Tell-tale signs it’s time for a brand refresh

1 minute read

Leads in short supply, unengaged audiences and lack of awareness – these are the symptoms. But what indicates a stale brand is causing them?

Like food, brands are most appealing when they’re kept fresh. That can be achieved by tweaking logos, colour palettes, fonts, straplines and writing style (or tone of voice) and does much more than merely keep your company on-trend.

Why? A refresh can strengthen customer connections, sharpen competitive edge, spread awareness of important changes, and ultimately, improve bottom lines.

But timing is key. Changing things up too much too often can muddle brand identity. Then again, keeping everything the same for years on end will age it. Badly. So how to know when the time is right? Read on for a look at the tell-tale signs.

Refresh or rebrand?

Just quickly, let’s clear up a spot of potential confusion. A refresh involves making changes to how your brand expresses itself. New look, new sound, same personality, if you like. A rebrand alters a company’s whole identity. Its ethos, values, aesthetics. Everything.

There’s a big difference. The tell-tale signs revealed in this article suggest your brand needs refreshing only.

You might also have heard of brand repositioning? That makes a company stand out from competitors targeting similar audiences, and may or may not include a brand refresh.

business branding


Your brand falls short

Does your brand communicate your company’s identity, offerings and what makes it unique? Consistently? And well? If not, it’s time for a refresh. Tell-tale signs include brand guidelines that are:


A big part of what makes a brand recognisable is consistency. Picture the zippy motivation of Nike. It’s instantly recognisable in the company’s style and across all its output.

If your brand has, say, multiple logos with different looks, a rainbow colour pallet, or a voice that flicks between the tone of a teenager and an octogenarian, chances are it’s not going to have the desired effect.


So, you’ve got a logo and… not much else? Whatever type of marketing you’re creating – a social media campaign, a new website, product packaging – your brand guidelines should indicate what it will look like and how it will sound. Brands without comprehensive brand guidelines have blurry edges.


Your brand should stand out. The only way it can do that is by communicating what sets your company apart and does better than the rest. So if its brand guidelines detail a look, sound and feel that could apply to any of your competitors, you can safely bet it’s lost in the crowd.


Underpinning every aspect of your branding should be a set of values that distil your company’s personality down to its purest elements. Your brand must clearly communicate those values. Otherwise, it will say something different to what your company is about. And dissonance is bad for business.

Your brand is behind the times

It’s simple. If you haven’t treated your brand to a refresh for a while, the time is neigh or fast approaching.

Remember when web design was littered with drop shadows, gloss overlays and random gifs? They were all the rage in the not-so-distant past. Today, they’re an all but extinct historical curiosity. Times move on, and stylistic tastes with them. Your brand needs to keep up.

Here’s a basic litmus test: when you look at your branding, does it make you think of the here and now or a time gone by?

brand refresh

New offerings and audiences

The two are inseparable – your company’s identity is tied up in what it offers. So if your company decides to change one of its core products or services, that change will knock like a domino into the underlying value it offers. If momentum carries through into customer benefit, your branding is going to want a refresh.

Likewise, aiming to engage a new audience in addition to those you already target will likely call for a brand refresh.

Change has accumulated

Just as everything does, companies evolve as time goes by. Even subtle changes add up incrementally, and if your brand doesn’t keep up with them, one day you might be shocked to discover it’s totally lost touch with the company it’s supposed to represent.

An influx of new staff, new departments, a new website, moving office – these changes might seem superficial, but when they take place, it’s a good idea to look at your branding and ask if it needs to be tweaked to reflect them. After all, they will have at least some influence on company culture.

Even those brands that could fool you into thinking they have been around since time began – Ford, Heinz, the BBC – have all been refreshed, time and again. And they’ve all done a great job of it. The proof is in the pudding.

brand refresh

Something’s missing

Perhaps your brand isn’t showing any of these tell-tale signs. On paper at least, it should be doing its job well. Nevertheless, your company is showing the symptoms that a brand refresh is in order. That might suggest its brand is a bit cold. Overly rational. Lacking verve.

In this situation, you should consider a refresh simply to add a dose of jai ne se quoi. Do, and you’ll probably be surprised by the way your brand suddenly bursts into life.

Where to start

The way to begin a refresh is with a brand audit. And the best people to do one for you are experts like us.

Let’s talk.