It’s a refresh, not a rebrand! – Key Considerations for Marketing Managers

September 10, 2018 Whitney Harnisch

At Tegrita, we welcome collaborators and guest writers to contribute content to our blog. This week, Whitney Harnisch, Senior Marketing Specialist at Congressional Federal Credit Union, talks about what it takes to do a brand refresh. Drawing from personal experience, Whitney highlights the steps that all Marketing Managers should take to seamlessly execute their plan without overwhelming their team and the audience.

With so many definitions, none of which seem to fit perfectly, a company’s brand is, at the very least, how a person perceives your products, services, experience or organization. A strong brand can affect the way your audience interacts with you and even influence their decision-making.

Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

Like many things, your brand can become tired and outdated if left alone for too long. When that happens, it’s important to step back and decide what is best for your organization: a rebrand or a refresh.

A rebrand should be considered if you find that your current brand does not align with your business strategy, there are anticipated changes coming to the services you provide, or if you find that you’re not as relevant as you once were. Before considering a rebrand, take into consideration that rebranding is more than changing your logo. Deciding to take on this project means that you will be changing the image of your company – from its visual identity to the messaging and voice.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a refresh of your brand, re-focusing your messaging and design to have a clearer and more concise direction can make all the difference. A refresh allows your company to keep the brand recognition it already has while allowing you to assess and update the items that may need some TLC. Unlike the rebranding process, a brand refresh should maintain a connection to the original brand identity. Updates or tweaks to the color choices, templates, fonts and image selection can help your brand feel more current and vibrant.

I know from experience

My organization recently decided that a brand refresh was needed – new colors, image selection guidelines, and templates for our marketing collateral. We worked closely with a design agency, a consultant and members of our executive team to assess our current brand and figure out how to better align it with our members. After deciding what aspects of our brand we wanted to improve upon, we spent several months developing a strategy and fine-tuning the visual guidelines.

As we neared the finish-line, the brand refresh was turned over to the marketing team to execute. I didn’t realize at the time, but selecting the colors and images was the easy part. Conducting a full marketing audit and creating a detailed rollout strategy were two key steps that needed to be finalized before any new templates, colors or images were revealed.

Executing a brand refresh – A checklist for marketing managers

I found it useful to create a “to do” list leading up to the launch of the refresh. Below are key tasks that should be considered before you launch a refresh:

  • Create a Visual Identity Guide (VIG): Update or create a new VIG. An updated VIG should be sent to any partners, vendors, and internal staff to ensure your refreshed guidelines are being followed. This guide should include CMKY/RGB/Hex colors, fonts, images, proper logo usage etc.
  • Inventory Marketing Collateral: Conduct an audit of all marketing collateral to ensure all member/front facing pieces are consistent and updated. Include links to the source files, online assets, and make note of the inventory you have for each printed marketing piece to help prioritize the updates and work in the most cost-effective manner.
  • Catalog Digital Content: Similar to your marketing collateral, your digital content on your website and what is being used in current campaigns will need to be updated. Include the type of asset, source files, online URL and any other relevant information. This should include emails, landing pages, digital ads and other marketing initiatives.
  • Identify Templates to Refresh: Compile a list of templates that need to be updated. The last thing you want is to rollout a brand refresh and then realize your business cards or letterhead still have the old look and feel! Some examples of templates that may need updating: email, print/digital ads, forms, business cards, letter head etc.

Once you have identified everything that needs to be updated, you should create a rollout strategy that works best for your organization. There is lot of work to be done, but it can’t be done all at once. Don’t overwhelm your team or your audience by giving them everything at once. Try rolling out updated colors and templates in phases. For example, we decided to kick-off the refresh with our email and ad templates and work our way up to the launch of our updated website.

When ready, launch!

Expect the rebranding or brand refresh to be somewhat time consuming. Depending on the scope of things your company decides to update, the launch of a new brand or refresh can take up to a year or more. Take your time and make sure you’re moving in the right direction for your brand. The goal is to improve and not diminish what was already in place.


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