The Jump
A Blog by Ribbet Inc.

Brand Refresh: Is It Time?

 

Google, KFC, Apple, Starbucks, Delta, Twitter, Ebay, Walmart, and Burger King are just a few of the many companies that have recently gone through a rebrand or brand refresh. Why would they spend time and money to update an established brand? Organizations have typically refreshed their brands every 5 to 10 years (Barkha’s Brand Clinic, 2014), but the need to refresh has become more urgent and necessary. This is because people’s expectations have changed, and so has technology. Companies now need to rebrand or refresh more often to stay current and relevant to today’s market. A brand refresh refers to the updating of the existing branding, so perhaps staying with the colour palette but updating the font, imagery and materials, or keeping the shapes the same but updating colours and shading. A rebranding can mean changing the style name, the logo design, and/or colour palette to really come at the branding in a new way. In both cases, the company holds on to the established audience and keeps a tie-in to the existing brand. Here are some of the compelling reasons why a company might consider a brand refresh:

 

Attention Spans are Shorter People spend less and less time focused on a certain idea or subject, especially with the speed of new concepts spreading across the Internet. It is harder and harder nowadays to hold a consumer’s attention; The average office worker checks their e-mail 30 times every hour and typical mobile users check their phones more than 150 times per day (Bremner, B2B Marketing Insider, 2015). With a brand refresh or rebranding, a stir in the publicity of your brand creates buzz and makes a concept seem new, which is extremely attractive in the eyes of today’s market. Buzz marketing is extremely useful in maximizing word-of-mouth attention and can therefore create a beneficial focus on your brand and its new change. Brands want to stay relevant and remain important in the eyes of their consumers.

Technology is Advancing With the rapid evolution of innovation in technology, it’s important for a brand to keep up with changing tools, platforms, and devices. According to Forbes, we are on the brink of a new digital paradigm (Satell, 2013), and technological advancement is at an all-time high, which means that the brand message may stay the same, but it needs to be designed, tested, and executed across all technologies that are relevant to your target audience. For example, a commercial video shot 10 years ago is very different in quality than video today. Likewise, a website design 5 years ago would be very different in style, approach, and format than one done today. The audience notices these differences and it influences how they view a company.

Changing Needs of the Marketplace In order for a brand to be successful, it needs to resonate with its target market and create a memorable identity. To do this effectively, the brand must keep up with its changing niche audience. For example, if the audience evolves along with the technology, they are most likely to be more tech-savvy and follow current design trends. A company should conduct strategic target market research regularly, and decipher the evolving needs and/or preferences of its designated group in order to remain significant to their audience.

An Internal Announcement Sometimes a rebrand or brand refresh happens simply to adapt to a change happening within the company itself. The time to update or refresh is when you know that there are changes in your market, in your target audiences, or in the company’s plans for the future (Morrow, Optimize My Brand, 2013). It may be necessary to create buzz around a brand change when announcing a new line of business, a new growth plan, or a new phase. These changes happen very often within companies, especially when the company is doing well and planning on an expansion of their brand. An example of this is the major changes underwent by McDonald’s restaurants after crucial public accusations of unhealthy recipes and ingredients. McDonald's has since then tried to rebrand itself as more health-conscious with a greater variety of salads and other healthy meal options, as well as updating its locations' space to sleeker salad-bar inspired design. By listening to their customers and the media, McDonald’s changed and refreshed certain aspects of their company (while keeping the same logo), and in turn, has benefitted from a 5.3 percent rise in January sales (Business Insider, 2015).

A Promise for the Future By investing in a brand refresh or rebrand, a company can send a signal to their audience that they are still in the game and planning for the future. They can demonstrate that they are listening to customer feedback and industry trends by incorporating that into the refresh. For instance, Brewer’s Retail was owned by a consortium of Ontario-based brewers when it was set up in 1927 as “Brewers' Retail”, and recognized that people referred to their stores as “The Beer Store” almost exclusively. This, along with a company takeover, impacted the decision to update and refresh their branding by actually changing the name of the stores to match the consumers’ expectations (CBC, 2015). This strategy emphasizes brand confidence and innovation, as well as the verification of a plan, which situates the brand into the future.

New or Expanded Product or Service When an organization’s brand is based on its original service or product offering and they decide to expand that, it can be beneficial to refresh or rebrand to help customers understand that they offer more than before. It can signify a change, create buzz, and drive attention to the new offering. For example, Boulder Organic! (formerly known as Boulder Soup Works) enjoyed rapid growth and prepared to expand into foods other than soup in 2006 (Boulderopolis, 2015).  

 

As Heraclitus has said, the only constant is change. It is important for a brand to keep up with these transformations; Changes like technology, trends, consumer habits, and shifting interest can all affect the path of a brand’s life. Even if you are not ready to plan out a total brand redesign, tweaking small things while still maintaining your existing brand identity creates the perfect chance to reconnect with your audience, spread your message further, and lay down a necessary foundation for your brand’s future.

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