Most clients come to me thinking they need to do what I call a re-Fresh. They don’t want to change too much if they don’t have to, and they want to reduce the risk of there being a disconnect with their loyal customers if they completely re-Brand themselves. However, just because you can still fit into the pair of zebra-print Zubaz you had when you were a senior in high school doesn’t mean you should.
Re-Freshing your brand is like putting on a new suit, getting a more up-to-date haircut, or a few modern accessories. Unfortunately, often, a re-Fresh isn’t enough. The reason is because a re-Fresh is very much like changing the color of your lipstick or buying a new tie. You look the same but you. . . well . . . freshened things up a bit. If you do a re-Fresh, your business will maintain a visual connection to the look it had before. You might keep your logo but adjust the look, add messaging and update its colors or expand the components of your design system.
A brand re-Fresh makes perfect sense if your business is humming along, but you feel you need to adjust to compete against your competition, which is moving and ever evolving as well. By making slight revisions, you can preserve your brand’s existing integrity, give it new life, maintain your existing image, and ultimately extend your customer reach.
My client and friend, Deb is a chef and owns SAVOR Culinary Services. She came to me with a very successful business, but she was growing by leaps and bounds. With every new stage of growth, she was putting new messaging in play, but instead of separating them out, her logo began growing “layers”—to the point where it was difficult to for the eye to determine where to focus. Was it a culinary service, a mentorship program, or a company providing food with purpose?
When she came to me, we decided not to tinker too much with what was working well: her brand recognition. In light of that, we stripped out the “extra” noise from her logo and focused on her core business of culinary services. The rest of what she does shows up throughout her website, collateral material, and conversations—where it doesn’t get in the way of her brand connecting with potential new clients.
Part of the brand re-Fresh process with my friend Paula, who owns Hotelements, a boutique interior design firm was to review where she was with her brand and where she wanted it to go. She had primarily been focused on the end user (the consumer), but she felt she could really make a difference if she could help hoteliers, as well. In doing so, she needed to speak to both groups with one voice—a task which is not always easy when groups’ intentions are different. (A hotelier wants to create an experience in their hotels to increase guest attendance. An end user wants to bring that experience home and live it every day.)
With my help, together we deduced a re-Fresh was as far as we needed to take Paula’s brand identity. We re-Freshed Hotelements mark and converted it to black and white versus full color to neutralize its visual impression while having it feel like the premier brand in the space. It was a clean, fresh home run.
A brand re-Fresh is simply a gentle update that gives your brand a slightly different look and feel, similar to painting a house or changing out it’s flooring. A re-Fresh will take time and cost you some money, but it’s simply about changing the surface level image of your brand while retaining its original core elements.
Take an assessment of your brand. Do you feel it needs a little work? If so, consider registering for brand school. It’s a great way to analyze your brand and tweak in real-time.