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The Difference Between Rebrands & Refreshes

Have you ever felt that your brand needed to change? You are not alone.

Many business owners and marketers struggle with knowing when to update their brand and to what degree it needs changing.

Brands are meant to evolve, meaning that they gradually develop in response to industry and business growth and consumer change. The most well-known and established brands evolve through refreshing and rebranding themselves many times over. They understand that a brand needs to change or evolve in order to continue building a reputation and connection with consumers.

When a brand needs to be improved, changed, renewed or updated, there are two approaches to consider. A rebrand or a brand refresh. Rebranding goes deeper and is an all-inclusive strategy while a brand refresh is surface level and can simply be a change in typefaces, color palette, or tag line.

Here are two definitions:

Rebrand: when a new name, design, message, and concept is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of others.

Brand Refresh: involves changing or updating an aspect of an established brand at the surface level. The identity and reputation of the brand are not altered.

You may be thinking about which applies best for your brand and business.

Here are 5 questions to ask when deciding between a rebrand and refresh.

  1. What is the current reputation of the business? Does it need to change or improve?

  2. What is the strength of the business name and how established is the brand?

  3. What are the goals and vision for the business moving forward? Different from the present?

  4. Who is our current target audience and does our current brand connect to them?

  5. How does our brand compare to the industry and to our competitors?

Review your answers. Do you see a need to change or develop a new identity? If so, you may need a rebrand. If you only see small changes needed, then a refresh is probably the answer.

Once you have processed, discussed, and answered these questions, you need to think about your budget. Oftentimes, clients have budgeted for the initial rebrand/refresh but not accounted for the implementation of the new branding. I did not add the budget as a question above because it should be evaluated separately. It should not be the main deciding factor between a rebrand and a refresh.

Let’s take a look at a few of our clients who we helped with rebrands and refreshes. If you want a more detailed look into developing a whole brand, download the FREE Staying on Brand Book.



Brands Beyond the Logo

The three brands above had established and reputable brands. The logos were identifiable and were not going to change. Each business needed to further develop their brand beyond their logo. They needed to refresh the brand by reestablishing the color palette, typefaces, design elements, and photography. Consumer expectations are rising. They trust and engage with brands who are consistent. An easy way for businesses to show consistency is through color, type, design, and photography. Consumers need to see and experience a brand multiple times before they act. If they see a different look for your brand every time they see you, you are starting at zero each time.

The Power of Color and Messages

IXO is a great example of a refresh vs. rebrand. Though they were evolving and aiming to reach a new target audience, they were not changing their name, mission, or core identity. But they did need to refresh their look to appeal to their current audience as well as a new audience. The former brand was dominated by red and yellow and took inspiration from Asian culture. As the brand has evolved to be more international and focused on entrepreneurs, we shifted the color palette to navy and yellow. Navy represented stability, entrepreneurship, and is more widely accepted across demographics. We made slight modifications to the font and graphic elements to reduce the Asian feel. Once the brand was refreshed, we developed a new website that more clearly communicated who they were, who they served, and how you could be involved in their non-profit organization. Messaging was just as important as the change in design for the logo.



New Name New Logo

When Auburn Family Medicine came to me, they were approaching many changes in their business. They were in the process of changing their name, moving to a new building, adding new physicians, and expanding their specialties in family medicine. Though the reputation of the founding doctor was not changing, the identity of the business was changing and thus a rebrand was necessary. We started by developing a new logo, color palette, and typefaces. We then created a new website, social media profiles, interior and exterior building signage, print materials, headshots, brand photography, etc.

New Audience and New Products

For many years The Cup & Saucer had been a well-known event catering business that also sold to-go meals. When the pandemic changed the world in early 2020, all events were canceled or postponed. This was an unexpected blessing for The Cup & Saucer as they had been wanting to pivot toward to-go catering and meals. As they focused more on to-go meals and a second location, they wanted to reach a new target audience, so we encouraged them to rebrand. The rebrand was successful in catching the attention of her current customers as well as attracting a newer, younger target audience as well. Once logos, packaging, signage, and print materials were designed, we focused a lot of attention on her photography and social media as this is very important in the food and restaurant industry.

Growing from an Individual to a Team

Auburn Opelika Lifestyle is a real estate team led by Ashley Durham. Ashley built a successful business and strong reputation for herself in real estate. As she grew, she developed a team of experts but no one knew about her incredible team. This happens a lot with businesses that start with a solopreneur and evolve into a larger team. The brand and marketing needs to reflect this evolution. Though we made small changes to their logo, the most impact was by creating a consistent brand in terms of color, typeface and graphics. We also focused the messaging and marketing on the team of experts. The consistent and repetitive brand messaging paired with photography of the team across all marketing and advertising venues has been very successful.


If you want to take a deeper dive into the differences between rebrands and refreshes, as well as see examples from well-established international brands, check out this blog post by Fabrik Brands.

If you need examples for implementing a brand for a service-based or product-based business, download the FREE Staying on Brand Book.


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