Brand Refresh vs Rebrand; What’s the Difference?

Written by Linsey Reimer

I'm the owner of Bright Creative, where I help entrepreneurs and small businesses create strategic and scroll-stopping brand identities and websites. I'm also a massive book nerd, cat lover, super slow knitter, and wannabe beekeeper.

January 17, 2020

January is a month where business owners are keen to put into action all the plans they made in December and a question that’s on a lot of minds is, “Should I rebrand?”

Rebranding has become synonymous with taking a brand to a new level. But what does it look like to rebrand? What’s involved? And is a rebrand what you actually need?

What is the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?

Brand Refresh

A brand refresh typically involves evolving and upleveling a brand’s identity. This can involve a new website, a refined logo, professional copywriting, or a more polished social presence. A brand refresh is a signal that the brand is moving to a new level or evolving to keep pace with trends and culture.

Why would a brand refresh?

The most common reason for a brand refresh among solopreneurs is that the business is ready to move to a new level. Often this is more about signalling to consumers that the business is stable, professional, and evolving than it is about changing anything core to the brand.

I most often see this when someone is retiring their DIY starter website in favour of “going pro” by presenting a more polished face to the world. When you are embarrassed to hand out your card or you find yourself saying, “Well my site is out of date…” it may be time to refresh.

Refreshing tends to be a more cosmetic approach and that’s not meant to be derogatory; great design and copy are crucial in being taken seriously by potential customers. Refreshing a tired or amateur brand is a huge step in a business journey.


A rebrand is a complete teardown and rebuild of the brand based on a change in business strategy. It involves creating new brand and creative strategies to reflect the business goals that will eventually unfold in a change in identity. A rebrand is a signal that the brand is moving in a new direction.

Why would you rebrand?

Rebranding is necessary when there has been a change in business strategy. If a business decides to make a pivot and focus on a new kind of consumer, or a different market category, a rebrand is warranted.

In the spirit of “what got you here won’t get you there”, during a rebrand, we go right back to the strategic beginnings to ensure that we deeply understand the new audience and have a plan to attract them. We identify where the business sits in the competitive marketspace and clearly define what sets the business apart.

The next step is to build out a creative strategy. The creative strategy is your brand in action; it is a plan for how a consumer will move through your business from the first contact through to your offboarding and upselling. It involves knowing where your new audience spends their time, what sort of content they consume, and what problems they want to solve. In turn, these answers reflect how you build, price, and deliver your offers. The creative strategy becomes the foundation of your sales and marketing efforts.

Finally, a rebrand generally involves an upgraded or in some cases, a radically different identity. The creative strategy will highlight which assets need to be updated, retired, or evolved to better reflect the rebrand.

How do you know if you should do either?

Refreshing or rebranding should always be undertaken as a solution to a business problem. This requires business owners to do some investigating.

For example, where is your sales funnel breaking? Are you getting tons of traffic to your site but no one’s buying? You might be attracting the wrong people (maybe time to rebrand) or your site may be too amateur and not inspire confidence (maybe time to refresh).

Are you inclined to niche? Perhaps you were focusing on a number of different client types but now you want to build for just one kind of consumer. Often a business decision like this triggers a rebrand as it will be necessary to dig deep into your new audience and market to ensure you’re properly positioning yourself and connecting with your perfect people.

Finally, refreshing or rebranding should be approached strategically and wholistically. Updating your logo will never get you more sales. Revamping your offers for the sixth time isn’t helpful if you still don’t deeply understand your customers. Raising your prices because you feel you are “worth it” won’t work if you don’t understand where you sit in the market.

Take the time. Plan your brand first. Then put it all into action.

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