A new logo is NOT a rebrand – probably.

24 September 2015
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As a creative marketing agency we do a lot of work with clients around branding and visual identity. In most cases it’s the time we invest at the early stages of a project that proves the most valuable and certainly the most insightful: we need to establish exactly what our client really needs. Is it time for a rebrand? Or is it a refresh? And does everyone in the project understand and agree what the expected outcomes will be?

Rebrand or Refresh?

The primary objective of a rebrand is to get new customers. Customers who are different from those you already attract. In other words, you need to ‘be’ somebody else. You need to change your promise to the world and as a result you will change people’s perceptions about you.

To use a building analogy: you are going to demolish the house and build a new one from the ground up. A new architect, a whole new plan and a final result that is barely recognisable from what was there before – other than there was previously a dwelling on the same plot.

In reality, rebranding rarely happens overnight. It’s often an evolutionary process and one day you realise that you’re not the company you were and make this official by changing the way you look –  your logo, your visual identity, your marketing. We’d probably refer to this as a visual identity update. It’s your wardrobe catching up with the new you!

A refresh does not fundamentally change your brand. But it does give it a new look and feel. Ideal for brands that are secure and widely recognised by their target market looking to capitalise on market changes, new technologies – moving with the times. Even Google does it!  And so have the University of Leicester this week.


Old log vs New logo


Refreshing your brand is like renovating a house: it’s still fundamentally the same house but is updated, modernised, made more fit for purpose.

At the end of the day, people are still going to recognise the house, but there will be features that are improved, altered and updated. Your promise to your customers (your DNA) has not changed but the external changes – which can be pretty subtle or fairly extreme – certainly give people something to talk about and your marketing teams a great opportunity to reignite campaigns and build greater awareness.

At SERIOUS we do a lot of brand refreshing. As the Google article above demonstrates, a great deal of thought and planning goes into any change, no matter how subtle. And it can take a considerable amount of time if the underlying due diligence and research is to be thoroughly conducted.

This week, the University of Leicester launched their new logo – it’s part of a brand perception project and the culmination of nearly 18 months work together involving workshops, focus groups and one to one interviews with a wide range of people connected to the University. A new logo divides opinion at the best of times; it’s a natural reaction to change, with audiences becoming more accepting over time. The new University of Leicester logo has received mixed reviews on launch, with current and potential students welcoming the more modern, digital feel while some alumni, naturally rooted in their pasts, are mourning the loss of some of the more traditional elements. Whichever camp you are in, it’s important to understand what the objectives were in refreshing their logo. The University of Leicester had two main aims: a logo that would reproduce well in both large and very small formats, and a logo that would work well digitally, notably on social media. The logo we have created meets these objectives. It takes courage to move forward and creating logos fit for the digital age may look simple, but it isn’t easy.

In short, your brand is the perception your target customer has of your company or organisation. It lives in their hearts and minds. Rebranding is the act of altering that perception.

Refreshing is the act of generating new energy in the existing perception.

Next time you think you are after a ‘rebrand’, take a breath and consider what you are really after. While the ensuing actions and even the final outputs may appear to be similar, it’s really important to know and understand what you’re trying to achieve with your customers.  This will help you understand how brave you need to be. You might be surprised!

If you’d like to discuss refreshing your brand, do get in touch. We would be delighted to talk to you.

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