Brand Refresh vs. Rebrand: Which Do You Need?


A formidable brand strategy can set you apart from your competition. When done right, it can humanize your business and help you connect with your target audience better. If your current branding efforts aren’t doing any of these things, it might be time for a change. But here’s the dilemma: What is a brand refresh vs. rebrand, and how do you decide which one to choose?

Research suggests that companies spend up to 10% of their annual marketing budget on rebranding. If your brand feels stagnant, it might be time for a refresh. 

Are you ready to give your brand a new lease on life? All it takes is the right strategy… 

What Is a Brand Refresh vs. Rebrand?

The most important question to address before you do anything else is to establish the distinction between a brand refresh vs. a rebrand. At first glance, these terms appear to be interchangeable. But there is a significant difference that can inform your strategy moving forward, just like there is a difference between branding and brand identity.

Whether you choose to implement a brand refresh vs. rebrand, this process is not without risk. So, you need to evaluate the potential gains of such a move against the potential risks. 

A rebrand is like throwing out your old wardrobe of suits and ties to purchase carpenter pants and hoodies. Just like clothing helps us identify people, your organization’s colors, fonts, and copy help inform your audience who you are at first glance. A brand refresh might looks like throwing out the suits and ties for more casual business blazers and pressed collared shirts. See! I'm still the same person, but I've just come into the modern age.

Which Do You Need? Brand Refresh vs. Rebrand

The decision about whether to perform a brand refresh or an all-out rebrand depends on how your positioning in the industry has changed over time. In other words, if your target audience’s perception of your brand is no longer what you intended it to be, your brand no longer fits the identity you want to portray, which prompts a change. 

(Keep in mind that data should serve as the compass for making this decision. You can determine whether your brand is in need of an update by what the numbers—and people—are saying.)

So, which is better in your case: brand refresh vs. rebrand?

Start developing a comprehensive brand for your business. Click to download our Brand Guidelines Kit.

When to Refresh Your Brand

There are two primary motivators for a company to think about doing a brand refresh: 

  1. The brand is no longer meaningful enough.
  2. The brand is not distinctive enough. 

In rare cases, both will apply to your brand. 

In the first case, the original branding is not aligned with the company’s identity, so it never really gained adequate traction in the industry. It could also be that the brand’s essence has diluted over time due to a lack of consistency or coherence in the brand messaging, which also causes it to lose its distinction from competitors. 

One of the reasons most companies lose their meaning and distinction is that they aim for brand extension. Since they are focused on expanding their verticals, they lose sight of the real focus and identity of the brand. 

When to Rebrand

According to a report by Landor & Fitch, 74% of S&P 100 companies have undergone a rebranding strategy within the first seven years. But not all rebranding efforts are successful, which is why you need to be smart about how you transform your brand identity. Moreover, according to Forbes, the entire rebranding process could take 12-18 months, making it a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.

You should consider rebranding when there is an evolving competitive landscape, and you need to revamp your brand to compete. Or it could be that you want to tap into a new market opportunity with a huge gain potential. Either way, rebranding is the only solution because you cannot achieve it with the current state of your branding strategy. 

Whether you choose a brand refresh or a rebrand, it’s important to assess the reason for doing so. Both take time and resources, so you must ensure that the risk will pay off in the long run. 

What Factors to Consider When You Change Your Brand

Holland and another Viral Solutions team member sitting at table mapping out a website wireframe on paper.

People want to completely throw out their current brand image, but they forget that their customers may have come to trust that image. A huge shift away from this can cause confusion and fear that they won't be getting the same products or results they got from the previous look.

Choosing between a brand refresh and a rebrand is a major strategic decision. If you decide to pursue either of the two, make sure you take the following factors into consideration to optimize your resources and maximize returns…

1. Understand the Reason Behind the Change

Rebranding can fall flat when you don’t have a strategic vision of what you want to achieve and why you’re making a change. The fundamental purpose of rebranding is what informs your branding strategy and drives the direction of your branding efforts. It’s not just a cosmetic makeover.

If you understand the purpose of executing these changes, you are more likely to succeed. Those brand changes have more impact on the brand and its audience. It’s also an important factor to consider when you are deciding between a brand refresh vs. a rebrand. 

2. Identify What Is Working and What Isn’t

Rebranding is an overhaul of your branding strategy, but that doesn’t mean you have to change every aspect of it. Inspect your brand under a magnifying glass and use current metrics to assess what is working and what isn’t. 

You can save time and resources by identifying elements of your brand that are working and keeping them intact while changing only those elements that require a change. Make sure to ask yourself these questions:

3. Account for Customer Sentiment

The advent of technology and social media makes it easier for brands to interact with their customers in real time. Therefore, companies should pay close attention to customer sentiments when rebranding. Gone are the days when brands tell consumers what a brand is; nowadays, what matters is what consumers tell each other about your brand.

Before you make a huge business decision, spend time listening to your customers. After all, they are the ones that will keep your business afloat, so it is vital that you keep them happy. Harvard Business Review also reveals that 64% of consumers form brand loyalty due to shared values. That’s an important point to consider when rebranding. 

4. Focus on the Core Message

It is easy to get sidetracked by analytics and ideas when rebranding. However, you should not lose sight of your brand’s core message. 

The core message serves as the foundation of your rebranding efforts. It should inform your target audience of what your brand stands for and what makes it unique. Keep that message clear, focused, and at the core of everything you do. 

5. Align Your Brand to Where You Want to Go

Rebranding is the opportunity to future-proof your brand. The decision about whether to do a brand refresh vs. rebrand should be based on the direction you want to take your brand in the future. 

When you change your brand, don’t just focus on who you are. You should also align your new brand identity to where you want your brand to go. It should serve both your present and future goals. That’s how you can ensure you have a brand that is built to last. 

6. Think About Your Budget

Business rebranding will require a high level of investment from your company. It will involve the brand strategy team, the design team, and your marketing team. These teams must work together to create a new brand that aligns with your business goals.

Knowing your budget will allow you to maximize your resources and people so you can effectively execute your brand face-lift.

7. Consider Brand Reputation

You need to be intentional when changing your brand so that it doesn’t end up hurting your brand reputation. Your reputation should be nonnegotiable. You must ensure that updating your brand will boost its stability and reputation instead of the other way around. 

Therefore, avoid changing your brand too much. If you do, your customers will start having doubts and lose trust in your organization.


Look at your brand as a whole and see if it's possible to make improvements across the board that will strengthen what you've already built without throwing everything out completely.

There’s no shortage of tales of rebrand disasters. Don’t let yours be one to add to the list. Whether you choose to undergo a brand refresh vs. a rebrand, it’s all about planning and execution.

If you’re ready to take the big plunge, make sure to schedule a free consultation with our branding experts. We use our expertise to provide the guidance you need to take your brand to the next level. 


At Viral Solutions we are committed to seeing YOU succeed. It is our goal to grow your business with proven digital marketing strategies that will help your business for the long haul.

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Filed Under: Business Tips, Design

About Lindsey Perron

As Thomas’ daughter, Lindsey was introduced to the world of sales and marketing at an early age. Curious about what her dad did, Lindsey would jump at every opportunity to help and ride along on sales calls. Always quick to take charge and lead the group—a trait that has only grown with time—Lindsey was frequently told by her parents that she was destined to be a manager or CEO of some sort. While working toward earning her bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Lindsey interned with the UW Office of Equality and Affirmative Action and served on several councils, which gave her the opportunity to develop her persuasive writing skills, researching skills, problem-solving skills, project management skills, and more. After working as the lead teacher of the 4-year-old room at the local daycare center, Lindsey decided to switch gears and join the Viral Solutions team. In her position, Lindsey is able to help clients think through an end goal and reverse engineer it into the steps needed to achieve it.

When she’s not working, Lindsey loves spending time with family, be it traveling somewhere together or just hanging out at home.