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Rebranding isn't always visual. And while your strategy has a huge impact on your visuals, changing your brand strategy doesn't always mean changing your visuals. So, before you go and start thinking about getting a new logo, new colours, new fonts... I want you to think about what is the main reason you are looking to do a rebrand and if it's actually a rebrand you're doing.

In this article, I am going to be talking about three different types of rebrands, why they are done, and what they consist of. This includes a full rebrand, a facelift, and a brand update. At the end of the day, though, you can call it whatever you want to call it, and do whatever changes you want to your brand, as long as there is a reason behind them.

Here are some of the main issues to start thinking about rebranding...

  1. You never built a brand to begin with when you started your business and are finding people referring to you and your services differently from how you want to be seen.

  2. You created your brand based on common trends within your industry, market, or even world events and those are no longer relevant or make you look out-of-date.

  3. Your brand isn't differentiated within your industry or community, meaning that your audience can't tell the difference between your brand and your competitors.

  4. Your brand is no longer relevant for your target audience or can't keep up with them, which leads to them choosing other brands to solve their problems over you.

But, before we get into those, I want to give you a quick reminder! Your brand consists of two main aspects - your strategy and your visuals. Your strategy includes your brand's positioning, core, and essence and your visuals include all the pretty things like your logo, colours, and fonts. Both of these sections include a lot of information and your visuals are heavily dependent on your strategy. Having said there, here are the three types of rebrands I want you to think about, the main issues that may lead to that type of rebrand, and what is included in it.

Firstly, let's talk about a full rebrand.

I wrote an article previously about this called Rebranding. The what, when, and how. In that article I talk about rebranding itself in more detail, so you can check it out for more information on rebranding itself but the main thing I want you to think here is that a rebrand is changing both your brand's strategy and its visual appearance.

This is most often done as a market strategy to get new attention. Although it is less discussed, the main reason for a rebrand is to fix something that isn't working and is affecting everything. I've talked multiple times about how a brand strategy is the foundation for your brand. Well, if that foundation is broken, then everything will change when you go to fix it.

Here are the two most common reasons for people to do a rebrand...

  1. They never built a brand to begin with.

  2. They built a brand based on their personal preferences.

When it comes to the first issue, I want to point out that even if you've never built a brand, the moment you become visible to your audience, one is being built for you. Remember the famous quote "a brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room"? Well, if you didn't try to influence that it doesn't mean that nobody is talking about you.

With every post you create on social media, every response you make visible to people, every client interaction... you are building a brand. And without having a solid foundation, you are not in control of that build. So, the solution here would be easy... build your brand before you get into business. But if you're already in business, then this leads to a rebrand with creating your foundation and doing the research behind your visuals.

Regarding the second issue here, the first thing I'd like to say is that I am talking about audience-based brands here. If you want more information on The different types of brands there are, check out my article that talks about each of these in detail. Basically, this is an issue for non-personal brands.

This issue arises when you build a brand completely based on your personal preferences without looking at what your audience or market is interested in. I am not saying this is wrong! I am saying this is wrong for non-personal brands. If you're building a personal brand, this is a non-issue. For other types of brands though, this means you are building something that attracts you and not the people who will make you money.

The solution here would be a full rebrand. Because that means building a strong foundation based on the type of brand you want to have (such as figuring out as much information about your target audience first so you can build an audience-based brand) and then translating all of that strategy into visuals that are specifically meant to attract your audience.

Now, let's talk about a facelift.

This is when you are changing your brand's visual identity or how it is seen by your audience, without making any changes on a deeper level within your strategy. This is done when your strategy is working, but your visuals aren't. This is also very commonly done for marketing campaigns and specific launches, so it is not always permanent or maybe it is limited to only a specific time frame or service that you offer.

Facelifts would usually be considered the easiest type of rebrand because you only change what's visible on the surface without digging deep. This, however, is false. Any visual changes that you make are dependant on your strategy, so even if you decide to change your entire palette, what you change it to should still reflect what your brand is on the inside and the foundation you have created.

Yes, your strategy is done so it feels like less work, but now you have to try and translate your strategy into a new visual identity that is different enough from your current one to make an impact but still reflect on your foundation. Doesn't sound that easy anymore, right?

The most common reason for doing a facelift is because the design is outdated. Maybe when the original identity was created you followed a trend or were limited based on the styles and technologies available, but this led to something that when people look at it now, they can tell it's old. And not necessarily in a good way (there are some brands that look old and that is the point).

The easiest fix for this would be to avoid trends to begin with however that's not always actually easy. Sometimes, we don't realize we're following a trend until somebody points it out or you notice everybody else doing something similar. And sometimes, the purpose of a brand facelift is to actually change over to a new trend!

Remember, the most important thing about your brand's visuals is that they are meant to represent your brand as a whole and all of your strategy work behind the brand. So, make sure your changes reflect your brand when you make them.

And lastly, we have the brand update.

Again, these names are only here to differentiate the three different types but if a rebrand is changing both your strategy and visuals and a facelift is changing only your visuals, then the brand update is changing only your strategy. In the exact same way how you can have multiple visuals to represent the same strategy (as described in the facelift section above), you can have the same visuals represent multiple strategies.

What this means is that, at the end of the day, any visuals that are created are based on context, social constructs, subconscious connections, and more. Here is an example to explain what I mean by this. I want you to consider for a moment and before reading the list below, think of one word that you associate with the colour red. It can be anything, an object, an emotion, a location, a person. The first thing that pops into your head. Once you have that, I want you to think about what that one word can represent. Is it passion? Lust? Romance? Love? Is it anger? War? Fury? Death? Blood? Maybe it's weddings? New beginnings? Growth? Believe it or not, red can represent every single one of those words and more. The word you chose at the beginning probably limits this a lot.

Now consider your audience. If your brand has red in it, that's not what's telling your audience that your brand is for passionate, chocolate-loving, women. Your strategy tells them that. Or maybe, you are using that exact same red and you are telling your brand is for independent women who know their worth and love to stand out. Or maybe it's for daredevils that want to challenge the status quo. Or maybe, or maybe, or maybe...

The example maybe got a bit out of hand, but you get what I'm saying. Your visuals can remain the exact same as they were yesterday or even ten years ago, but the meaning behind them can change. You can even go so far so to adjust your strategy based on your visuals (if you're noticing that your visuals are working better on attracting your target audience than your strategy is).

Now, one of the common issues for looking to do a brand update without changing your visuals is that your brand isn't differentiated within your industry or community, meaning that your audience can't tell the difference between your brand and your competitors. This, again, is not referring to your visuals.

I want you to take the following statements and let me know if they apply to you...

  1. I strive to offer the best services for each of my clients.

  2. I treated my clients as individuals and focus on them one-on-one.

  3. I love what I do and am passionate about providing the best services.

Do these apply to you? Cuz they do to me. And every single one of the clients I've had that I've worked with. All of us have a different visual appearance but if all of us say this, then none of us are ever going to get clients. Because none of this makes us different on the inside. Do you get what I'm saying here? The idea here is to look at what makes you different and make it work for you.

And I also want to mention one other point here.

There is such a thing as a brand evolution or brand growth, again, the names are meaningless. What I want you to focus on when I am talking about these is that you are looking to expand your brand. A brand evolution doesn't mean rebranding or changing your strategy or changing your visuals. This means changing enough of your brand to keep up with something else, whether that is the market, your industry, or your audience. The point is to make sure you are always relevant.

The most common reason for looking to evolve or grow your brand is that your brand is no longer relevant. This can be due to the changing market, styles, trends, or basically anything else. Your brand is a reflection of you with a place in the world. But the world is always changing and so are the people in it. So, if you want to be relevant you may want to update your brand to keep up with the people who are going to use it.

I want to use my favourite example here to show you what I mean by brand evolution. Imagine you created a brand meant for high school girls. Five years from now, are you going to be targeting those same high school girls who are now in college, or the ones who decided to skip college and go right into work, or the ones who started their families early... or the new high school girls?

Whichever one is your answer, all of these are completely different audiences from who you started with and your brand has to evolve in order to be able to connect with them and still remain relevant as an option for them to choose.

Now... one last note here to keep in mind. Sometimes, a brand's evolution or growth can appear to be going backwards. This means you may end up returning your brand to a previous appearance or using old language that you had abandoned, or something else. Mainly, it means going back to a previous version. This is not de-volution or the opposite of growth. Going back to a previous version of your brand isn't a mistake to hide behind or something to avoid.

If something worked in the past that is not working now, then going back to that option may be the solution to solve all your problems. This means your brand is adapting to fix the solution, and there is no moving backwards, only forward, because now you have information about what didn't work and can include it into your plans and strategy for what did, to make sure everything works better.

So, when is it time for a rebrand?

  • If your message isn't getting across to your audience.

  • If your audience has no idea who you are and what you do.

  • If your brand doesn't tell your audience about your beliefs.

  • If your purpose, vision, or mission is not visible right away.

  • If there is no culture behind your brand or the people working on it.

  • If you've made a recent shift in your brand's business model.

  • If your brand's values, goals, or audience has changed.

  • If you're trying to target a new audience or reach new people.

  • If your audience can't tell your brand apart from others.

  • If your brand looks the exact same as somebody else's.

  • If your brand is outdated (looks or beliefs, either one).

  • If your brand personality can't connect with your audience.

  • If you've decided to pivot in a completely new direction.

  • If it's not working.

So, let me know... are you interested in doing a rebrand?


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