How long have you had your current logo? It’s not something you think about much once it’s established. But logos and the brands developed around them age over time. When does it need a refresh?
Familiar Can Become the Enemy of Memorable
Some visual brands stand the test of time. But others become so familiar that they end up stale or dated looking.
Mike Woodburn, our Creative Director, had this to say about brand familiarity:
“Often it’s really difficult to achieve familiarity with a brand, so it is indeed a valuable asset. It enhances trust. Thing is, when the visual representation of the brand is SO familiar, it can become stale, and the brand as a whole loses impact.”
This is especially true of companies in the tech, science and professional services sectors. Those businesses really need to convey that they are on the cutting edge in their industries.
Some visual brands stand the test of time, requiring only minor changes over time—Ford, Coca-Cola, Apple. They hold their value well because they are associated with legacy products or have a timeless look and feel. McDonald’s, Nike, Microsoft, and other companies known worldwide continually refresh their brand identity. Reasons given include keeping up with modern aesthetics, reflecting customer ideals, expanding product offerings, conveying innovation—all sorts of reasons.
Most importantly, it keeps them memorable and relevant.
PlanetMagpie’s own branding has strategically changed throughout the years, but Magpie, our canine co-founder, always inspired it. She was just a puppy when Robert started his company, and went with him to all his customer visits. He built the brand based on her, in order to embody her great Labrador Retriever values—loyalty, honesty, dependability, and tail-wagging happiness.
When we redesigned our website last year, we also refreshed the PlanetMagpie brand messaging. We’d found that customers didn’t always know the full extent of our services. So we created a new message – “The Four Pillars of Business IT” – and reworked the website to reflect just how comprehensive each “Pillar” was. While our logo itself didn’t change, we updated how we presented it along with an updated color palette, new imagery, typography and overall visual style to go along with our latest positioning statement.
How do you know if you need to update your brand identity?
First, put aside any emotion you have attached to it. Step back and look at your brand with a practical eye. Second, look for the warning signs.
The 5 Warning Signs Your Brand Needs Refreshing
Is your brand memorable and representative of who your company is? Look through this list. If you’ve experienced one or more of these signs, your branding efforts may no longer reflect how you want customers to perceive you . . . and that can hurt your sales.
1. Change in Business Focus or Scale
Is your company changing its business model? Did it grow substantially? Does your brand quickly convey what you do, and where you stand in your industry?
One of our customers, Staples Construction, has grown quite a bit in the past five years. They were competing for large construction jobs, but their branding looked old compared to their competitors. PlanetMagpie helped them refresh their brand with a new logo, website and marketing collateral. Now the brand matches the company’s growing power!
2. Market Share Loss
Are customers drifting away from you, toward a competitor? Does your website look outdated? Could you re-use your existing logo on a modern website, or would it look out of place?
MJK Homes develops high-end custom homes in Los Altos, California. A few years ago, they felt a brand refresh would help them better compete in the custom home industry there. It worked—the refresh brought in new projects that helped them grow.
3. Change in Demographics
Are you keeping up with modern customers’ expectations & habits? Each customer generation has a new set of preferences and tastes. A brand adored by their grandparents may have sentimental value, but can become a relic of a bygone era. To attract the current consumer, your brand should appeal to them.
Take Folger’s Coffee. Folger’s had a longtime-trusted brand, but needed to attract contemporary consumers. The new Folger’s brand is now brighter and bolder in appearance, while meeting today’s on-the-go needs with Keurig cups and singles packets.
4. Inconsistency Across Media Types
Does your brand look/sound different depending on the marketing medium? That’s an easy way to confuse customers. Sure, the name is the same, but the brand shouldn’t look different on Instagram than it does on your website. An older identity design may not have taken into consideration the modern era of screen-based media. Consistency across all media channels is paramount.
Ideally, branding creates an emotional connection between your business and the customer. Like recognizing a familiar face, consistent branding allows customers to recognize you quickly, regardless of the medium. Customers want a brand that is dependable, and consistency equals dependability.
5. Negative Feedback
Do customers look at your brand and say, “Wow, you’ve been around a long time!” . . .and it doesn’t sound like a compliment?
Denny’s interior design was outdated. It wasn’t even “so ugly it’s awesome,” it was just ugly and customers told them so. In 2014, Denny’s rebranded itself with a unique mix of nostalgia and modernity. The redesign reinvigorated Denny’s as a destination for families, roadtrippers, and concertgoers who “need” some “Moons Over My Hammy” at 3AM.
What Goes Into a Brand Refresh
Your brand identity is comprised of symbols, images, words and colors that impact customer perceptions. Those perceptions are what distinguishes your company from others in people’s minds.
A brand refresh begins with determining which of these components need strategic updates.
- The most common component is the company logo. This is the cornerstone of your visual identity. You can do simple updates to modernize it, or a complete redesign.
- Equally important is messaging. Taglines and the “voice” of your content consistently tell your story, and reflect who your company is today.
- Visual identity and messaging show everywhere—business cards, websites, brochures, advertisements, proposals, emails, social media. A brand refresh looks at all of these.
- Lastly, don’t forget to do audience research. Know what your audience needs and expects. Are they getting those things from your business?
It's not a small effort. But it's a powerful one, and often, it's the single best marketing investment a company makes.
Do you know a colleague whose company brand could use a refresh? Please forward this email over to them.
When did your brand last get a refresh? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you think.