brand identity refreshDo you long for a contemporary color palette? An updated logo or a more compelling tagline? New typography? Better photography and graphics? A different tone to the storytelling?

For many marketing professionals and business leaders the answer is “YES!” It’s not uncommon for organizations to give their brand identity a facelift, or what we at Harmony Crew call a brand identity refresh, every few years. In fact, we help numerous clients create new and fresh expressions of their brand identities, as it can make a big impact on market awareness and perception, not to mention help re-energize your staff.

But it’s important to make the distinction between “changing the wallpaper” and changing the strategy. While a brand identity refresh can put a new spin on a tried and true approach, it’s not enough if your brand promise is no longer compelling, relevant, authentic, and differentiating. If that’s the case, your organization really requires a strategic rebrand, which is about redefining your brand position and high-level corporate story in the marketplace – the foundation of your brand promise. Often times, a strategic rebrand will also incorporate a brand identity refresh – or new look and feel – but not always.

How do you know which is right for you? When clients talk to us about updating their brand, we start by helping them evaluate whether its foundation is still rock solid. For example:

Does your brand promise support your full capabilities? Have you acquired or divested product lines? Has demand for some offerings soared, while others are nearing end of life? Have you entered into new partnerships that enhance your capabilities?

Are you entering new markets…or leaving old ones? Do you need to reach new geographies or respond to changing demographics in your target audiences? Is a merger or acquisition in your future? Will macro trends in your markets impact your market strategies? Does your brand still reflect your long-term strategic direction?

Are your competitors moving in on your territory? Is your brand promise still differentiating, or have you been pushed in the “commodity zone”?

Is your singular band promise and high-level brand story all about the “what” instead of the “why”? Focusing on the why makes it more about your customers than you – usually a wise approach. Do you appeal to consumers’ emotional needs and wants, as well as their rational ones? Is your story compelling? Does it reflect your vision and mission? Do you give people a reason to like your company – not just know what your products or services do?

What do your customers – and prospective customers – care about? Is your brand promise relevant and memorable to them? Do they relate to the creative expression of your brand? Do they care about what you think they care about?

While this list just scratches the surface, evaluating larger strategic questions like these can help determine whether you need an identity refresh or a strategic rebrand initiative. And it’s worth the assessment, as an effective brand strategy and identity are critical to optimizing marketing and sales investments.