Do you need to refresh your company’s brand? It’s a big undertaking and worth thinking through carefully. Done well, a brand refresh can give new life to your company, increasing your customer base and hiking revenues. Done poorly, a brand refresh can draw the ire of long-time customers. Some companies, such as The Gap, have reversed course after a brand refresh that was a focus of complaints.
The best strategy is to tie your brand refresh to a particular event — a new name for your company! — or a particular strategy — you’re branching out into new markets.
Below are seven reasons to refresh your brand and low-cost options to implement a brand refresh in your company.
1. New Company, New Brand
There are many reasons for a company to become “new,” even if it has the same personnel and the same core business. If your company has a new name, for example, the brand can do the work of linking the old, known business name with the new through clever design. The design is carried on all your products.
The investment firm Piper Jaffray, for example, spun off from USBancorp and wanted a brand refresh to reflect its new independent status. The old logo subsumed the Piper Jaffray name under the USBancorp logo.
The brand refresh logo put Piper Jaffray front and center. It also placed the names together to underscore the unity of the newly independent company.
2. The Evolution of a Company
If your company has been through a transition that is meaningful to the customer base, a brand refresh can be an opportunity to integrate the new and the old in a fresh way.
The architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) had a logo of 25 years that stressed the initials of the three principals. When they retired, a new logo foregrounded the architectural focus of the firm by designing the ampersand in the style of architectural drawings.
There’s nothing wrong with promoting your company’s age. Many do this in their logo by stating “est.” followed by a year. However, your website and brand do not have to reflect that you haven’t updated since then. Consider transitioning to the time and still paying homage to the past, like Wolley Home Solutions. Their brand and site demonstrate that they’re a trusted brand and have an accessible product for every generation.
3. Rebranding Support
If your company is undergoing a rebranding for any reason, a brand refresh is necessary to support those efforts. A brand refresh is a way of telling customers and potential customers “Here’s the new us.” Selco, a fast-growing financial services company based in Oregon, recently rebranded itself to be “the Nordstrom of credit unions.” Nordstrom, a leading department store, is known for its comprehensive offerings and excellent customer service.
The rebranding focused on the provision of a wide variety of services with informational packets and website material about them. It also reiterated the local and friendly nature of Selco. The “S,” for example, was made an informal font unlike those used by most financial companies. Pictures of Selco employees were also featured prominently in all materials.
4. Market Expansion
If your company is expanding into new markets, a brand refresh serves the most elemental of purposes: letting customers know. Inform them about the product and what it does! A brand refresh is a perfect time to both highlight your brand and extend its reach.
GAC Services, formerly Gaithersburg Air, expanded their business and now feature a wider variety of options for their customers, including cooling, heating, and electrical options. Their site supports a multitude of features and their services are clearly shown on their landing page.
A classic example is the advertising for Apple’s iPod. MP3 players have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to remember a time when they were new. However, Apple prior to the iPod was known for one thing: computers. Basically Macs. They were known to have genius advertising, of course — Apple’s “1984,” which linked its products to the fight for human potential and against conformity, is routinely given kudos as one of the most memorable ads of all time.
But when they expanded into music players, it was a chance to capture a whole new market. And capture it they did. A set of new advertising showed people dancing wildly with the new product in tow. The brand refresh played directly into “here’s what our new stuff is for” and successfully created a new market.
5. Brand Updates
While brand refreshes should not be taken without a reason, one of the reasons can be the necessity for updates! If you go too long with no change in marketing material, it will begin to look stale. Why? Well, marketing design goes through styles, like clothes do. A look that hasn’t been updated will begin to look like you’re wearing 1980s shoulder pads in 2016.
If you look at classic American companies like Ford, Starbucks, and even Coca-Cola, they retain a distinctive design and presence, but look subtly different decade to decade. It might be as subtle as a change in color or color positioning while retaining a distinctive script. Both Ford and Coca-Cola do this routinely.
Starbucks in the 1970s printed words along with its logo on every coffee cup — “Starbucks Coffee and Tea,” in case you didn’t know. As the decades progressed, so did its logo. The current one is a streamlined version of its water maid, different than the original but close enough so customers likely notice only if they see them side by side.
It also nicely reinforces the idea that Starbucks is synonymous with coffee at this point — they don’t need to tell you what they sell.
6. Social Media Channel Coordination
Social media channels are increasingly important in establishing connections with and driving sales to your customer base. They are also proliferating at a rapid rate. To the social media stalwarts of Facebook and Twitter, add Instagram, Pinterest, and more. Each has strong appeal to various market segments.
Instagram, for example, is most popular among young adults. To be successful, a company should be spread widely among social media channels.
Brand recognition can be diluted if the brand isn’t cohesive across social media channels. Not all branding can accommodate a given social media channel successfully. If your brand is very word-centered, for example, it’s not likely to be a good fit for Pinterest, which is very image-based, not to mention wildly popular.
A rebranding can specifically be done to focus on unity — and thus customer recognition — across the channels. That way, all your social media channels work together.
7. A Face for the Company
If your branding has been very product- or service-oriented, a rebranding can create a “face” for your company. Selco, the financial services company, has branding that informs customers of interest rates and available products, of course. But their rebranding also emphasizes the staff in each branch by including pictures.
Giving customers a face to connect with can be a resourceful way of pulling them in when combined with specific products and services.
How to Implement a Brand Refresh
If a brand refresh causes you to think “$$$$,” it shouldn’t. There are many low-cost strategies:
- Commission a new logo from a new artist. New logos can be designed very inexpensively. Have meetings with new young designers who are hungry for commissions. Ask to see their portfolios to make an informed decision.
- Work with an affordable digital marketing partner to design and implement your new brand’s logo across all of your digital properties (website, social media, email signatures, etc.).
- Place more of your communications online. Especially if you are largely print-based now, a shift to online could save you mega-bucks. It also enables quick and easy changes to your brand going forward. More and more marketing takes place online. Less and less happens in print.
- Use inexpensive methods. Some of the methods above, such as giving your company a face, are quite inexpensive. Existing employees can take pictures of staff. Uploading them to your website is quick and easy.
Brand refreshes should be undertaken for a specific reason. A new company, a new brand, a rebrand, market expansion and updates are all events that can trigger a brand refresh. Hiring new designers and placing company marketing online can be ways to rebrand at optimal cost.
About the author: Lexie Lue is a designer and writer. She constantly researches trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.