Understand the rebrand spectrum & update your identity with confidence

Article Chris Erickson 5m read

You know how much your brand identity and reputation impact your success. Perhaps it has lost a bit of its shine, or you’ve noticed a misalignment between the state of your identity and your current/future business. Maybe your competitors’ brands are progressing faster than you are, and you feel pressure to keep pace. 

Whatever the reason, you know it’s time for a change—but how deep do the changes need to be? Is it a basic refresh? A more extensive rebrand? Or a complete overhaul?

Take a beat if you’re overwhelmed or unsure how to approach your brand’s identity update. It can feel complicated. But, once you finish this article, you’ll understand the three approaches we take to rebranding and which is the best fit for you.

Reasons for a brand update can vary, but most are valid.

Your reading this suggests you already suspect you need to do something for your brand. We work with companies who arrive at this point for various reasons, most of which justify a little brand TLC.

Good reasons for a rebrand

  • Misalignment between what your brand communicates and what your business is (or what it is becoming). 

  • Poor fit and finish. General lack of quality.

  • Difficulty executing it broadly or consistently.

  • You’re going through a big transition.

  • Things are more complicated than they used to be (e.g. more product lines, territorial expansion)

Three checkpoints on the rebranding continuum.

Whatever the trigger, engaging in some level of brand therapy is an important part of transformation. That said, organizations mean very different things when discussing their need for a "rebrand." Some simply want a new logo. Others are in the process of changing their entire business, and they want the changes to be reflected across every jot and tittle. The term "rebrand" is so loose that it's almost not helpful, so we've defined three approaches that capture the needs of most of the folks we work with: refresh, reframe, and reset. Let’s take a closer look at what these levels entail and which might be best for you.

  1. Brand refresh: fine-tune, create consistency, and instill quality.

    1. A refresh is the most subtle and least intrusive level on the rebranding spectrum. Think of it as adding polish to your existing brand elements while remaining aligned with its core concept.

    2. This level of change may not be noticeable to the casual observer, but it will provide a lift to your brand’s overall quality and consistency. 

    3. Some key characteristics of a refresh include:

      • Updating and standardizing existing brand assets, such as color, typography, and logo tweaks while maintaining the overall look and feel.

      • Developing consistency and effectiveness in communication across your organization as well as external partners (printers, packagers, etc.).

      • Expanding your brand system with additional graphical elements and formats.

      • Transitioning from internal resources or freelancers and enlisting the help of a professional agency for perhaps the first time. 

    4. The main goal behind a refresh is to create more consistency and refinement. It’s ideal if you need a subtle lift or a gentle bump, but it won't transform how your audience sees you. Many folks won't notice the difference—which is often an explicit goal.

    5. Refresh example: Wyld
    6. Result
      Taking cannabis edibles to an all new high. Read the case study
  2. Reframe: a substantial step toward alignment and evolution.

    1. A reframe is more involved than a refresh but less sweeping than a reset. At this level, your brand will continue to share some elements with its previous iteration. At the same time, it will be distinct from your existing identity—a noticeable change to those closely involved with your brand. When viewed side by side, the differences, as well as the similarities, will be easy to identify.

    2. Some essential aspects of a reframe are:

      • Incorporating a deeper or different level of strategic thinking than exists for your existing brand.

      • Focusing or developing your brand platform to better serve as a solid foundation for creative/brand decisions.

      • Re-addressing your logo and identity elements, including colors, fonts, and messaging frameworks.

      • Expanding your visual language and reimagining creative executions, like packaging, websites, etc.

    3. It represents change—inside and out. The main goal is to modernize, adapt, and evolve your brand to better align with your foundational strategies , direction, and long-term strategy. Sometimes, this level of rebranding is very noticeable to customers. It's also true that it can feel like a more significant change within the organization itself. 

    4. Refresh example: Marzocchi
    5. Result
      Going full-send with this once-and-again-great brand. Read the case study
  3. Reset: a complete overhaul aimed at radical transitions and realignment.

    1. This level represents a complete departure from your existing brand. A reset is the right approach if you view your current identity as brand debt rather than brand equity. The same goes if you're business is experiencing a directional shift.

    2. With this approach, nothing is sacred or precious about the previous brand. The new identity will—and should—be so different that official announcements, a new company name, different products/services, and educational campaigns often accompany it. 

    3. A reset is characterized by:

      • A willingness to walk away from every aspect of your existing brand.

      • Purposeful distancing from how things used to be and a focused transition toward a new trajectory.

      • Massive impact on every element of your brand.

      • Little to no consistency with the old brand.

    4. The key objective of a reset is to create a stark separation from your old brand. You are executing a radical realignment due to a significant shift in direction. If your existing brand is a liability or a complete disconnect from what you are focusing on, you might need a reset.

Considerations when choosing the right approach.

As you debate the level of rebranding best suits your needs, keep the following thing in mind:

  • Your brand is more than your logo. This work can have a broad impact beyond the logo, such as messaging, tone, voice, graphic language, photography, illustrations, and quality of execution.

  • Specific engagements can fall between these categories—use them as guidelines rather than strict definitions.

  • Each level has different scopes, timelines, services, and costs associated with it, as well as varying impacts on your organization and existing brand elements. 

Brand updates are a big deal but shouldn’t be a big worry. 

Are you intimidated by the process of updating your brand’s identity? Don’t be. Having explored the three primary levels of rebranding—refresh, reframe, and reset—you can now confidently approach the process to ensure your brand gets the update it deserves. 

Selecting the right level is crucial for your overall success, so consider these approaches carefully. If you want to get our take or learn more about how Parliament can help you make the most of your refresh, reframe, reset, or something in between, we’d love to hear from you .