Opinion

Do you need an entire rebrand or just a quick freshen up?

Branding is the bread and butter of your organisation. It’s your identity. It sets you aside from other businesses, defines who you are, and represents your promise to the customer.

Building a brand is hard work, but maintaining it can be even harder. If you feel like you’ve lost touch with your customers and are struggling to stay relevant, you may consider a rebrand.

However, before taking the plunge, ask yourself: is an entire rebrand necessary, or will a spruce up suffice? While they sound similar, a rebrand and a brand refresh are fundamentally different

Think of a refresh as a new coat of paint – this could be a new logo, colour palette, website, or tagline, while your core identity and strategy remain the same. 

A brand refresh can inject new energy into a business and make you stand out against your competitors. It may be time to consider refreshing your brand if your current look and feel are outdated or if there are inconsistencies with your branding. It can also be a way to keep on top of market trends or tap into a new market. 

One iconic Aussie brand that is no stranger to a revamp is Qantas. The popular airliner has refreshed its look five times since it was founded in 1920.

The most recent rebrand in 2016 coincided with the announcement of a new aircraft: the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The prominent flying kangaroo logo revealed its latest redesign alongside a new corporate typeface.

At the time, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said: “When we looked at the history, we found that the logo has always been updated around the time of a game-changing new aircraft joining the fleet. It’s a tradition that goes back to the Lockheed Constellation in 1947, the B747-300 in 1984 and the A380 in 2007.”

In light of the myriad of challenges Qantas has encountered in recent times, it is fair to say that the company is once again undergoing a rebranding – both figuratively and literally.

The latest started only in April when CEO Vanessa Hudson made her first major PR play by announcing “one of the biggest expansions” to the company’s Frequent Flyer program in its 35-year history – a move that had a divisive reaction by PR experts.

 

On the other hand, a rebrand goes beyond an aesthetic shakeup. If a refresh is a fresh lick of paint, a rebrand is a home renovation. 

Rebrands are about realigning the company’s identity. It’s a complete overhaul of your mission, values, target audience, and vision. Rebranding is an extensive project that shouldn’t be taken lightly – it requires a well-calculated strategy and significant time and resources.

A rebrand may be necessary following a shift in company values or restructuring – for example, after a merger or acquisition with another company or an international expansion. 

In some circumstances, a rebrand can help to overcome a bad reputation, a lack of brand clarity or consistency, or to target a new or specific type of audience. Companies that undergo a significant change to their products or services may also opt for a rebrand.  

However, do your due diligence before taking such a huge leap. Ensure you have the time and money to invest, and research what your competition does. Focus on your alignment with your brand’s vision, mission, and values, and consider the visual elements afterwards.

Also, consider timing. The Bureau of Meteorology found itself in hot water when it announced its rebrand during a major flood crisis.

The organisation, affectionately known as BoM, requested it no longer be referred to by its acronym but soon backtracked after disapproval from both the public and the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek.

My focus and the focus of the BoM should be on weather, not branding,” Plibersek tweeted amidst the drama in October 2022.

Other proposed changes to the government agency included a new Twitter handle: @TheBureau_NSW. However, despite the announcement the accounts were not secured, and were soon snapped up. The failed rebrand cost the taxpayer more than $220,000, according to The Guardian.

If you are deciding between rebranding or refreshing, think about where your company is headed and the current state of your brand. If your philosophy and direction remain the same, then a rebrand may not be necessary. With a little TLC, you can remain relevant in your field, retain customers and expand into new markets. Many businesses undergo a refresh at some point. Your customers are always evolving, so why wouldn’t you?  

Only consider a rebrand if you have undergone significant change and your goals, visions, and mission are no longer what they used to be. Whichever path you choose, consider how your customer, reputation and operations will be by affected by this change – and consider seeking professional help in making your decision. 

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