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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Small Changes, Big Impact – Subtle Brand Refreshes That Hit The Mark

Image that represents a rebrand - computer with two cartoons liking the rebrand text

A successful image update doesn’t have to mean a total overhaul. For lots of companies, the big win comes from the little tweaks…

Ever heard the saying don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater? It’s essentially a warning not to throw away something valuable when you’re getting rid of the stuff you don’t want.

And it can be sound advice for lots of companies when reviewing their visual ID. They don’t want to throw away everything they’ve built up in terms of their image, but they do want to make some subtle changes to bring things up to date and forge ahead in the digital arena.

A little tweak here and there can go a long way in giving a brand a 21st-century kick. Just ask this lot…


BMW refresh example with before and after logos

Unveiled in 2020, BMW’s subtle tweaks have brought its image bang up to date. The firm is the latest in a long line of car companies to plump for a minimalist, flat logo, removing any hint of gradient or texture. Meanwhile, the metallic black ring has been replaced with a transparent one, meaning it can change colour depending what background it’s on.

The new-look simplicity shows the German kingpin is committed to the digital age, yet its trademark blue and white circle design shows it’s equally devoted to its heritage.


Tripadvisor refresh example with before and after logos

Tripadvisor was another big name to launch a cleaner, more contemporary look last year. Its wise old owl has seen it through two successful decades, so that was never going to fly the nest. However, the feathered friend did get a style makeover as part of the image refresh. Ollie, as he’s known, has been simplified and his colours replaced by plain black. The travel site also revealed an updated font and a brighter shade of green.

Of course, refreshing a brand goes way beyond the logo. At the time of the unveiling, eagle-eyed visitors to the website will also have noticed a new set of colourways, including rose pink and mustard, and a new collection of icons to add a contemporary zip.


Fisher-price refresh example with before and after logos

Fisher-Price proved that refreshing a brand is child’s play. Its changes were subtle, but look carefully and you’ll see a series of tweaks have contributed to its more modern, playful feel.

The historic awning graphic has changed from four scalloped edges to three, a nod to the brand’s three founders. The switch to all lower-case adds a child-like feel to things. And the hyphen is now a little smile, adding to the overall sense of fun.


Guiness refresh example with before and after logos

Guinness showed it wasn’t afraid to buck the trend when it updated its image. While other companies were busy simplifying their designs, opting for flat, minimalist versions, the beer brand redrew its famous harp symbol, adding more detail.

The designers behind it felt the iterations over the years had left the harp lacking depth and character. The result is a clever combination – a contemporary logo that lets the brand’s heritage shine through.


Facebook refresh example with before and after logos

Some companies refreshing a brand leave you wondering why they bothered, and Facebook’s 2015 effort is a classic example. The most exciting change, if you can call it that, was a switch from a double-storey ‘a’ to a single-storey one. Yep, really. The quest was to modernise the logo and make it feel more friendly and approachable. Cue tumbleweed…

Refresh Vs Rebrand – What’s The Difference?

It’s important to know the difference between a refresh and a rebrand if you’re to know what works for your business. A refresh keeps your existing brand ID in place, but allows you to implement a series of updates to your logo, slogan, image style, font or colourways. A rebrand, meanwhile, is more of a complete change, parting ways with your current brand identity and overhauling your image from top to bottom.

Refreshing A Brand – When Is The Right Time?

Answer yes to any of these questions and, chances are, a refresh is on the cards…

Has anything changed?

It could be that your product offering has changed, or you’ve forged ahead in the digital arena. It could even be a shift in the type of customer you now attract. If there’s been a fundamental change since your last refresh, your image needs to reflect that.

Does your look feel out of date?

Tastes change fast, and what worked a few years ago may not be hitting the mark now. Canvass opinion – does your brand’s ‘outfit’ say contemporary, forward-facing business? If not, some simple style tweaks can make a massive difference.

Are you lacking consistency?

As businesses grow, it becomes harder to keep a level of consistency across your branding. A refresh is a great chance to get everything seamless across all platforms.

Are you moving in a different direction?

If growth in new areas is on the cards, take a moment to re-evaluate your branding and whether it hits the mark for all your future customers.

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.

We want to hear about all your opportunities and how we can work together. Let’s chat.

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