed or abandoned by the brand they’ve come to love and trust.

Why do other companies rebrand or refresh their brand?

  • To note and pay tribute to a major company anniversary.
    • Last week on The Branding Spot, we talked about the Weight Watchers debacle. The new logo was created to celebrate their fifty-year anniversary. (Interestingly enough, competitor Jenny Craig jumpstarted their new brand a year earlier, which could be seen as a reactive and preemptive approach to the potential competitive influence.)
  • To signal a major organizational change (internally, externally, or both).
    • If the company is experiencing an organizational overhaul in structure, location, target markets, product lines, etc – the “new and improved” company vision and mission are often showcased through a brand makeover.
  • To maintain company and brand relevancy and/or to appeal to a new audience.
    • When a company’s brand and brand messaging just isn’t touching their target audience anymore, nor is it displaying the direction of the company’s future, it’s time for a brand makeover. Recently, it seems Wendy’s took this approach, dropping the “Old Fashioned Hamburgers” tagline and opting for a more modern look, after spending thirty years clad in the same “old fashioned” logo.
  • Through mergers and acquisitions.
    • Often a merger or acquisition will result in a change in location, product delivery, product lines, services and service availability, and much more. To ease customers through the transitional period, companies will often rebrand in the interest of maintaining that customer base, especially throughout the transitional process. Or sometimes, an entirely new company or division is created with the sale, so that company needs a brand relevant to its new or existing target market.
  • In case of legal issues.
    • Many people think KFC grew out of Kentucky Fried Chicken because the company was trying to eliminate the word “fried” from the name. Some people even think it’s because the company could no longer advertise their “mutant chickens” as actual, edible chicken! Fortunately for everyone, neither story is true. Instead, the switch was due to the fact that KFC wanted to avoid paying new taxes to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in the state’s ploy to make up for its growing deficit.

What’s your reason for YOUR next brand makeover? Stay tuned next week as we continue discussing the ins (and especially the outs!) of brand makeovers!