4 really good reasons for a brand refresh

4 really good reasons for a brand refresh

A brand refresh can be a powerful tool – so long as it’s for the right reason.

But let’s start with a really bad reason. And this is all-too-common – the owner, or CEO wants a change. They’re fed up or bored with the brand or brand identity – often one that’s taken a long time to become established and build recognition.

A second bad reason is that a new CMO has arrived and wants to make their mark. What’s an easy way to do that? Refresh the brand.

My general advice is to never tinker with a brand that is established without serious grounds.

So here are 4 good reasons that may signal the need for a brand refresh.

1. Your customer base has moved on.

Brand strategy always starts with the consumer. But it’s important to keep reviewing the strategy, because the world doesn’t stand still – and nor do the customers.

The key consumer drivers in place when the strategy was created may have changed. It may be time also to reconsider shopping habits and communications channels. A brand refresh may be needed to ensure that the brand is aligned with current needs and wants.

Messaging may need updating to reflect the demands of new generations of consumers – not just verbal and written messages, but each semiotic signifier – symbols, images, colours, etc. Brand identities that may once have survived 10 years or more may need reviewing more often.

2. Your business has moved on.

Are you brand goals and aims still the same? In the same way that your customers’ requirements may have changed, so might those of your business.

External influences, economic, political, legislative, social etc., may have changed your commercial environment. You may have responded by changing the way you do business or adjusting your priorities.

A retailer may have moved more business into e-commerce, a heating engineer may have moved focus from domestic to commercial customers, an insurance broker may have identified a profitable, specialist niche to concentrate on.

Again, a brand refresh may be required to align the business but also to communicate change to your audiences.

3. Technology has moved on.

As we’ve mentioned already, your brand must provide answers for the needs and wants of your customers. Technological advances may make your solutions less relevant, or your emphasis may need to change.

When mobile phones arrived, for example, at least two sectors needed to look at their brand positioning. The first were landline providers – what unique benefit could they now offer over mobile providers?

The second sector was photography. Digital cameras had already changed how photographs were taken, but mobile phone cameras now changed why they were taken. No longer to store and file memories, but to instantly share fleeting events with audiences.

The place photography now occupied in people’s lives meant brands in the sector to re-think and refresh.

Refresh here means not only reviewing the brand offer, but also your communications. Has technology changed the communication channels you use?

4. Society has moved on.

Social changes, emotional and political, may be subtle or dramatic. For example, attitudes to environmental, racial and gender issues can change faster than we might think. Consider the social attitudes of 20 years ago – and remember a very different societal landscape – and ‘brandscape’.

It can be quite easy for a brand to be caught out, simply by allowing outdated attitudes and social values to persist in their organisation. Corporate leadership and brand leadership should be steering brand values. But also the time may be right to reconsider and refresh brand communications that may not kept up with the times.

Ian West
dangerous ideas

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