Refreshing your brand? Don’t overlook these 5 variables

Refreshing your brand? Don’t overlook these 5 variables


Ade Ajibola, Ian Doubleday

At first glance, a brand refresh seems far less complicated than a complete brand overhaul. After all, how hard can it be to tweak a logo or evolve your messaging?

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The short answer is that it’s harder than you think. Implementing any kind of brand change requires careful thought, in-depth planning, and broad coordination. And depending on the scope of your refresh, you may find it takes nearly as much time and effort to update your brand as it would to replace it altogether.

To roll out your brand refresh in a way that achieves your strategic objectives, you’ll need to build a realistic plan, timeline, and budget. Here are five elements to consider.

1. The scope of your brand refresh

With brand change, there are two ways to think about scope. First, there’s the degree to which you’re adjusting your brand’s identity. In the case of a brand refresh, the scope of change is typically quite minor.

But you also need to determine the scope of implementation. Marketing leaders frequently underestimate the time, resources, and funding it will take to roll out their refresh, especially if they’ve never been through brand change before.

Let’s say you want to modernize your brand’s font. That sounds simple enough. But your font probably appears on nearly every asset within your organization’s purview. If that’s the case, you’ll have to update everything in order to roll out a consistent new brand experience.

So how can you assess your scope accurately? Conduct a thorough audit of all your branded assets and ask:

  • Which branded assets (physical and digital) will be affected by this change? How many are there?
  • Are there any assets we will not need to update?
  • How will we roll out this change? Can we make quick cosmetic changes to digital assets, or will we need to replace entire structures?
  • What will external partners need from us to update our brand in third-party channels? How much lead time will they require?

Knowing the answers to these types of questions is essential to budgeting appropriately and planning realistically. An implementation partner like BrandActive knows what to look for so you don’t miss a single pertinent detail.

2. Brand architecture implications

Along the same lines, if your brand has multiple sub-brands or product lines, you should consider how refreshing your brand will impact your entire brand architecture. You might have fewer architectural implications with a refresh than you would with a full rebrand. But it will come down to the kind of change you’re making.

For example, if your parent brand and sub-brands all use the same color scheme, any change to your color palette would need to cascade throughout your entire brand architecture. Similarly, if you’re updating your brand’s nomenclature and messaging to keep up with shifting social norms and expectations, you’d likely want to make those changes everywhere.

On the other hand, if you’re simply updating one sub-brand’s logo, you may be able to leave the rest of your brand architecture untouched.

The key is to consider the right factors and ask the right questions. By evaluating your scope and its impact on your brand architecture early, you can avoid any unwanted surprises down the road.

3. Speed to market and brand consistency

If you’re refreshing your brand, you’re doing it for strategic reasons. Therefore, as you develop your implementation timeline, think about how quickly you’ll need to take your new brand to market in order to make the business impact you intend.

Some businesses put a lower strategic value on a brand refresh than a full rebrand. As such, they take their time converting their branded assets and spread the process over a period of several years.

That’s a good approach as long as you consider all the effects of a slower speed to market. In particular, be sure to weigh the consequences of mixed branding in the marketplace. Prolonged brand inconsistency can lead to confusion, which of course impacts everything from audience engagement to brand loyalty.

However minor your brand change may seem, you must communicate proactively and clearly to win employee support.

To mitigate this, determine which assets will make the largest impact on your audience and prioritize transitioning those quickly. Then, set reasonable deadlines for converting your remaining assets and hold your team accountable for meeting them.

Brand implementation is challenging work, and it’s easy to lose steam. Whether you’re sprinting to the finish line or completing your refresh at a more relaxed pace, BrandActive can help you apply the right level of rigor and purpose to the process.

4. The impact of brand change on internal and external stakeholders

Although refreshing your brand identity may seem less dramatic than a total rebrand, it’s still a change. As such, it must be managed carefully. As part of your communication strategy, consider how you’ll introduce your refreshed brand to all the segments of your audience, including consumers, vendors, external partners, and employees.

Pay special attention to your internal communications plan. You need employees to function as champions and ambassadors of your brand. And if you want them to embrace your new brand and represent it appropriately, they need to understand:

  • The strategic reasons behind refreshing/modernizing your brand
  • How the change will benefit the business in general and employees in particular
  • Your implementation timeline’s start date (whether you’re officially launching the updated brand or not) and the anticipated end date
  • How to deliver your brand promise to external stakeholders
  • The role employees will play in converting branded assets
  • How to apply the brand accurately and consistently (and where to go when they have questions)

Letting go of legacy brand elements can be emotional for employees. Therefore, no matter how minor your brand change may seem, it’s essential to communicate proactively, clearly, and transparently to win employee buy-in and support.

5. Legal considerations

Finally, before you begin enacting your updated brand, take time to reach out to your organization’s legal department and explore any legal matters that could upend your brand refresh. You’ll need to:

  • Confirm you’re not infringing on any trademarks, copyrights, patents, or other intellectual property rights
  • Register elements like logos and taglines with appropriate government agencies
  • Maintain compliance in all the markets in which you operate, especially if you’re a national or global organization with a large geographical footprint

Again, it’s common for marketing leaders to think about a brand refresh as a rather minor endeavor. But depending on the legal considerations you need to navigate, it could be a heavier lift than you anticipate. That’s why it’s important to think through these details sooner rather than later.

Don’t underestimate the impact of refreshing your brand

We’ve worked with clients who attempted a brand refresh on their own, only to discover that it required much more from their team than they expected. And unfortunately, by the time they realized they needed help, they’d fallen a year behind their expected implementation timeline.

There’s no reason that needs to happen to you.

BrandActive can help you achieve the market impact you want your brand refresh to make. From accurately assessing your project’s scope to dreaming up creative ways to engage employees, we’ll move you in the right direction starting on day one. Then, we’ll sustain that forward momentum until the job is done.

Let’s get started.