With the New Year, comes new goals, resolutions, dreams and that feeling of a fresh start.
While I don’t encourage a full-on re-brand every single year, it can be a great time to update a few little elements, get clearer on the direction based on reviewing how your year went, or decide to start fresh on something that will last you longer for once!
Before you do anything you need to question why you are wanting to freshen things up. Are you bored or your visual branding, have you seen someone else’s branding that has you feeling like you need to up the game, or feeling like things are getting too old, and need to look more modern and fresh, or has your brand changed direction or have you got clearer about the style and message you want.
If you are sure it is time to give things a little tweak and freshen up and it is not just a whim or away to procrastinate, or you are simply getting swept up in comparison or new design trends or looks you can’t stop eyeing off.
The idea of a brand refresh is to keep with the same overall feel and style but make tweaks and alterations to make it feel fresher or more modern or more inline with the current direction of your brand.
SOME GREAT EXAMPLES OF BIG COMPANIES WHO HAVE REFRESHED THEIR VISUAL BRANDING.
GAP– As you can see below, when Gap updated their branding, they kept the colour and square, but changed to a more modern font and newer feel. This kept key memorable elements but gave it a more modern feel and also helped them aim at a younger market.
Google– Google kept their exact colours and minimal feel, but simply change their font from a serif to sans-serif. This emphasised their minimalism and make them look more modern and clean. In many ways, it enhanced their brand values and feel, but kept them recognisable and didn’t steer far from their original look.
KFC– With a well known iconic icon, KFC refreshed their branding by simply pairing it down and simplifying it. They didn’t do anything new or change anything, but just pulled out the key part, making it less busy and enhancing the iconic character.
Pepsi– As a brand that has been around a long time, it is really interesting to see how their logo has transformed over the years. It is a great demonstration of how you can keep the same feel and elements but keep updating to keep the look fresh and modern and appealing to an ever-changing market. As you can see they have always stuck with the blue, white and red and the wave shape. So while the font and styling have altered, it still always keeps that ‘Pepsi’ feel, and remains recognisable.
SO HOW CAN YOU MAKE CHANGES TO FRESHEN UP YOUR VISUAL BRANDING?
CHANGING A FONT
As seen in the examples above, keeping all your main brand elements, like colour, shape and style, but just changing the font, can really make things feel fresher without losing the overall identity. Over time we get to know our brands, our message and our audience better. Sometimes our audience even changes, or if you are around a long time, the generation who fits into your audience changes. So a simple font change can be enough to redirect the feel and make things fresher without having to re-brand. It could be changing a serif (which has a more traditional, formal feel) to a sans-serif. Or you could simply change fonts. If you look at the Pepsi example, they change fonts but keep the same font feel.
I recently decided to change my serif font from Adobe Caslon Pro to FreightBig Pro. While I loved Caslon, I was starting to feel like it was too old and traditional, and as a designer, I wanted something a little fresher, elegant, feminine and beautiful, to emphasise that my brand is for women and design and visual focused. But I still wanted it to feel classic and stick with a serif, so when I came across Freight, it felt like the perfect fit. It was only a small change but freshened things up, and helped me better steer my brand the direction I want.
Colours are powerful in branding, they are highly memorable and can really set the tone, tell stories and evoke emotions and actions. So changing your colours is not always wise, if you want to keep consistent with your branding. But if you are careful you can make small adjustments. This could be adding an extra colour or two to your current palette if you feel it is lacking something. or if you feel the need to simplify and pair back you’re could drop a colour.
If you do feel the need to completely change a colour, do so carefully. Perhaps you had a deep green, and you want to make it lighter. Shifting the value and shade rather then a whole new colour can be perceived as a refresh. But completely changing your colours will be perceived as a rebrand by your audience, due to the powerful nature of colour. So you should only do this when you feel there is a need for a complete overhaul.
A great way to make your visual branding feel fresher without changing your branding is with photography. This could be finding a great source of stock photos that fit your brand style but feels fresher then what you currently use. Or doing a branded photoshoot. You could. hire a photographer, or do it yourself. Fresh profile photos of yourself and some great on brand stock type images to use on your website, graphics and social media, can make things feel new, without changing your branding at all.
I love to constantly play around with photography and build up a collection of my own stock images.
Read my post ‘How to Start Your Own Personal Branded Stock Library‘ for more tips and advice.
UPDATING YOUR LOGO
As you saw in the above big brand examples, making tweaks and updates to your logo can really freshen up your visual branding. Small tweaks that stay true to the original feel and keep certain elements can allow you to make things feel new without having to re-design and there’s still a recognisable look to it. So your audience is more likely to still recognise it as your brand. Simple and minimal is a big trend with logo updates. So if you feel your logo is too detailed and isn’t working well small, or just seems too busy, simply pairing it down and simplifying it could be the way to go. You could also play with the colour application, such as going from textured colour to flat colour or gradient to blocks of separate colours. You could also change the way you create a shape or icon, such as making it more 3D or flatter or adding shadows or fades to make it more dynamic. There are some great examples on Logo Lounge that may inspire you.
NEW GRAPHIC TEMPLATES
Using your existing brand elements, such as colours, logos, icons, fonts and patterns but using them in a new way to create new graphic templates can make things feel fresher. This could be your social media templates, blog post images, promo graphics or any other graphics you regularly use, either digital or print.
If you have been using the same templates for a long time, they may start to feel too repetitive and dull to you. And if your branding is working really well and is perfect your business, but you just feel a little bored with it all, and need to inject something new into the mix. Simply changing up your templates and creating new layouts can be a great idea. Play around with some different layout and text and image placements and don’t be afraid to experiment a little too. Look at other layouts on Pinterest or in magazines, and consider new ways you could set out the designs.
ADDING PATTERNS, ILLUSTRATIONS OR ICONS
One last idea for making your visual branding feel fresher is to add some new elements to it. This could be in the form of patterns, illustrations or icons. If you have never used any of these in your branding before, creating some that fit with your brand style can give things a fun new feeling, without steering from your overall visual branding. You are simply enhancing your current branding by adding some fun new elements. Just be sure to keep them in line with your current branding, so that they feel like a natural extention and are not conflicting.
I hope these tips have given you some great ideas to give your visual branding a refresh without needing to take on a re-design. If you give your brand a refresh, why not share the changes you made in the comments, I would love to see it.
Remember that while you see your branding everyday, and may feel bored with it, or wanting something new. Your audience only sees it now and then, they are not bored with it. To them it is memorable and they associate it with you and your brand, making it highly recognisable. So don’t make changes on a whim, but when you feel your audience is shifting or it genuinely needs tweeks to make it more modern or fit with the current brand direction as you get clearer on who you are and who you serve.
If you have never taken the time to really work on a distinct brand style, and want to once and for all define a style, so that you stick with yourvisual branding long term, only ever making tweaks, you can sign up for my FREE email course ‘Define Your Brand’s Visual Style‘ which will guide you through the process of defining a brand style.