What is a brand refresh, and is your company due for one?
A visual brand refresh is a way to breathe life into your existing brand identity without radically reinventing it. It may mean updating your logo, typography, tagline or messaging to better reflect the brand’s values, reach its target audience and remain relevant in an ever-evolving marketplace. After all, design is one of the most powerful tools a company has to communicate its identity and values. Most well-established companies undergo periodic brand refreshes to keep up with shifts in their audience, market or offerings. Discover the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand and get inspired by five of our favorite brand refresh examples.
What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?
A brand refresh updates your identity while a rebrand transforms it. Unlike a rebrand, a refresh doesn’t scrap existing assets; it elevates them. A brand refresh allows a company to shed what’s holding it back, like an outdated logo or counter-intuitive app interface. Though primarily a cosmetic solution, a refreshing visual branding can still have a wide impact on business performance and employee morale. A successful brand refresh will allow a brand to retain its core identity while entering a new market or expanding its reach to new audiences. A brand refresh can’t, however, solve more fundamental misalignment between a company’s look and audience—for this, you need a comprehensive rebrand.
What’s a rebrand? A rebrand is a total overhaul with the primary goal of changing the perception of a company. The more established a brand is, the more challenging it is to conduct a successful rebrand. However, this path may be the right one for a company if its audience or industry has fundamentally changed, if a brand is marketing drastically new products or services or repairing a damaged reputation.
How do you know it’s time for brand refresh?
Are you embarrassed to hand out your business card? Do you feel like your company has outgrown its color palette? Maybe you’re struggling to attract top talent or are seeing sales stagnate. These are all signs that a company may be ready for a brand refresh or rebrand. A brand refresh will help a brand stay relevant and revitalized—but still recognizable to its audience. Remember, a brand isn’t just a logo, tagline, font and packaging. It’s how the world sees and recognizes that brand. Below are five examples that illustrate just how impactful a brand refresh can be.
Draw design inspiration from these masterful brand refresh examples
Embrace History: Burger King
The fast food giant rolled out a whopper of a brand refresh earlier this year. The new logo is far from new, paying homage to the brand’s head-on, flattened 1969 logo. Despite simplifying the logo, Burger King didn’t sacrifice its personality or warmth in the process. The 1970s-inspired color palette, which includes mustard yellow, ketchup red and burnt orange, evokes the menu and flame, Burger King’s groovy new custom typeface, throws it back to ‘70s favorite Cooper Black but adds dripping round swashes reminiscent of melting food. While the logo is still recognizably “Burger King,” the nostalgic brand refresh helps Burger King stand out in a sea of sleek, sans serif fast food branding. It embraces the history of the world’s favorite fast food monarch while innovating the branding for the digital age.
Unify Services: Instagram
In 2016, Instagram simplified its camera logo, shedding a vintage look in favor of a bold, warm gradient that pops right out of the App Store. The new icon borrows the shape of the Polaroid camera from the brand’s former logo but streamlined the icon for more visual cohesion with the minimalist 2D logos that emerged after the 2013 iOS update. Instagram’s brand refresh also included its lineup of mobile apps—Boomerang, Layout, and Hyperlapse—and a UI update with a sleeker, black-and-white interface. This refresh effectively modernized Instagram’s look, unifying its suite of brands and making users’ stories the main event.
Simplify Logo: Mastercard
Like Burger King and Instagram, Mastercard modernized its logo and made it two-dimensional to enhance legibility on small digital devices like phones and watches. Mastercard first launched their visual brand refresh in 2016, updating their logo to use a friendly gradient where the two circles connected. Then, they made another significant update in 2019. The simplified design removed the text, leaving just the two iconic interlocking circles. When your branding is so strong and identifiable, you can boldly simplify and trust that your loyal consumer base will still pick you out of a crowd.
Lean Into Values: Southwest
Similarly, Southwest’s 2016 refreshed some of its branding elements to help modernize the brand, unite an incohesive visual system and connect with more millennial passengers and business travelers. While the brand retained its color story, it switched the font in its logo to a rounded lowercase and adopted a heart as punctuation for a personal touch. This friendlier branding kept the heart of the brand alive while conveying their commitment to their audience of travelers.
Show your personality: Dunkin’
For its brand refresh, Dunkin’ retained the familiar pink and orange colors and iconic round sans-serif font. However, the brand simplified its name to “Dunkin,” which is how their customers have affectionately referred to the company for years. This name change builds on rapport with their audience and portrays the brand as friendly and familiar. The departure from their previous branding also reflects their expanded menu—the modern Dunkin’ is more than a place to get coffee and donuts.
Evolving Yakkety Yak’s Branding
An organization’s branding should evolve with its offerings and audience. As Yakkety Yak developed into a full-service digital content marketing agency, our branding grew up with us. We kept the American Typewriter font in our logotype as a nod to our roots in journalism—and adopted a mascot, keeping with the playfulness of our brand. We also refined our color palette for a more sophisticated one that was reflective of our growth as an agency.
Is your company due for a brand refresh? Leave it to the experienced designers and strategists at Yakkety Yak to conduct the market research, stakeholder evaluation and design execution essential to a successful brand refresh. Contact us today to get started or check out our services to learn more.