Brand Refresh vs Rebrand: What’s the right move when evolving your business?

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Feeling like your business needs a bit of a visual revamp? Or maybe you’ve recently made some changes to your product or service offering and want to make sure your branding reflects this new direction? 

Evolving your brand alongside your business is vital for long-term success. But how do you decide whether to go for a full rebrand or opt for a subtler brand refresh? It’s more complex than a simple tweak of a logo, or changing up your aesthetic on Instagram. This is a strategic decision you need to make based on your business goals, the expectations of your target market and industry, and your existing brand strategy. 

We share the key differences between a rebrand and a brand refresh, how to know which is right for you, and even give you a cheeky insight into how we rolled out our own recent brand refresh!

At Five by Five, we’re all about helping you share your magic through great looking, high performing websites. Whether you’re a new business in need of a wow-worthy digital launch, or an established business looking to refresh and replace your old site, we have the know-how and dedication to make it happen. Contact us today to get started.

Business vs brand vs branding

First things first, understanding the difference between a business, a brand, and branding. Because YES, they are all distinct from one another! 

Your business is the exchange of goods or services for payment – it’s what your customers buy from you and how you deliver this to them. For example, at Five by Five, we deliver website design and development, search engine optimisation and paid ads services.

Your brand is the image or perception people have of your business – it’s why your customers make the decision to buy from you. This goes deeper than just products, services, features and benefits. Your brand represents the emotions and expectations consumers have when they think of your business, and how this differentiates you from your competitors in their minds. For Five by Five, we’re your go-to digital partner who helps you share your magic online – the trusted expert you turn to for help with scaling your business into an industry-leader. 

Your brand strategy is the detailed roadmap you follow as a business to create your brand over time. It outlines who you are, why you exist, how you differ from your competitors, who your customers are, and ultimately how you communicate this to the world. 

Branding, then, is the process of creating and sharing that unique image you want potential customers to have in mind when they think of your business. Typically, this refers to the crafting of your brand’s visual identity, or appearance, which includes your logo, colour palette, font choice and typography, image style, graphics and brand icons, etc. It’s how you show up in the world so that you resonate with your target audience. 

A well-crafted visual identity helps to:

  • Make your brand easily recognisable
  • Appear more professional and reliable
  • Convey your brand’s values and promises without words
  • Distinguish your brand from its competitors
  • Enhance consumer recall and recognition (which directly influences purchase decisions!)
Business vs brand vs branding

What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?

So, now that we understand the difference between each of these concepts, let’s look at how this translates into deciding between a rebrand and a brand refresh.

What is a rebrand?

A rebrand is a tactical and complete overhaul of your brand strategy and branding – changing existing brand elements to essentially create a new identity for your business in the minds of consumers, stakeholders, and the wider market. 

This can involve updating (or completely changing!) your business’s:  

  • Visual identity (appearance)
  • Messaging (what you communicate)
  • Brand voice (how you communicate)
  • Brand personality (the qualities or characteristics your brand embodies to connect with its customers – fun vs. serious, youthful vs. sophisticated, friendly vs. professional, etc.)
  • Core mission and values (why you exist as a business)

The goal of a rebrand is to better align the image of a business with its current objectives, market position, and target audience.

What is a brand refresh?

A brand refresh, on the other hand, is a more subtle adjustment to update and refine a company’s existing branding. Think of this as giving your business a facelift. You keep the core elements that your audience recognises, but you enhance them to stay relevant and engaging.

Refreshing your brand might include updating your logo to be more modern, choosing new (or additional) brand colours that reflect current trends while still holding on to your original vibe, or crafting new marketing materials that reflect a more contemporary voice. It’s perfect for brands that have a strong market presence and want to maintain their relevance without losing their established identity.

Rebrand Vs Brand Refresh Graphic

Why do businesses rebrand?

An organisation might decide to rebrand for a variety of reasons, but the overarching purpose is to remain competitive and aligned with an evolving business strategy, market conditions, and consumer expectations. Here are some of the key factors that might prompt a rebrand.

Market positioning: A business may rebrand to target a new audience or to better compete in its market. This could involve changing the brand to appeal to a different demographic or geographic segment.

Corporate restructuring:  Following mergers, acquisitions, or other major corporate shifts, a rebrand might be necessary to reflect changes in ownership, philosophy, or company direction.

Changing industry dynamics: As industries evolve, a company might find its current brand outdated or irrelevant. A rebrand can help the company stay competitive and relevant.

Reputation management: If a brand has been tarnished by negative publicity, a rebrand might be necessary to shed negative associations and create a clean(er) slate.

Innovation and growth: Companies at the forefront of innovation might rebrand to highlight their role as leaders in new technologies or services, aligning their brand with the future rather than the past.

Facebook’s rebrand into Meta

To illustrate why a company might undertake such a significant change, let’s consider the example of Facebook’s rebrand to Meta in October 2021. This wasn’t just a name change – it marked a strategic pivot at the heart of the company’s mission and vision for the future.

Strategic shift

Originally known for its social media platform, Facebook rebranded to Meta to reflect its shifting focus towards building the metaverse — a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. This rebrand represents a transformation from a social media company into a tech conglomerate with a broader, more ambitious scope.

Visual and identity renewal

Along with its new name, Meta introduced a new visual identity and logo. This new identity was designed to signify openness and infinite possibilities, aligning with the expansive and immersive nature of the metaverse. The rebrand wasn’t just cosmetic but a signal to the world that the company was entering a new era with a focus on innovation and virtual reality technologies.

Market positioning and consumer perception

With this rebrand, Meta aimed to position itself as a leader in an emerging industry. It was a move to stay ahead of technological trends and consumer demands for more immersive, interactive digital experiences. By rebranding, Meta aimed to dissociate from past constraints (and controversies) and reposition itself as a forward-thinking, innovative company.

By adopting a new brand identity aligned with future ambitions, Meta demonstrated a commitment to leading rather than following market trends or resting on its laurels (so to speak!). For businesses contemplating a rebrand, Meta’s example underscores the necessity of:

  • Visionary leadership: Recognising when market dynamics and consumer behaviours require a pivotal change in business strategy.
  • Bold execution: Implementing a rebrand that fully embodies the new direction without hesitation.
  • Clear communication: Ensuring that the rebrand is understood and embraced both internally and externally, aligning all stakeholders with the new brand vision.

When should you opt for a brand refresh?

Businesses undertake a brand refresh to modernise and enhance their current branding without making the deep foundational changes typically associated with a full rebrand. This subtler form of brand evolution is often driven by the need to update outdated visuals, realign the brand messaging to keep pace with gradual shifts in market dynamics or consumer preferences, or inject new life into the brand to boost engagement and revitalise its appeal. 

Refreshing a brand allows companies to stay connected with their audience by evolving with them, subtly signalling that the brand is attentive to current trends and customer needs without straying from the core identity that customers trust and expect.

What is an example of brand refresh strategy?

Oh, we’re so glad you asked. You may have noticed a few changes to our socials, email newsletters, webinar slides… 

New colours, perhaps? A bolder, more vibrant look for our marketing collateral? Yep, we’ve been soft-launching our own brand refresh, so let’s unpack the how and then get into the why!

5X5 Brand Refresh Example 2

Five by Five’s brand refresh journey

As an award-winning web design and digital marketing agency known for our industry leadership and excellence, we understand the importance of crafting a visual identity that not only stands out, but truly captures the essence of our brand. That’s why we’ve introduced a fresh new look to our direct marketing channels, while maintaining the core elements that our clients and community have come to like and trust.

New visual elements

Over the last few weeks, we’ve softly launched several updates to our branding:

  • Introduction of new secondary brand colours — we kept our iconic blues and added in pink, orange, and purple for accents and highlights across our more conversational marketing channels
  • New style of graphics and visual content tailored to engage our community across social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, and webinar sessions
  • Expansion of our font family application to include ALL CAPS heading class options for greater impact

These updates have created a fresh, dynamic aesthetic for our digital communication and reflects the fun, bold and confident personality embodied by the Five by Five brand.

5X5 Brand Refresh Example

Evolving our logo

Next on our agenda is the rollout of a new logo and its variations. Keeping the essence of our existing logo, the updated version is a little more refined and modern, designed to signify our evolution as a company and our ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence.

Why refresh our brand?

Two key reasons: we’ve seen some serious growth in the past year, AND we are currently preparing to expand our services to support you in new and improved ways! Five by Five is evolving, and we needed a fresh new look that reflects our exceptional expertise and authoritative presence in the digital marketing space, while emphasising our approachable and fun personality.

We also recognised how noisy and overcrowded the internet has become these days. Inboxes overrun, people yelling at you incessantly on social media, an endless stream of overstimulating nonsense. We’re always committed to providing bite-sized education and as much free value as we can pack into our content, so we looked at how we could differentiate ourselves from that noise and make all that free value actually enjoyable for you to access!

Five by Five is your digital partner, helping you share your magic and scale your business with effective web design and online marketing solutions.

To learn more about our brand refresh, and how to craft a strong visual identity for your business, check out our On Demand webinar session here. 

Plus, create your own visual branding guidelines with our FREE editable template available here.

About the author
Maddy Edwards
Maddy grew up with a keen interest in all things business, entrepreneurship, psychology, and travel. Completing a Bachelor's degree in Business Management/Arts at the University of Queensland, and spending a semester abroad to study in England, she chose majors in marketing, entrepreneurship and psychology to enhance her understanding of effective business and brand building. After uni, Maddy traded textbooks for palm trees, spending two blissful years teaching yoga on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. Her passion for continued growth then led her to the Gold Coast, where she has spent the last four years honing her marketing skills across health, wellness, and tourism brands. With two years of business ownership and a successful exit under her belt, Maddy deeply understands the challenges our clients face, and is excited to be able to use those insights to help other business owners succeed. Beyond the office, you'll find Maddy lost in a good book, finding her zen at a yoga class, or enjoying an afternoon beach walk while tuning into business and mindset podcasts.
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