January 18, 2022
4 Mins to Read

Rebranding services vs brand refresh services

Rebranding services vs brand refresh services

Is there a disconnect between who your brand actually is and what you're projecting to the world? You may know you need to update your branding, and the good news is that you've got options.

Perhaps you already have a brand strategy in place — are you sure it’s up-to-date enough to stay true to who you are? Your brand should evolve alongside your organization. If your company has grown or pivoted, it could be time to re-examine your brand book and decide whether it is still relevant.

Often organizations do not need to undergo a complete rebrand when things feel a bit off; you may need to update pieces of your brand book instead of an entire overhaul, focusing on the parts of your brand that you have outgrown. But, if your business needs a full rebrand, the best time to start was yesterday — the second-best time is today. 

We can help. 

To help you prepare for the right course of action, let's take a look at what rebranding services and brand refresh services actually look like and how they differ. 


What is a brand refresh and how do you do it?

In today's ever-evolving landscape, refreshing your brand is a necessary step to keep up with changes in technology or style. Or, maybe you do it because you feel like your brand is a little "stale." We want to point out that if you're bored of your brand, it’s likely because you look at it every single day. However, your customers probably don’t and so even if you’re bored of it, they’re not.brand strategy icon

What is a brand refresh?

A brand refresh is subtle; it may involve: 

  • Changing your font 
  • Tweaking your color palette 
  • Tweaking your logo slightly 
  • Shifting your voice 

Essentially, a brand refresh doesn't change your brand foundation. Your foundation covers your brand strategy, including your brand substance and your positioning strategy. A brand refresh might and also might not address your brand expression, including your voice and visual expression.

Rebranding services and rebranding strategy

What is rebranding?

A complete rebrand takes care of your whole brand and can involve a new approach and strategic direction. It may also only involve certain pieces of your brand, like a new logo or name. A full rebrand sometimes occurs when there is an update in leadership or product and service offerings that will affect the market as a whole — or even if you're expanding into another domain altogether. Read about our own rebrand experience.

A full rebrand is the best way to get your company back on track when your brand isn’t expressing who you are. It helps establish that connection with your target audience, and it gives you an opportunity to rethink everything about what makes up your brand image.

What is a rebranding strategy?

This can also be an opportunity to examine any missing pieces in your brand book — a rebranding strategy can help you gain alignment, showing you the holes in your current plan. Does your brand book cover everything from your foundational elements — like your vision, mission, values, and position — to your guidelines — how you look, who you are, and how you sound? If not, you may have an opportunity right now to rethink your brand strategy

A rebrand doesn’t mean you have to change everything — plenty of brands keep their name and other marketing collateral, like their colors, that inspire brand awareness and hold brand equity. The rebranding services you’ll need to employ will depend on what your organizational goals are or what assets you already have.

But wait, it’s not really that easy to define.

The above definitions are clear-cut and defined. But, as many things are, it’s not that simple. Between refreshes and rebrands, there’s a fair bit of overlap and blurred lines.

The problem with the brand refresh examples you see online 

The problem with many of the brand refresh examples you see online is that often, these refreshes may actually be rebrands. Or leading to rebrands. Or, on the verge of being a rebrand. It’s all very confusing. People like to categorize refreshes as a ‘fresh coat of paint’ and rebrands as an entire overhaul of their brand, but we don’t necessarily believe this to be true. It’s too black and white. 

Let me explain. 

Let’s take a look at Starbucks for a brand ‘refresh’ example:

starbucks logos over the years

Sure, each iteration of its logo could — and should — be considered a refresh. But, when you compare 1971 to the present Starbucks logo, it’s obviously a rebrand. Starbucks evolved from a coffee bean store, to a cafe, to the lifestyle brand you see today through rebranding strategy. Their business model changed over the years, and the brand evolved with it, whether you call it a refresh or a rebrand. 

The terms "refresh" and "rebrand" are not definitive. Sometimes, a refresh can lead you to a rebrand over the years. Or, you may start with what you think is a refresh and end up with a rebrand. Often, clients come to us with a specific ask, when really they have a different problem they're not realizing. For example, a client came to us once asking for a new website because their current site felt 'off'. After an initial discovery session, it became apparent that their brand architecture wasn't telling the right story. To fix their site, we first had to work on their brand. 

You can say the same for brand refreshes. A client may come to us looking for a new logo, but in reality, it's a deeper shift within their business that needs to be addressed. 

Before you embark on a brand refresh, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Has my business model changed?
  • Am I going after a new audience? 
  • Has my service offering changed? 
  • Why do I feel like my foundation does not need to change but my visual assets do?

Major Tom’s solution: Bringing clarity to the chaos of refresh vs rebrand processes

Whether you are doing a rebrand or a refresh, you just want to make sure you make the necessary changes for your business to hit its goals or objectives. Regardless of what the name of it is, it’s all objective-based. Your brand is a means to an end; it should work toward your greater goals. 

At Major Tom, we use the brand chart below to map out our client’s complete brands.

brand rollout checklist
So, if your goal is to stand apart from your competitors, we would look at your positioning strategy. If you are having difficulty communicating with your audience, we would like you to consider both your brand substance and your brand expression. Every part of this puzzle should work together to build your complete brand. You might already have pieces in place; we can help you complete your brand book. If a piece is out of alignment, we can address it with you. And you can call it brand refresh services or rebranding services. 

We know there is no clear definitive answer to what makes a brand refresh and a rebrand. This is why we create custom offerings for brands like yours. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to branding.

Colleen Christison, Brand Communication Strategist

The more I learn, the less I know, and the more I want to learn.

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