Janet Giampietro | G Design + Communications
G Design + Communications


Thoughts, after-thoughts, insights, resources (and goodies) as they relate to design and strategic communications.

When is the Right Time for a Brand Refresh


A fresh coat of paint can make a drab room livable. A fashion makeover can boost self-esteem. And a realigned brand can bring an organization back in favor with its audience.

A brand refresh, not to be confused with a total rebranding, may be needed when an organization’s strategy is not well-defined, new products are introduced, or programs may grow larger,  possibly requiring sub-brand status. Even if growth and revenue continue, the brand becomes more insular. It becomes clearer to internal stakeholders than to its customers. External audiences have been left behind because of internal sprawl and there’s no longer a connection.

On the surface, a brand refresh may appear to affect only creative assets, but more than likely it means taking a closer look at a number of factors including:

  • Positioning strategy: Is it on-target for your audience?

  • Story: Is your narrative clear and distinctive?

  • Messaging: Is it consistent across your marketing channels?

  • Customers: Has your base changed or expanded?

Building on those factors will then inform the creative.

Examples and Case Studies

Brand New is a resource for examining corporate and brand identity work. Some of the opinions are useless and outright mean (I have some issues with these types of sites when the eager commenters were not likely part of the process). Nevertheless, it’s a wonderfully designed compilation site for reviewing hundreds of brand systems, and understanding the creative work and overall thinking that goes along with them.

A roundup of case studies that examine brand refreshes.

  • AMEX: Pentagram refreshes of one of world’s most recognized brands.

  • Alzheimer’s Australia: Interbrand delivers an inspiring result in the fight for funding.

  • HGST: Siegal + Gale changes the dynamic of a big data company.

  • Historic Houses: UK-based Johnson Banks does a makeover on this nonprofit.

  • NJPAC: Pentagram gets jazzy with a consistent visual language.

  • Philips: Interbrand draws from its past to lead into the future.

  • University of North Carolina: Ologie breaks free from traditional university graphics.


Flickr photo: Amanda NiekampCC BY 4.0