Branding isn’t just about logos or slogans.
It’s the very soul of your business—what is your vision and mission, who you serve, the why behind your business, and what exactly you do to serve. It’s the stories you tell, the emotional connections you build with your audience, and how YOUR customers and audiences remember you.
And let’s face it: our audience’s attention spans continue to decrease by the minute, thanks to quick AF technology changes and AI becoming mainstream.
Our brand identity and message have become more important than ever before because it has become harder and harder to stand out in the sea of content and social media platforms.
We’re all starting to blend together, which is why building your brand is just as important as driving demand. I’m getting asked more and more about brand development – which is exciting – and means I get to bring some clarity to your brand questions.
We’ve seen some interesting brand decisions in the media from X aka Twitter to Barbie so let’s dive into the discussion of what a brand refresh is versus a complete rebranding, so you can decide what your business may or may not need. 👇
BRAND REFRESH: IT’S LIKE SWAPPING ACCESSORIES
Think of a brand refresh as updating your look with a new haircut, necklace, and pair of killer heels.
It’s basically tweaking the elements that already exist. You’re not changing the core; you’re simply enhancing it.
Brands might lean this way to:
🟣 Keep the pace with market trends – AKA to stay relevant in changing times.
🟣 Woo a newer, younger audience, while ensuring their loyalists don’t feel ditched basically attracting a new segment without scaring off the OG fans.
🟣 Add a sprinkle of modern flair, all while maintaining that original brand charm – keeping their core essence but adding a bit of OOMPH to their brand.
Take Inc Magazine as an example where SCOTT OMELIANUK – mentioned that Inc. Magazine will now become Inc Business Media because of how the company is diversifying into different services. Here’s a recap if you missed the LIVE discussion. 👇
REBRANDING: CLEARING THE RACKS WITH A BRAND NEW COLLECTION
Think of it like you’re completely purging your closet! It’s not just a wardrobe update; it’s like morphing your style from full-on corporate glam to boho chic to best represent a NEW version of you. .
It’s like when I quit my 9-to-5 corporate career to become a full-time Branding LadyBoss at StandOut Authority ! 😉
Brands usually take this route when:
🟣 They’re shedding past baggage (aka, they’re feeling like their brand image is so last season…or maybe they’re trying to stay away from something controversial that could potentially tank their business completely.)
🟣 Two brands decide to merge (or a bigger fish decides to acquire a brand…ehem enter Elon Musk and his famous Twitter – now X – $44B takeover back in 2022)
🟣 There’s a monumental shift in what they stand for or whom they cater to
So here’s a quick summary:
A refresh is sprucing up what’s already working to expand audiences, services and modernize, while a rebrand is creating a brand-new identity!
Still undecided about which route to take? Let’s take a look at some of THE most famous brand refreshes and rebrands over the past couple of years:
REBRANDING FROM TWITTER TO THE “X”
There’s a reason why I’m mentioning this first…and it’s for obvious reasons: probably THE biggest, and honestly most controversial REBRANDS of 2023, and it came just in time when Meta released its Twitter-like app called, Threads.
I’d like to think that Twitter went through an identity crisis, and decided to change its name completely—and apparently—its life’s purpose.
This little birdie wants to now be an “everything app” – hello, banking, shopping, and more chit-chats. Because, why not?
Remember X.com from 1999? No? Well, Elon Musk does. It was his ambitious dream before it cozied up with another company and turned into our dear PayPal. Mr. Musk, ever the dreamer, is looking to give the X dream a reboot, with Twitter as his knight in shining armor.
Twitter wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill app. Launched in 2006, this little bluebird was where news went viral and where you vented when Instagram had its regular breakdowns (#InstagramDown, remember?). But, with all these changes, the app isn’t what it used to be. Big advertisers and influencers are making their exit, and fresh rivals are marching in.
It’s one thing to rebrand an app, but when you’re trying to rebrand a language? That’s a pickle. Forget posts; we had tweets. No one was posting; everyone was tweeting. And sharing? Nah, it was retweeting. Musk’s plan to rename everything to “x’s” doesn’t seem well thought and nobody is into it.
Imma dish my personal take on this Rebrand:
Twitter built a loyal and strong brand for 15+ years. While the platform struggled and needed a refresh, a complete overhaul without talking to advertisers or its loyal fan base seems ignorant and misinformed.
The new X vision promises a universe of features, but it’s drifting away from what made us sign up in the first place. We’re all incredibly confused. There was no brand story or roll out plan for this rebrand and it seems like it’s all for Elon, not for his customers. I’m not saying Elon doesn’t know what he’s doing or that what he’s building may be genius, but from a branding perspective and building customer advocacy…NOT a good move.
MICROSOFT’S BRAND REFRESH
While the changes were much more subtle than Twitter’s X evolution, they still carried weight.
In 2012, after 25 years in business, they decided it was high time for a fresh coat of paint and updated the Microsoft logo, visual identity and brand values. They were releasing many new products that needed to feel modern and part of one branded house (think Windows 8, Xbox services, and the next-gen Office), so they didn’t just upgrade systems; they signaled a whole new Microsoft era.
The visual identity was just the start of Microsoft’s brand refresh. It flourished when Satya Nadella became CEO and crafted a new ethos for the company. In fact he wrote a book called Hit Refresh to explain the massive transformation the company was undergoing and bring not only the employees but world along with his vision.
In Harvard Business Review’s article “How Microsoft Became Innovative Again’, you can see that a brand refresh is more than updating a logo. For Microsoft, it was about innovating and modernizing an old company, attracting new audiences, and creating new market opportunities.
“Having long accomplished its goal of “a PC on every
desk and in every home, running Microsoft software,”
the company needed a new goal to attract
and inspire its many coders and engineers, and sustain its profitability.
With his colleagues, he reoriented the company to
“empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
BARBIE’S BRAND REFRESH AND EVOLUTION
Remember when ‘Barbie’ was our childhood icon? Then, around 2014, she became kinda… passé. Even the boss man at Mattel, Richard Dickson , admitted in a chat that “Barbie wasn’t reflecting our diverse world anymore”. Cue: crisis!
Well, a brand refresh definitely saved the day.
Fast-forward to the glitzy Barbie movie promos with A-listers Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. And the ‘Barbiecore’ trend? Hot pink’s everywhere! (Literally; they caused a global shortage of the color for the movie.)
Here’s the scoop: Mattel didn’t just slap on some sequins and call it a day. They revisited why Barbie existed: to inspire limitless potential in girls. Next, they jazzed up doll designs for inclusivity (shoutout to the first-ever Barbie with Down’s syndrome). They tuned into what’s trending, and made sure all their grand plans actually hit the shelves.
Thanks to this playbook, Barbie’s not just back – she’s on top! Mattel recorded their highest biz numbers in 2021. 🎉
Mattel’s not stopping at Barbie’s Hollywood debut. They’re diving deep into the world of content creation with 13 other brands. Think movies, TV shows, live experiences, and gaming. The goal? Make their toys more relevant, sell more, and leave a lasting mark across various categories.
So, gear up! If Barbie’s comeback is any sign, Mattel’s about to sprinkle some serious magic in the entertainment world. 🌟
META’S REBRAND FROM SOCIAL MEDIA TO METAVERSE
Remember when, back in 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced a major rebranding move for Facebook, renaming the holding company to Meta?
This decision came at a time when the social media titan faced a slew of public relations challenges. 🤯
Unveiled at Facebook’s annual AR/VR conference, ambitious plans were laid out to establish a “metaverse”—a virtual and augmented reality overlay of our real world. He envisioned this metaverse as the next phase in digital interaction, aiming to supersede the mobile internet and offer a more immersive way for people worldwide to connect.
Under the new “Meta” brand, the company encompassed its core platform, Facebook, along with subsidiaries like Instagram, WhatsApp, and the virtual reality brand, Oculus.
This type of rebranding isn’t unprecedented in the tech world…
BUT — critics argued that Facebook’s shift might have been a tactic to divert attention from its PR Crises in the past. The impacts of Facebook’s platforms have long been a hot topic in almost every industry… so we couldn’t blame Mark for wanting a complete overhaul of his billion-dollar company BUT it hasn’t landed well. His Metaverse endeavors aren’t panning out so far and their main revenue stream is still advertising from Facebook and Instagram.
This is another case like Twitter where a full rebrand may have been too early or completely off the mark. Customers were confused when it happened and still aren’t bought in…so why did they do it? Guess we’ll see what happens!
4 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE DECIDING IF YOU’D LIKE A BRAND REFRESH OR A COMPLETE REBRAND
🟣 Budget: Can your company’s treasure chest handle it? A refresh might be more budget-friendly compared to a rebrand.
🟣 Brand Equity: Recognize the value of your current brand. Will changes alienate your OG customers? Or attract a wider audience? How will your bottom line be affected if you alienate customers and what’s worth it?
🟣 Research: Know your market, competitors, and where you stand before making any changes whatsoever. Conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis is critical for big changes and please go to experts. This isn’t the decision of the leadership teams – the market and your audience and customers should be guiding your decisions to keep this objective.
🟣 Risks & Rewards: Sometimes, the risk is worth the reward. But, always know what you’re diving into. Consider the long-term effects on your revenue and what would resonate the most with your target audience (remember, it’s about THEM, not you).
SO, WHAT’S THE VERDICT?
You need to be thinking about your brand right now. Period. Lots of changes are happening and the market is moving fast. I’m not saying you need a brand refresh or rebrand right now, but do think about your place in the market and how you’ll maintain your differentiation.
If you do believe you need a brand refresh or rebrand – BE SMART. Go to experts. Do the research.
The whole point of this is to ensure your brand effectively communicates its purpose, values, and resonates with its audience for long term success and value.
Have you ever thought about doing a brand refresh or completely rebranding your business? What’s stopping you from doing either?
💭 LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS
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