Most businesses today wouldn’t still be open if they had stuck with their original brand strategy. Brands and their audiences evolve over time, and a brand refresh is a perfect way to stay relevant and keep up in a competitive landscape.

However, you don’t need to hire a fancy branding agency and spend a million dollars on a new logo either.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash.

This is something we know from firsthand experience, as we just did a brand refresh at my company, Jotform.

In this post, we’re sharing some of our experiences with our brand refresh, as well as advice on when you should and shouldn’t embark on one.

How often should you do a brand refresh?

On one hand, you don’t want to look outdated and out of touch with your audience. However, completely overhauling your branding on a regular basis can get confusing or frustrating for your customers.

Don’t refresh your brand just for the sake of it. There should be a strategy behind the changes you make.

Unfortunately, there’s no set timeline for when to update your brand, and every brand is unique. While you can schedule a regular time to assess whether you need a refresh, updating your brand at arbitrary intervals might not be the best idea.

Instead, look for signs that indicate it’s time for a change. We’ll cover those signs later in this post, but first, you need to know what’s involved with a brand refresh.

What’s involved in a brand refresh?

Brand refreshes are often confused for full rebrands, but there’s a big difference between the two. You’ll need to determine which one is best for your business.

A rebrand is more involved than a brand refresh, so you’ll want to be sure that’s the route you want to take before investing the time and effort. A rebrand means repositioning your brand. It involves in-depth research, design changes, tone and messaging updates, and more. Because these are bigger changes, it often takes longer to execute a rebrand than a refresh.

A classic example of a company that rebranded to better reflect its products is Dunkin’. Dunkin’ was originally known as Dunkin’ Donuts because the company’s primary offering was donuts. When it shifted to focus on other products like coffee and additional breakfast items, the company updated its branding by changing its name to Dunkin’.

A brand refresh involves updating the look and feel of your brand by implementing smaller improvements. Typically, that means updating the visual components of your brand, but it can also be a revamp of processes, products, services, name, or even culture.

With a refresh, you stay true to the essence or core of your brand; you’re just making updates. A refresh can help draw your audience’s attention and entice them to look into what else could be new.

Think of it like working on a house. A brand refresh involves redecorating and applying a fresh coat of paint. A rebrand would be tearing down the walls for a full remodel.

For example, a logo refresh might involve minor tweaks to make it feel more modern while still keeping the same recognizable design. A rebrand of the same logo would include changes like new colors, a new name, and a completely reimagined design.

Remember, there’s no reason to take a sledgehammer to your brand if all you need is a paintbrush. In the next section, we’ll share the signs that indicate it’s time for a refresh instead of a full rebrand.

3 signs you need a brand refresh

Think your company is in need of a brand refresh? That might be true if your business fits any of these criteria.

1. Your brand is inconsistent

Is your brand consistent across all platforms and touchpoints, including social media, digital, print, video, retail stores, and your point-of-sale system? If not, you may need a brand refresh to pull your image together. Consistency is key for displaying a strong brand image.

For instance, let’s say you hand a prospective customer your business card. If they visit the website and Facebook page listed on the card, and none of the colors, images, and messaging match, then the prospect may perceive your business as not credible and untrustworthy.

2. Your audience has evolved or expanded

Sometimes it’s your audience or market that changes. Maybe your audience’s values have evolved, or you’ve expanded into new territory. Either way, if your brand doesn’t resonate with your new audience, then it’s time for a refresh. Otherwise, you risk not being able to attract your audience with your branding.

For example, Starbucks is well known for its subtle brand refreshes designed to resonate with its growing, diverse audience around the globe. The brand value of Starbucks worldwide has more than tripled in just 10 years, from $3.34 billion in 2010 to $11.25 billion in 2020. This significant growth in global brand value can be attributed in part to Starbucks’s proactive brand refreshes that kept it relevant to new audiences.

3. Your offerings have changed

Over time, your brand may have shifted the focus of its core offerings or added new ones to the mix. Branding that reflects the old lineup of products or services should be refreshed to more accurately represent current offerings.

This was certainly the case for us at Jotform. We launched in 2006 as an online form builder. However, 15 years and 10 million users later, our product has evolved and expanded, and so have our customers’ perceptions.

Final thoughts

Don’t let your business fall behind by ignoring the signs that it’s time for a brand refresh. Stay on top of your industry, monitor trends, and watch competitors closely to help determine what updates to make to your brand. Most important, know your audience. At the end of the day, they’re the ones your branding strategy needs to speak to.

Read more: Brands Must Do This to Appeal to Gen Z