Have your sales plateaued? Are you finding it harder to attract new customers? Are you launching new products or services? Have you recently gone through a merger or acquisition? Does your brand feel inconsistent across different touch points?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself to self-assess whether a brand refresh might be on the cards for you. For every business, brand is the heart of their identity. It is what customers recognise and trust. Ultimately, it’s the brand (not the product) that plays a crucial role in consumers’ decision-making processes when selecting one product, or service, over another.
But, even the most established brands can become stale, outdated, or out of touch with changing times and consumer expectations, leaving you at the bottom of the list or resulting in endless abandoned shopping carts.
So, is this where a brand refresh should be planned? Well yes, but there’s other key indicators to also consider in order to determine exactly what is required and when…
Some key considerations
Markets are continually evolving. We’ve all heard and probably witnessed scenarios where companies have not kept up with changing landscapes and start to look and feel a little less relevant. Consumer behaviours and preferences change, and brands need to adapt to remain competitive e.g needing to shift from a bricks and mortar store to an online shopping experience.
New competition or competitors stepping up their game
As new competitors enter your market, established brands may need to differentiate themselves to better resonate with customers. This can involve updating or better articulating your brand’s messaging, visual identity, (along with a potential update to product offerings and prices) to stay competitive.
You look at your brand and it simply “feels” outdated
When you know, you know. A brand that has not been updated or tweaked in a while may begin to feel a little off the mark, outdated and irrelevant to consumers. A refresher, even an uplift can help bring the brand into the current age whilst ensuring it is still aligning and connecting with customers desires.
Your company has had a strategic change in direction
As a company’s business objectives and goals change over time, so does its brand identity. For example, a need to secure higher margins and appeal to a new/growing market segment could mean shifting focus from affordability to quality and luxury. This type of shift may result in a change to how the brand communicates and an uplift in the way it does this (the identity and brand systems).
If you’re finding negative feedback in how consumers respond and interact with you, it’s probably time to take a look internally at what might be driving that. When a brand lands a negative reputation, a refresh is almost always on the cards. It goes a long way in helping the business reposition itself in the market to regain customer trust and credibility. A rebrand can help distance a company from the past and refocus their efforts on aligning with their customers morals, values and beliefs.
Establishing a foothold in a new target market
As brands seek to expand their customer base, they may need to refresh their existing brand identity or introduce a new brand to appeal to the new target market/demographics. This can involve updating visual elements, messaging, or product offerings to better resonate with the new target audience.
So what does this actually look like?
Let’s explore these signals a tad more with some examples of brands that have refreshed their identity over the years. And before you say it, yes, most of these are well known. However, it just goes to show that no matter how large a brand you are, no matter how much of a market share you have, it’s important to keep your brand fresh and relevant with your audience.
Remember Blockbuster? Blockbuster was pretty much THE video rental store to go to… but they didn’t adapt to the shift towards online streaming and were eventually replaced by companies like Netflix, Stan and Hulu. And let’s not forget Kodak, a massive camera and film company, really missed the market signals and failed to adapt to the shift towards digital photography.
New competition or competitors stepping up their game:
Pepsi underwent a massive rebranding effort in 2008 to differentiate itself from Coca-Cola and appeal to younger consumers. The updated brand identity included a new logo and updated packaging design. Pepsi’s rebranding effort had a positive impact on the company, helping to revitalise its brand and appeal to a younger generation of consumers.
Qantas had been using the same logo for almost 20 years and was seen as outdated and lacking by many consumers, young and old. In 2007 they unveiled a new brand identity, which included a new logo, aircraft livery, and brand positioning. They also launched a new brand positioning campaign, which focused on the airline’s heritage and reputation for safety and reliability: “Spirit of Australia”.
Strategic change in direction:
Apple shifted its focus from computers to personal electronics in the early 2000s, prompting a refresh of its brand identity and marketing campaigns.
A few years later in 2015 McDonald’s refreshed its brand identity to reflect a shift towards healthier menu options and a more modern restaurant design. This came as they recognised their audience and primary consumer was growing up forcing them to do the same in order to maintain a monopoly in the market.
Negative brand reputation:
Yep… we’re digging up Volkswagen and their diesel scam! Come on… it was a massive “faux pas” and yet look at them go now! Volkswagen underwent a realignment effort in 2016 following the “Dieselgate” scandal. (Remember… where they installed illegal software on diesel vehicles to deceive us all about their high emissions?) The company updated its brand to distance itself from the scandal and shift consumer perceptions toward their new stance on sustainability.
In the early 2000s, KFC faced criticism over the health implications of its menu, which was high in calories, fat, and sodium. In addition to introducing healthier menu options, they rebranded, dropping “Kentucky Fried Chicken” to a simple “KFC”. The company believed that the word “fried” had negative connotations and wanted to distance itself from that image. While KFC still offers its classic fried chicken, the company’s efforts to offer healthier options and rebrand itself as KFC have helped to keep the brand relevant and appeal to a broader range of consumers in an ever-changing market.
Establishing a foothold in a new target market:
Long before “woke” was a “thing” Mattel faced criticism over Barbie’s representation of beauty standards and its impact on young girls’ self-esteem. In 2016 Barbie underwent a major rebranding exercise in an effort to make the brand more inclusive and diverse. The new Barbie line included dolls of different body types, skin tones, and hairstyles, as well as new careers and interests. The new dolls also featured more realistic proportions and facial features, aimed at promoting a healthier and more positive body image which helped to emphasise Barbie’s commitment in promoting diversity and inclusivity.
The new line of Barbie dolls and the rebranding effort were well-received by consumers and were seen as a positive step forward for the brand.Mattel was able to create a more positive and inclusive brand image for Barbie and to a larger, more diverse audience.
So where does this lead us?
We started with what seemed like a simple enough question: “When is the ideal time to do a brand refresh?”
And our thoughts are this; established brands need to consider how a brand refresh could help them grow, influence and build positive associations with their brand. This could be after a merger or acquisition, when sales are declining, or when launching new products or services. Sometimes it’s about building relevance, other times it’s about attracting new customers and re-engaging existing ones. And sometimes, it’s just about changing the conversation.
In conclusion, if you are experiencing declining sales, finding it hard to attract new customers, and struggling to re-engage with your existing customers, it may be time to consider investing in brand refresh.
You don’t have to navigate this challenge alone! We help existing businesses, startup ventures, spaces and places shape bold brands worth talking about. Our focus is on helping brands communicate with more clarity to bring purpose and meaning to the forefront of the conversation.
We have developed a tried and tested 12 week Brand Delivery System to make this happen. So if you’d like to learn more, email us, phone us (+61 7 3556 5329), send us a message via LinkedIn or download our free Brand Audit Workbook.