S2 ARTICLE
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FIVE REASONS FOR A BRAND REFRESH

Although change for change's sake is seldom a good course of action, a well-executed brand refresh could be just what the doctor ordered — if the underlying rationale justifies such measures. 

Refreshing an overall brand identity should be rooted in strategy, and these are five legitimate reasons for doing so. Often more than one of them is at play.

Historical examples of corporate brand identity refreshes.

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Change In Leadership

As companies experience far-reaching leadership changes or smaller, privately-held organizations are acquired or otherwise absorbed; rebranding is a well-justified course of action. Such transformation serves three essential purposes:

  • It introduces a new leadership/vision for the company.

  • It demonstrates reinvigoration.

  • It expresses a commitment to growth.

 

Changing Competition

Pressure stemming from a competitor's acquisitions or new product innovation is often a good reason to update a brand and reposition it in the market. However, disruption such as this can be a double-edged sword. Doing nothing or maintaining the status quo may allow for your competition to pull the attention to them. Sometimes showing consistency and stability can be viewed as stagnant and short-sighted. On the other hand, adding a refreshed look and feel can put a new spotlight on an existing business or product. The key is to have something worth refreshing.

Change Of Direction

Perhaps an organization — or one of its brands — is undergoing a directional change. Examples include outreach to an entirely new market segment or industry, expanding a newly identified target audience, or expanding geographic footprint. Promoting your brand to a new market is an opportunity to consider different ways to convey the unique value you can offer.

 

Change Of Offerings

Introducing new or expanded products or service offerings may present an ideal time to refresh your brand identity. Not only will such an effort provide an opportunity to reintroduce core products, but it will also help to attract new audiences who may be drawn to the latest offering yet were previously unfamiliar with the original portfolio.

 

Change Of Look And Feel

Sometimes a brand update is as simple as giving a tired-looking brand a facelift. Such modernization could be a result of antiquated graphics, fonts, or colors. Or perhaps the brand is simply no longer resonating with the current marketplace. Such cosmetic changes are generally not as difficult as a complete makeover — however, the results can bring a faltering brand back to the limelight.

 

Things To Look Out For

Jumping into a rebrand can be an exciting time for a business, but some warnings should be heed before proceeding too hastily. In particular, I have seen many brands fail because they changed too quickly or drastically, leaving the core brand unrecognizable and confusing to loyal patrons. If customers don't know the brand they recognize, it's more likely they will opt for another. Retaining elements of what people know ensures consumers still recognize their favored brand.

 

One of the biggest mistakes any company can make is to implement a brand refresh halfway — perhaps conducting research but never acting on it, or making significant changes without doing the necessary work to understand what would better position it in the market or how to communicate the refresh to the market best. Also, getting the entire organization excited and adequately trained on the new positioning is all part of the strategy. A rebrand to be considered successful involves much more than swapping out an old logo; it requires a shift in mentality.

 

For those who believe in the process, manage it well and do it for the right reasons, benefits will ensue for years to come. That is certainly the case with the recent refresh of our own company, which has evolved significantly since it originated in 1980 and rebranded in 2001. Our newly-appointed director of marketing almost immediately recognized three crucial indicators that a refresh was long overdue:

  1. The direction of the company has changed dramatically over the years.

  2. The range of offerings had expanded significantly.

  3. The market segments being targeted were less interested in the company's heritage and more impressed with current capabilities.

 

The result has been overwhelmingly positive. New customer types are approaching the company for the first time. In addition, the once difficult-to-describe range of offerings now nicely fits into five core pillars that are easily explained and relevant in today's market.

Any company can refresh its brand and update how it looks, how it is described, and the products and services it includes. However, the dynamics of today's fast-paced business environment underscores that brand refreshes and thoughtful changes are necessary to maintain and grow their market share.

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