Should I refresh my brand?
Should I refresh my brand?
Many circumstances can trigger a company to ask this question. Changes in the business landscape and market trends are two of the main ‘reactive’ reasons. But, it’s also an opportunity to be proactive; as a way of periodically re-igniting or re-energising a brand.
A brand refresh is a proactive step in building a brand’s following and loyalty. In other words, it’s not just for when the typical political, environmental or societal changes prompt a business to re-think it’s positioning. Market disruption through new innovations happen all the time, and a brand refresh can help you reinforce your position, either in tandem as an instigator of disruption, or as a proactive step to protect against it.
What do we mean by a ‘brand refresh’?
To be clear, we are not talking about a complete brand makeover, that’s to say, reinventing the brand; although, that may be an eventuality in some cases.
A brand refresh looks at components of the brand, and their relevancy to the business environment, the company’s target audience, the market in general and the persona of the company. Times change, ideas change, and so does the personality of a company as it evolves.
Refreshing a brand looks at revitalising and reinvigorating the image of the company, perhaps to add a new dimension of excitement. More often though, it’s used to adjust the perceived direction and relevance of a company with a changing market landscape – more as a marketing tool than a PR activity.
A refresh can relate to all visual aspects of a company’s presence across all the channels through which it communicates. It could also focus on just a single aspect of the brand’s identity too, for example, tone of voice or a shift to using a more dynamic colour.
It’s an exercise that not only looks to adjust the outward impression of a company but also to change internal attitudes and behaviours. For instance: A brand may wish to highlight support or belief in a particular practice, perhaps because a product’s design intention is to provide benefits to society rather than just seen as a consumer item. Internally, employees (and stakeholders) need to promote and uphold the values that support such a move. As the phrase goes “Don’t talk-the-talk unless you can walk-the-walk”. A brand refresh must be able to communicate such changes to all stakeholders.
What circumstances may trigger a brand refresh?
Be proactive, rather than reactive
It’s easy to believe that a brand refresh may be a response to the company image becoming a little ‘stale’. But that’s most certainly not the case in our eyes. Dynamic and proactive companies use the refresh as a way to reach new audiences, add a new dimension to their outward appeal and to maintain loyalty with existing ones. It’s definitely a proactive part of building the brand.
Extending the life of a brand
It is a fact of business life though, at some point, products begin to reach the peak of their lifecycle curves. Companies usually have two choices, depending on the nature of the product and the market audiences involved:
- Begin development of a new or refined product to make up for and eventually replace lagging sales of a product in decline.
- Seek to breathe new life into a product with declining profits, by ‘tweaking’ aspects of the product, and by adjusting its brand image and messaging; with more emphasis placed on the latter.
Breathing new life into a brand that may be on the downward leg of the product life cycle is common, for instance, in the soap and washing detergent industries. This strategy is often combined with brand extension initiatives.
Brands and tradition
Brands can go hand-in-hand with tradition and can go back decades. But, tradition and cultural history also come with baggage; some welcome and prestigious, others not so much.
As time moves on, product aspects our society has previously embraced, fall from favour. An example would-be brands in the fashion industry that previously relied upon animal-based materials, such as fur or skins for luxury items, or oils and animal-based ingredients for cosmetics.
These all have highly negative connotations today. However, some of these brands have managed to survive by carefully adapting and adjusting their brand’s image over time.
Tradition also has its benefits; technology and manufacturing are areas where this is seen most often. For instance, consider the timeless and revered aspects of traditional craftsmanship. Such skills stand in stark contrast with feature-rich, ultra-modern products that seek to replicate and improve upon those from traditional roots. The watch is a classic example. Classic watchmakers still exist because they have adapted their brand image to match the evolving expectations of their audiences while preserving a technology that is hundreds of years old.
Economic and business crisis
Necessity is the mother of invention. From time to time, businesses hit problems, sometimes they are industry-wide, brought on by natural forces or societal upheaval.
Nature teaches similar lessons, where adaptation is the key to survival. It’s called survival of the fittest. So when these events happen in business, for the more inspired and energised companies, it’s an opportunity to reshape strategies and look at how their identity and messaging can be transformed to meet the new challenges the market has presented them. Part of this ‘reshaping’ is adjusting the brand to match the message and the audience within the new environment.
Technology and communications
Technology and media continue on a seemingly relentless evolutionary path. Evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, because the revolution in advanced technology happened decades ago. What we are experiencing today is the metamorphosis in a society based upon the applications and benefits that technology has enabled.
Such change has elicited a shift in the way people communicate, how they consume information, and the language used.
Given such a dynamic business and consumer-oriented world, expectations upon a brand for it to resonate on many different levels with the audience it seeks to captivate and engage, are high indeed. A brand refresh can be used to proactively demonstrate to your market that you are at the cutting edge of change.
The bottom line
The point of a brand refresh is to review the issues mentioned and ensure that the company is on top of them. Given the pace of change we see today, it’s probably not a bad thing to pause for thought during the year and take a closer look at your brand and current perceptions, both inward and outward.
Use it to breathe new life into your brand and as a source of inspiration to invigorate and excite the staff supporting you.
What does a brand refresh cover?
It’s easy to think of a brand as just being a logo or tag line, which is what most people remember. It’s much more, though. A brand is often “greater than the sum of its parts”, as those parts create an almost living entity with the power to become part of other people’s daily lives.
A brand refresh must consider the brand as a whole when considering an overhaul. It’s best to take a more holistic look at how the brand is performing, right down to the possible impact it is making in the people’s lives it touches. This requires reviewing its constituent parts and how they perform.
During a brand refresh, we will look at the following:
- The motivation behind the refresh
- Colour schemes
- Tone of voice
- Your website
- Your social media channels
- Your marketing collateral
- Your office stationery and business cards
- Brand perception in the market
- Use and current relevance of tag lines.
- The brand’s empathic connection with your audience – does it make the impact you are looking for?