Fresh eyes

When is the right time to change your brand identity?

Written by David Adams,
Chief Operating Officer
and Head of Brand at Freshfield

All business and marketing leaders will consider a review of their brand identity at some point.  

If you are considering a review of your current brand identity, the fact that you’re actually thinking about it may mean that some red flags already exist with your current identity which would justify a brand refresh or full rebrand 

While not something to be entered into lightly, it’s important to remember that changes to brand identity are just part of the natural evolution of every strong and forward thinking organisation. 

Which path you ultimately follow will be very much dependent on your circumstances, motivations, and goals as an organisation. However, such a review of your branding can have massive, positive impact if carried out for the right reasons, at the right time and in the right way. 

Why change? 

Let’s then look at some of the many reasons which might prompt such a strategically important decision. 

  • Your current logo reflects a legacy of poor design or creative execution 
  • Whilst looking great in print, it doesn’t work when applied in digital formats 
  • Visually, it is similar to other brands 
  • Your employees are embarrassed by it 
  • It no longer reflects your aspirations or status in the marketplace 
  • You’re following a new strategy and direction in the market and want to engage new audiences 
  • You’re undergoing a merger or acquisition or significant organisational change 
  • You’ve evolved beyond your original product and service offering, and have outgrown it 
  • You’re expanding into new geographic markets and in particular international markets where your brand may not be a good fit 
  • You are struggling to shake off some major, legacy reputational issues associated with your business 
  • You’re wishing to redefine your organisation’s values, mission, and purpose 
  • Your business structure and ethos has changed significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic  

There’s certainly no shortage of reasons why a change might be warranted. What direction that takes you in, will be very much dependent on the context of the challenges you face and your appetite for change.  

A light touch brand refresh for instance involving a subtle evolution of your current brand identity, might be all that is required to help make your brand more current, relevant and attractive to your target audience.  

For more complex scenarios such as a merger or acquisition, brand repositioning, or aligning yourself to a completely new market, a full rebrand might be required which could involve a new trading name being selected. 

While the benefits and opportunities presented are clear, there are also risks. As such, any decision needs careful consideration along with professional advice and support from a branding specialist. 

Make it a success 

Once you’ve taken the decision to carry out a brand refresh or rebrand, there are some important steps to take to help ensure a successful outcome. 

1. Get senior management buy-in 

It’s essential that your organisation’s leadership understands the value of a brand refresh or rebrand and is aligned on the reason behind it. They will need to take an active role in the process, and this will have a pivotal role in the impact and success of the brand strategy. 

2. Assemble your internal team 

Putting the right in-house team together to manage the project and liaise with your branding partner is essential. Who is involved will vary dependent on the size of your organisation, but as a guide should include representatives from your senior management team, marketing, sales, and HR functions based on the value and insights they can bring to the table. 

3. Communicate why you’re carrying out a brand refresh or rebrand 

Having already got leadership buy-in, you should have no problem in explaining the reasons behind why you’ve chosen to carry out a brand refresh or rebrand, as well as the benefits and opportunities it presents to your organisation. This is important as it will inform and influence many of the decisions made throughout the process. 

4. Learn from other brands 

Research other brands who have been through a brand refresh or rebrand and take inspiration from those who have done things the right way. These can be competitors in your own market, or non-related brands such as Coty, Starbucks, Shell, airbnb, Mastercard, Instagram or BP – whether that be in the context of a visual evolution or revolution. Learn from the mistakes of those who didn’t such as Gap and Tropicana. 

5. Define your goals, budgets and timeline and be realistic 

It’s crucial that you set specific, achievable goals for your rebrand, as well as a realistic timeline for the various phases in order to be fair to yourself and your branding partner. Time and cost are different for every organisation and will be influenced by the size and complexity of your own. 

6. Find the right branding partner 

Who you end up partnering with will be essential to the ultimate success of the project. They will need to be the right fit culturally and their approach to the brand refresh or rebrand process should fill you with confidence, as should their brand experience from both a strategy and creative perspective. 

7. Leave subjectivity at the door 

Providing your branding partner with a good brief and helping them get under the skin of your brand is important. What your favourite colour is, or what other logos you like, isn’t. Design by committee simply doesn’t work and neither does allowing subjectivity and personal preferences to get in the way of the design process. Trust in your agency, invest in the relationship, support the process and let them get on with what they are good at. 

Freshfield’s branding team has decades of experience of helping organisations and marketing teams manage and deliver brand refreshes and rebrands. Please contact David Adams if you would like to discuss your own situation.  

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