Apart from the obvious fact that a new identity is mostly suited to a new business or product, and a refresh (or rebrand) is normally undertaken on an existing entity, what’s the difference? And which is right for you?
The most important part of the initial diagnostic process is to determine whether the existing brand or identity has any brand equity, which in short is the momentum or value of an existing business or product. A new entity usually has no, or very little, brand equity.
When an entity has no existing identity, there is little risk of doing any damage by developing an exciting new brand identity system. Letting go of all preconceived ideas of how brands should look is pretty safe. But that doesn’t mean we should move forward without a strong positioning strategy. In fact, a good strategy should mark out a clear path for filling a gap in the market in which the new entity can sit.
We recently created a brand new identity for Bee Prepared, a training organisation specialising in beekeeper training. As the only accredited training organisation providing Certificate III Training in Beekeeping in South Australia, we knew the branding needed to help establish Bee Prepared as a reputable, trusted and credible institution. We took this one step further by positioning Bee Prepared as South Australia’s ‘Bee University’.
The argument for a refresh
Sometimes the brief is to retain brand equity at all costs, which usually means that a refresh is the best approach. Changes might be subtle and purely aesthetic in nature in order for the entity to remain contemporary and sophisticated. For example, the logotype be updated with a more contemporary font that is more legible at small sizes, with all other elements remaining the same. Or the logomark may be refined to increase functionality across digital applications. Sometimes pushing the creative too far can damage brand recognition with an existing audience, and that may not be great for business.
For Think Architects, their existing identity was interesting, but didn’t quite align with the sophistication that their architecture projects were achieving. We refined the existing logo and accompanying identity system to portray the same high level of quality and professionalism that this architectural firm were outputting in their builds. The new identity retains enough of their existing visual assets to hold onto their brand equity, while helping Think Architects establish themselves as a leader in their field.
When a rebrand might be required
If the project objective is to change the public perception of the existing entity, a rebrand, or change in visual identity significant enough to suggest change, might be in order. A rebrand breathes new life into an entity, and signifies exciting changes are taking place!
Another good reason to completely rebrand is if the existing corporate entity carries the name of the founder or partners. The most common examples of these are usually law firms and accounting firms. Every time partnerships change or founders retire, these entities face the challenge of changing the names on the front door. This can be very tricky and complex.
The solution is to develop a unique and memorable brand name which does not carry partner or founder names. Then ownership structures can change or evolve regularly without loss of brand recognition.
If an entity is getting confused with a close competitor, it’s not standing out in the market, or there is confusion about what products and/or services it offers, a total rebrand—complete with a new name—is probably necessary!
One institution needing a rebrand was Pasadena High School, who came to Flux to help transition to their new name, Springbank Secondary College. The school’s pedagogy, specialised facilities and new partnerships with the Australian Science & Mathematics School and Flinders University also drove this rebrand. Combined with a bold new colour scheme and playful patterns, we developed a new identity, displaying the creativity, innovation, inclusivity and excitement that the school so strongly encourages in its students.
In all cases, it is important to undertake some level of market research in order to create observations to aid positioning strategy. In addition, with an existing entity, a review of existing communication design collateral is an important part of developing a framework for this positioning.
What is most important in any branding process, is that the new, refreshed or rebranded system is aligned with your organisation’s values and actions.
If you are unsure about if a refresh or rebrand is the right strategy for you, contact us for a free one hour consultation.