Is it time to refresh your brand?

By Rod Griffith
November 3, 2016

Is it time to refresh your brand?

What to do when you’re suffering from brand weariness

The "Seven Year Itch"
It happens to the best of us. We start off completely in love. And for the first few years, things are perfect—couldn’t be any better. But around the seventh year, the excitement slows down a bit and the attraction seems to have lost its luster. You’re not unhappy—but you don’t quite have that passion that you used to have. You don’t say anything—at first—because you don’t want to upset anyone. But you can’t help feeling like something needs to change.

You’ve got brand weariness.

It’s normal. After all, you’re in marketing—and you’re staring at your branded tools all day long—whether it’s your website, brochures, white papers, PowerPoint slide decks or corporate videos, you’re constantly seeing your logo and your branded “look and feel.” And you’re tired of it. The logo you once thought was “cool” is now just plain dull. And those corporate brand colors that you once called “elegant” are now giving you nightmares. You can’t stand them anymore. You even stopped wearing the company t-shirt to the gym.

All of these are signs that you are experiencing that irritating Seven Year Itch, when you say, “It’s time to change our brand.” But before you do anything, you need to stop and think things through. There are two important realities you need to consider:
  • Brand weariness is felt internally long before it’s felt by the outside world. Don’t assume because you believe your brand is getting old and boring that your customers feel the same.
  • Brand consistency is more important than brand freshness. There’s a reason why world-leading brands like McDonald’s, Apple, or Toyota rarely make changes to their logos or brand identity (and when they do, it’s usually subtle adjustments). They know that brand consistency strengthens brand recognition. And when you’ve spent years gaining brand recognition in your marketplace, you most likely don’t want to make any drastic changes to your brand identity. In fact, companies that change their brand too often are—in some cases—struggling to survive and desperately trying new things in an attempt to look relevant to their customers again.
If brand weariness begins to settle within your company, don’t do anything until you’ve determined if that weariness extends outside the company to your customers and the marketplace. As we indicated, internal brand weariness often occurs long before the outside world feels it. But if you do believe your brand is weakening externally, then some kind of brand reinvigoration may make sense. There also may be other times when changes to your brand are justified. One example would be when your buyers are changing, and your brand no longer appeals to the changing customer base. Or perhaps your company is shifting its strategy in a major way by refocusing itself on new markets. It can also be an issue where some elements of your current brand are not working as well with the changes in new technology (such as fonts that are not Web friendly).

A brand revamp or brand refresh? That is the question.

A brand revamp, which may include changes to your logo; tag line; visual identity (color palette, fonts, design templates, infographics, iconography, etc.); or tone of voice—is a huge undertaking with potentially major consequences. It requires very careful consideration and planning. A full brand revamp should be implemented rarely—and it typically coincides with major changes in a company’s strategy. Unfortunately, it’s very tempting for marketers to want to take on a full brand revamp. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the creative freedom to completely revamp a company’s brand identity?

More often, however, it’s a brand refresh that you most likely need—not a full brand revamp. In a brand refresh, major brand identity elements—such as your company logo, primary brand colors, and general visual identity, are not altered significantly (or at all)—but are instead updated and enhanced with minor tweaks and adjustments designed to make the brand feel a little more fresh or modern.

The goal of a brand refresh is for your customers and the marketplace to still easily recognize your brand. Ideally, your customers may not even be conscious of these subtle changes—but subliminally they feel like your brand has been spruced up and reinvigorated.

Recently, MarketReach implemented our own company brand refresh. None of the adjustments we made were radical. Our logo was untouched—and our primary colors remained the same. Our brand refresh included an enhanced color palette (for secondary highlight colors), updated fonts, and iconography. Other refresh elements included an updated photography strategy along with an enhanced email signature and PowerPoint template. Be sure to check our refreshed elements on our website. So if brand weariness sets in (the “Seven Year Itch”), think first about whether it’s externally or internally driven. And if it’s external (i.e., your brand is no longer supporting your desired market positioning or reputation the way it once did), think about a brand refresh. It can be an excellent way to reinvigorate your brand with less risk—and with less cost.