Guest post by 10x digital, a holistic digital marketing agency focused on data-driven results, offering comprehensive services and innovative strategies. 

Refreshing your existing brand, whether in entirety or simply creating the next evolution, isn’t just a luxury: it’s a must. Over the past year, we’ve seen the needs, behaviors, and profiles of our consumer audiences change, and it’s our job as marketers to pivot our brand experience to that shift. Your brand equity is dependent upon meeting the needs of your consumer audiences. 

The process of refreshing your brand doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul but rather an analysis of your brand’s current performance. Start by bringing these two key questions to the table:

  • Does our brand convey our company’s vision, key messaging, and solutions?
  • Does our brand resonate with our intended target audience, or is it missing the mark?

Based on your team’s responses and audience research, you’ll be able to build a tactical pathway. Try the following small, intentional pivots to enhance your brand and expand its applications.

Why the visual identity of your brand matters. 

The first step is understanding the importance of your brand. Your brand image is more than an aesthetic or pretty design; it’s what forms your audience’s first impression of your organization. When done correctly, your brand becomes a complex ecosystem that can involve values, tone, logo, icons, imagery, themes, movement, and visual representations.

Simply put, brand image is how you build recognition, credibility, and equity in your market. Solomon Thimothy, Forbes Council Member, explains: “if you don’t put the effort into maintaining a consistent brand image throughout every interaction a consumer has with your brand, you’ll find it very hard to develop an easily recognizable one.” 

man working on laptop

When to consider refreshing your brand identity.

The process of rebranding, whether in-full or in-part, can incur costs. This can range from working with a digital marketing agency to managing internal employee time or conducting outside research. Before diving head-first into a full evolution, perform a cost evaluation of the time, money, and energy the process will require—the right rebranding strategy has the power to revitalize your business, but it doesn’t always come easy. 

If you’re still not sure whether you’re due for a rebrand, consider if your organization: 

  1. Has outdated branding;
  2. Is struggling to differentiate from the competition; 
  3. Needs to connect with a new consumer type; 
  4. Has recently improved or adjusted your business offering. 

Any of these instances can be a catalyst for a rebrand and are a good reason to kickstart an evolution.

Back to the basics: the three c’s of good branding.

Let’s keep it simple. There are three key C’s of good branding that should guide both your evaluation and adjustments of your brand:

  • Consistency: Does our brand feel the same across our various platforms?
  • Clarity: Does our brand clearly represent our company’s vision?
  • Cohesion: Do our brand aesthetic elements work together in harmony with each other?

If you’re stuck on which direction to go, always lean toward a simple and clear brand design. Brands are scaling back their messaging and subsequent brand visual identities to reflect the core values of their message. 

Simplicity in design is how you connect with the modern consumer in a matter of seconds—and sometimes that’s all you have. Reports show that it takes the average consumer 0.05 seconds to form an opinion of your website. The truth? That means they’re judging your visual branding before anything else (and it’s your job to make a good first impression).

MasterCard’s recent rebrand was an exercise in scaling back, explained Michael Bierut, Pentagram Partner. “There was a lot of screw tightening and design tinkering happening [with the logo] in the first 30 years of the company. Then they almost got frozen in 1996. We took their DNA and went through this process of distillation…with each wave of simplification, it felt sharper, cleaner, and more flexible.”

woman typing on laptop

Your brand’s next steps.

So, you’re ready to start your brand evaluation process. Here’s a basic roadmap to guide your strategy:

  • Go back to the drawing board. Perform a complete analysis of where your brand is and where you need to go, including research of competitors, target personas, influential brands (shining star examples in your industry), and emotions you want to evoke with your brand. Develop your visual brand guide to include fonts (their uses and colors), patterns, photography style, etc. 
  • Collaborate with designers to understand your design style. How you share your brand can range from a classic style to minimalist to even modern or retro. Your design style significantly impacts how you and your offering are viewed, so select a style that resonates with your vision and intended audience. An example of a strong design shift comes from the recently rebranded Guinness, taking a traditional logo (200 years old) and shifting to a modern/minimal look without losing their core message or elements.
  • Test your brand everywhere, and get feedback. Does your brand extend from web design to print material, social media, and merchandise? Testing your brands in every corner it might reach is key to understanding the flexibility of what you’ve created. Ask for feedback from peers, consumers, and trusted advisors to get a 360-degree review of your work.

Who’s perfected the brand refresh?

Need to source a little inspiration to get started? Here are some of the brands that have been through impressive rebrands that paid off for their consumer base:

  • Taco Bell: For the popular fast-food brand, authenticity was a key element of their re-brand. “We have always been known as an innovative brand from the food perspective, but now we’re carrying that through with our design and introducing the brand as a lifestyle brand and not just a fast-food restaurant,” says Deborah Brand, VP of Development and Design for Taco Bell
  • GoDaddy: During a significant rebranding process, the internet domain registration company introduced a new visual design to align with its vision to connect with the entrepreneurs that fuel their business. Leaning into the “Go” from their name, Cameron Scott, GoDaddy’s chief brand officer, shared that their “customers are looking for somebody to always have their back and it’s important for us to have a mark that represents that for them.” The subtle alterations in visual elements added to their brand equity.  
  • Trip Advisor: Another testament to the power of simplicity, Trip Advisor went through a rebrand to create a more seamless application across their digital presence. “Our brief was to prepare the brand for the next 20 years by refining its most distinctive assets and introducing new ones, which would create a more cohesive visual identity,” shared Mark Sloan, head of design.“By allowing the logo to live in one color and reproduce well at all sizes, we’ve made it more flexible and less susceptible to misuse in the marketplace.”

Build a brand that works for you.

At the end of the day, you need to treat your brand like a member of your team: set benchmarks for its success against business objectives and help it evolve over time to meet your audience’s needs. Depending on the size and capacity of your organization, consider outsourcing your rebranding campaign. Working with a digital marketing agency with branding expertise will give you access to an army of specialists (i.e., designers to create, PR team to promote, developers to execute new web presence). 

You only get one impression with consumers, so let’s get it right.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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