Brand Refresh vs Rebrand: Which is Best for You?


Understanding the distinction between a brand refresh and a complete rebrand is essential for determining which strategy is best suited for your business.




Date:Jun 24, 2024

Why is a Brand Refresh Important?

Legacy and tradition are the pride of many companies. It shows a connection to steadfastness, loyalty, and the origination of one’s brand. The first brand guide created for a company holds these sentimental values. It can be bittersweet to rejuvenate a brand in fear of losing the strong qualities that formed the foundation and the consumer base that came with it. However, an unchanging logo can become detrimental to a brand’s success due to complacency.

Brand Refresh vs. Rebrand: What's the difference?

Understanding the distinction between a brand refresh and a complete rebrand is essential for determining which strategy is best suited for your business.

Brand Refresh

A brand refresh involves making subtle, yet impactful updates to your existing brand. This approach does not mean eliminating tradition, loyalty, and recognition but rather building upon what was founded to match the company's desired direction. The goal is to modernize and enhance your brand's visual identity and messaging while retaining the core elements that have established your brand's reputation.

Key elements of a brand refresh include:

  • Logo Adjustments: Simplifying or updating the logo to improve scalability and legibility.
  • Color Palette Update: Introducing new hues inspired by the original colors to rejuvenate the brand’s assets.
  • Typography Enhancement: Updating fonts to reflect a more contemporary and consistent style.
  • Imagery and Iconography: Refreshing imagery to better align with the current brand vision and values.
  • Consistent Visual Identity: Ensuring all visual elements are cohesive across all media (print, digital, etc.).


A rebrand, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive overhaul of the entire brand identity. This approach is typically undertaken when a company undergoes significant changes, such as a merger, acquisition, or a shift in business strategy. A rebrand involves creating a new identity from the ground up, which may include a new name, logo, color scheme, messaging, and overall brand positioning.

Key elements of a rebrand include:

  • New Brand Name: Creating a new name that better reflects the company’s new direction or ownership.
  • Complete Logo Redesign: Developing a new logo that represents the new brand identity.
  • Fresh Color Palette and Typography: Selecting entirely new colors and fonts to differentiate from the old brand.
  • Updated Brand Messaging: Crafting new messaging that aligns with the updated brand values and goals.
  • Revised Brand Positioning: Establishing a new market position to appeal to a different target audience or reflect the company’s evolution.

Conducting a Brand Audit

Reviewing the application and usage of the brand’s identity, often called a brand audit, can help determine whether a brand refresh or a rebrand is necessary. Here are some questions to consider during a brand audit:

  • Is the logo scalable and legible for a range of sizes?
  • Does the brand’s visual identity have consistency throughout all media (print, digital, etc.)?
  • Does the imagery and logo represent the brand’s vision?
  • Does the brand feel timeless?

If your visual identity does not meet these standards, it may be time to consider a refresh to elevate your brand's quality and applicability. This type of brand audit creates an atmosphere open to refinement for the betterment of your brand. During the process, it is important to keep an open mind and remember your brand's overall goals.

By understanding the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand, you can make an informed decision about which approach will best support your company's growth and resonate with your audience.

Give your visual identity a lift — not an entirely new look

A brand refresh can entail multiple facets. Nonetheless, the most successful brand refresh is one that speaks to the identity of the already established brand while making it consistent, viable, and timeless. There are multiple ways this can be achieved while maintaining the overall essence of the brand. For example, utilizing hues from the original colors as inspiration for a new palette to revitalize the brand’s assets. This allows the brand to remain true to its legacy while providing the ability to rejuvenate the visual identity. This is only one example of ways your brand can be refreshed. Take a look at some specific scenarios below and what a brand refresh might entail for each.

You're Looking to Appeal to New Audiences

Expanding your target audience is a natural progression for growing businesses. A brand refresh can help you appeal to new demographics without alienating your existing customer base. By updating your brand's look and feel to align with current trends and preferences, you can attract younger consumers or those in different geographic locations. This might involve modernizing your logo, updating your color scheme, or refining your messaging to resonate with a broader audience. It's about finding a balance between staying true to your roots and evolving to meet the expectations of new potential customers.

Your Marketing is Underperforming

When your marketing efforts aren't yielding the expected results, it could be a sign that your brand needs a refresh. An outdated or inconsistent brand image can hinder your marketing campaigns, making them less effective. Refreshing your brand can breathe new life into your marketing strategy, providing a cohesive and compelling visual identity that captures attention and drives engagement. This could involve redesigning your website, updating your social media profiles, and creating new marketing collateral that aligns with your refreshed brand. By doing so, you can enhance your brand's visibility and improve the overall performance of your marketing initiatives.

Realign with your brand's values

Over time, a company's values and mission can evolve. A brand refresh offers an opportunity to realign your visual identity and messaging with your current values. This process ensures that your brand accurately reflects who you are today and what you stand for. It might involve updating your tagline, refining your brand voice, or incorporating new visual elements that represent your evolved values. By realigning your brand with your core values, you can create a more authentic and meaningful connection with your audience, fostering loyalty and trust.
Execute your brand refresh with an implementation plan
A successful brand refresh requires a well-thought-out implementation plan. This plan should outline the steps needed to roll out the refreshed brand across all touchpoints, including your website, social media, packaging, and marketing materials. Start by creating a timeline for the refresh and assigning responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition.

It's important to remember that this timeline does not need to result in an immediate update. A complete brand refresh takes time, and it's crucial to manage this process without causing unnecessary stress or panic. Communicate the changes internally to your team and externally to your customers, explaining the reasons behind the refresh and the benefits it brings.

Consistency is key, so ensure that all elements of your refreshed brand are cohesive and aligned. With a clear implementation plan that allows for gradual updates, you can effectively manage the transition and maximize the impact of your brand refresh. This approach helps prevent rushed decisions and ensures each step is thoughtfully executed, ultimately leading to a more successful and well-received brand refresh.

J2 Marketing: The best partners to lead your Brand Refresh Strategy.

Are you ready for a brand audit? Connect with our team today.

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