Rebranding vs. Brand Refresh: Which One Should You Consider?

By Dustin Myers, Foodable Industry Expert

As we understand the importance of how your brand identity affects potential customers, you’re probably wondering if it’s time for an update. Let's look at the difference in rebranding versus a brand refresh and consider if either is necessary for growing your brand.

What Is Rebranding?

Rebranding is a process of redesigning elements of the brand identity in order to realign your messaging and perception. This can include a new name, logo redesign, new colors, new messaging, and other core changes to the brand identity. Rebranding is not something that should be done often or with little care. However, when necessary, it can be a vital step in moving forward.

When Is Rebranding Needed?

Name change. A name change is a significant redirection in the life of a brand. If you are changing the name, there are probably strategic reasons for doing so. Redesigning the brand elements will be necessary in order to properly communicate the new direction and positioning.

Ownership change. Are there bad associations lingering from previous ownership or management? If so, a rebranding effort can be very effective in resetting expectations and perceptions. New ownership can bring a lot of new changes and improvements, and the public needs to know that things are different.

Repositioning. Has your restaurant changed its focus? We’ve seen the positioning of restaurants adapt and evolve through the years. If your brand design elements were intended to communicate something that no longer defines your focus, you may need to rebrand.

What Is a Brand Refresh?

A brand refresh is a process of updating the elements of the identity. This process is less drastic than rebranding. This is a visual update to better communicate your positioning and not a strategic change. A successful brand refresh will retain the elements that are working and update the areas that are not.

The logo should remain the same through a brand refresh, with only small improvements. Updates to colors, photography style, typography, and ad treatment can all be part of a successful brand refresh. Successful results can include a more cohesive look, a more extendable set of design elements, a fresher aesthetic that grabs attention, or higher-quality and more trustworthy image.

When Is a Brand Refresh Needed?

Outdated. The core elements of a brand identity should be timeless and require little changes over the life of a brand. However, colors, fonts, photographic style, and other supporting elements will need to be refreshed in order to remain relevant. If the elements in your branding haven’t been updated in the past five years, you should solicit outside opinions on whether or not your visuals are still appealing.

Poor quality. Sometimes you have to start out on a shoestring budget and can’t afford quality brand design that is cohesive, memorable, and distinctive. Although that may get you by for a while, a successful company needs to develop brand standards that define who they are, who they’re communicating to, and what that should look like. A brand refresh can be a great way to fine-tune or build on what you have already established.

Change in target audience. Does your brand identity connect with baby boomers, but not Millenials? If you are needing to connect with a different target audience, rebranding may be necessary to make your restaurant appealing to a different demographic. This can include visual updates, as well as messaging

A Word to the Wise

We have seen brands such as Gap and Tropicana that received negative backlash from an ineffective rebranding effort. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. The more brand equity you have built, the more careful you need to be with making changes. Don’t rebrand unless there are fundamental changes that need to be reflected.

A brand refresh can be a great way to stay relevant and engaging, but don’t make drastic changes that are going to catch your loyal customers off guard. Implementing changes slowly and intentionally can make all the difference in growing your brand.

Remember that customer perceptions trump our own perceptions. Branding is a vital part of a successful company. Invest the time and money necessary to make sure that you are communicating the right message to the right people.

“Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity. It’s not the process of connecting good strategy with poor creativity, poor strategy with good creativity, or poor strategy with poor creativity."  — Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap