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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

6 tips for refreshing your brand identity

Decorative image with text "Review and Refresh your Brand"

Time marches on, and so do brands. They need to keep up with the pace, be modern, challenging and competitive. Sporting a dynamic and engaging brand identity is a must have for any growing organisation. Here we outline 6 things to consider when reviewing your brand identity before the inevitable brand refresh.

Any growing business needs a modern brand with the following firmly in place:

  1. A well-considered brand that supports all communications, including a modern visual identity consistently applied to all marketing comms.

  2. A considered tone of voice, personality and messaging structure that speaks to your customers.

  3. Guidelines on how to apply your branding across the business, including specific fonts, colours, visual styles, photography guidance.

  4. Templates to make communicating the brand easy for the marketing team.

We can help with all of the above but where do you start when thinking about a brand refresh? Read on to find out.

1 – The brand audit

The first task is to audit your current branding; you need to review where you are now in order to choose the best approach to move forward. A brand audit means looking at what you have in place now: what your brand looks like, what it says about you, and what communications you deliver as a company.

Next you need to think about where you aim to be in the future – your refreshed brand needs to support the company’s growth and ambitions. A plan can then be formed in order to take you from where you are to where you want to be.

The Brand Audit can be as simple as an internal review by the marketing team, but for larger business then market research must be carried out. Research into staff and stakeholder opinion reveals the internal perception of a brand, whilst customer surveys give valid insight into the external perception of the brand (the brand image).

2 – Changing a brand name

Depending on the outcome of the audit, you may choose to change your brand name. Don’t be alarmed, it is very rare that we would suggest changing a company’s name, although in some cases it is really needed.

If your company’s services or product range has broadened, or you now serve a very different market, then a new name might be in order. Alternatively, you may need to leave behind some negative press, or the result of a merger has drastically changed your offer. All of these examples could lead to a name change.

Many older businesses start with long convoluted business names which can be shortened. Trends in branding show that shorter brand names carry more brand power: they’re easier to remember and easier to share in a busy world.

3 – Development of the logo

It’s common for companies to develop their logos quite frequently. Often this is done subtly so that its customers rarely notice although from time to time companies make more significant changes in order to change perception. A notable example is BP (British Petroleum) back in 2000. They updated their logo from a shield to a softer flower emblem. This suggested a greener, more environmentally-focussed company.

BP Logo Changes from Shield to Flower

Before and after BP logo

Time flies, and we see lots of examples of company logos that have ‘gone to seed’ through lack of attention. Another common issue is where logos we’re first created in the 80’s with the latest wacky fonts, and, whilst innovative at the time, are actually quite hard to read – a fundamental issue. Don’t just change your logo for the sake of it, but do make sure that you review it over time.

Abbey National Logo Development

Before and after Santander Bank Logo (former Abbey National)

4 – Development of the identity

Even if the logo remains the same, the wider brand identity can be refreshed to give the brand a much needed lift. A brand’s identity (in a design sense) is everything visual that supports the logo, such as the graphic devices or structural elements used in advertising, direct mail or online.

Updating the brand identity can add personality to a fairly ‘flat’ brand, or can ‘soften the edges’ addressing the global trend for brands to be more human and approachable.

When we refresh a brand identity, we don’t normally suggest changing the key colours unless there is a good reason – after just a few years the colours can be a key brand asset it their own right. However, expanding the wider colour palette can help breathe new life into a brand. Also, a simple change to the corporate font can also make a big difference, changing the look all of the company’s marketing outputs.

5 – Review your brand’s strapline

Straplines (or Taglines) help communicate the essence of a business but these too need to be refreshed. The questions to ask are: does it best reflect where the company is today? Does it communicate who we are to our customers? Is it right for our future ambitions? We often review the company positioning and strapline as part of a brand refresh.

6 – Produce brand guidelines

You’d be surprised how many companies come to us without brand guidelines in place. This is a problem for a business of any size. After all, guidelines don’t have to be huge 100 page bibles, just an outline of the key brand elements in order to achieve brand consistency. True, for a large company, these can be fairly big guides but for a smaller company the key info can be summed up in just a few pages.

We can develop guidelines for companies to use internally and with their chosen creative agencies to ensure that comms are consistently delivered. The key is to define the basics, like font and colour, but this can be expanded into more comprehensive documents that include templates for things like Press Releases, Email Marketing, Social Media and Direct Mail. We can also create things like icon suites that are unique to the brand for added stand out.

What next?

So, you’ve refreshed your brand identity. Steady, it doesn’t stop there. Now you need to make sure your marketing materials follow suit.

Refresh your website design

However the branding is updated, the website design needs to be updated too. Even if a website has had considerable investment in usability and visitor conversion you can still refresh it by updating the branding. This would need to be done carefully and ideally with A-B testing to see which was most effective. I’ve always felt that many websites can be ‘humanised’ slightly, whilst retaining the professional edge, but it depends on the specific case.

Refresh you marketing and communications materials

As with the website, before the refreshed brand is released for general consumption all comms need to be updated too. This can be mean anything from Direct Marketing to Sales Literature to customer Welcome Letters. For larger brands, a brand refresh is often backed up by a customer awareness campaign and TV commercial, all revealing the new branding.

A specialist brand agency

An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

Want to work together? Get in touch today.

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