Earlier this year, Pepsi rebranded itself by tweaking its famous global logo. As the leadership says, the need to reinvent the logo arose from the pressing desire to connect future generations with the brand’s heritage by integrating distinctive historical markers of the Pepsi brand with “contemporary elements.

Don’t you think the lengths brands go to rebrand themselves is amazing? As time passes, it becomes crucial for brands to continuously update, advance, and adapt newer ways to stay relevant for their audience. MasterCard, Discovery Channel, Slack, Staples, Zara, and many others rebranded themselves the previous year.

Most companies spend 10-20% of their marketing budget on branding or rebranding. So what really is rebranding, and why is it so important?

Rebranding - ImageKit blog
The evolution of Pepsi's logo over the decades.

What is rebranding?

To stay relevant, build a stronger bond with their existing audience, and keep up with the time, and trend, the process of changing the corporate image, identity, or perception of a company or product is rebranding.

It involves altering elements like the name, logo, design, messaging, and overall brand strategy to present a new identity to the public. Rebranding can be undertaken for various reasons, such as to adapt to market changes, improve brand perception, or target a new audience. Brands spend thousands, sometimes millions on branding to attain:

  • Fresh and modern image: stay current and appeal to a younger audience.
  • Differentiation: stand out from competitors and be more memorable.
  • Repositioning: change market positioning, and target a new audience.
  • Repair brand image: rebuild trust and credibility after a reputation crisis.
  • Expand to new markets: tailor the brand to suit different audiences.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: create a unified brand for combined entities.
  • Adapt to changes: stay relevant in rapidly changing environments.
  • Attract investment and talent: increase appeal to investors and potential employees.

Types of branding

Every business needs to understand why they’re branding and for whom. Broadly, there can be various types in which a brand can re-brand itself and create a fresh image, however, it seems deeply from the need of the hour. Here are the various types:

  • Product Branding: The branding here is specific to a product or its lines.
  • Service Branding: The branding is specific to a service by the organization.
  • Personal Branding: The branding here is for the leadership, the board, and even individuals.
  • Co-Branding: A collaborative branding between two brands to create a combined product or service.
  • Online Branding: The branding here is specific to online channels for a digital-first image.
  • Employer Branding: Focused on building new employees, this branding highlights the company’s culture, values, and benefits.
  • Luxury Branding: More like an uplift, the branding here is focused on creating a premium feel or image.

As you can see, branding can be of many types, it’s tied to the function or the outcome it delivers. However, the two most popular and common use cases of branding are brand refresh and a complete brand rehaul or full branding.

A brand refresh is when a brand doesn’t want to change the full image, but just upgrade to match the current market trends, taste, style, or need. To remain modern, brands need to do this from time to time and drive relevance. This can be done by changing logos, colors, font style, artwork, or typography.

Key characteristics:

  • Updated logo and visual elements: All the visual elements are modernized to enhance the brand experience. This included logo, color palette, typography, or other visual elements.
  • Revised messaging: The company’s messaging is changed like tagline, mission, vision or messaging.
  • Strategic adjustments: Although a big one, here the marketing strategy is changed like channels, target audience, offerings etc.

For example, here’s Mastercard’s logo adaption. The complete rehaul credits to the brand’s attempt to a single digital identity that matches the ongoing move to online banking shown by customers.

Rebranding - ImageKit blog
The evolution of Mastercard's logo over the decades.

The second most common type of rebranding is full rebranding. Also known as brand overhauled, this is a careful repositioning or a radical transformation of the brand’s image or identity. The company’s image goes through a complete change from logo to colors to typography to come out as a new, and different brand. This is usually done when brands want to detach themselves from their previous image and start afresh.

Key characteristics

  • A new brand identity: Brands here undergo massive change and come out with a fresh slate - a new logo, design, color palette, and visual elements.
  • New messages: Most brands come up with a new tagline to remember them and slowly override their previous message. This is stronger, punchier and easy to remember.

A great example, however debatable is Kia. Over the years, KIA has gone through many logo changes, often trying to come out stronger than before, however, the latest KIA logo has been a huge talk of the town. People often take it for KN where several KIA users have taken to the internet to express how they’re left confused.

Even after 6 attempts, KIA’s new logo is so confusing that 30,000 people every month Google “KN car,”

Rebranding checklist

It is safe to say that the rebranding process will look different for each organization basis its size, service, industry, and age. However, a generic framework like the one we will discuss now fits all. All the process, you will understand what’s integral to your branding process.

  • Brand Audit

    Perhaps the entry point to your rebranding exercise, all brands should first kick off with an exhausting brand audit which involves the evaluation of all branded assets and identity—starting from the logo, typography, fonts, color pallet, website, marketing materials, and social media profiles to understand how the brand is perceived by the target audience.

    This step helps pick out brands' strengths, and weaknesses and more importantly, allows the freedom to understand how they resonate in the market. Through the brand audit, a company gains valuable insights to make informed decisions and successfully execute the rebranding process.
  • Ensure legality

    In 2016, Facebook sued LitterGram, a British-based app for solving the litter problem. Facebook felt that the use of ‘Gram’ could tamper the world’s most famous photo-sharing site’s brand. This could only happen because Facebook (Instagram) has a tight branding policy around its usage.

    When brands exercise rebranding processes, the new identity must be clean and already not registered under trademarks. Therefore, before proceeding any further in the process, check on the legal use of the name, logo and other elements to keep yourself free from feuds.

Develop brand guidelines

During the audit, the brand is likely to discover the gaps in the current strategy. This is where all the analysis comes into the picture. A strong brand has:

  • A clear and straightforward mission statement
  • A tagline/slogan that represents your brand
  • A set of solid core values that defines your company
  • An identified target audience
  • A few unique value propositions that differentiate you from others

Create a comprehensive set of brand guidelines that clearly outline the above-mentioned and how the new brand should be presented across channels. These guidelines should cover logo usage, color schemes, typography, imagery, and other relevant visual elements.

  • Create a style guide

A brand style guide is a curation of everything in your brand toolkit. Imagine if a new vendor is onboarded and he wants to use the brand logos for a social media post - how does the brand guide them on usage, placement, and typography?

This guide will act as a reference for all visual elements of the blog, ensuring consistency in design across various platforms. For instance, the style guide might detail the exact RGB or HEX codes for the blog's primary brand colors, as well as guidelines for using images and graphics that resonate with the new brand's personality.

Here’s an example from Netflix on how to use its logo. This brand style guide helps all of Netfliux’s collaborators with the use of their branded elements.

Netflix's brand style guide on how NOT use the logo.

Update visual elements

Once you’ve solidified your plan, it’s time to update your visual elements. Honestly, this is where the rebranding exercise starts to take shape - is this a product/line rebranding or a complete overhaul? Depending on the usage, go ahead and update your branded elements with the update work. Ensure that the new logo is safeguarded from infringements, and adheres to the new brand guidelines.

Pro tip: Many brand struggle from this stage onwards in sharing, storing, and collaborating with the new branded elements.

We highly recommend you create a single source of truth through a drive link, your website or a DAM (digital asset management) system that lets the branding team update all key stakeholders in one click. A DAM system is a centralized system for organizations to organize and access their media assets.

To start with, these visuals now serve a bigger purpose than just looking good. They need to be updated, shared across portals and channels and made accessible. Brand visuals include:

  • Brand logo
  • Brand font/ typography
  • Brand color pallet/ style
  • Style guide

Website/ App:
Most businesses now have a customer-facing lever like an app or a website, which requires immediate attention post-rebranding. Brands do not want customers to associate the company with an old image, more so leaving them conceded.

As soon as the style guide is ready, implement the new logo and visual identity on the website, app, and all things customer-facing. Update the site's color scheme, typography, and layout to match the new brand guidelines. Aim for a consistent look and feel that reflects the blog's repositioned identity. We also recommend doing a fresh run on the website copy to align with the new message.

  • Update marketing material:
    From business brochures to social media to emailers and push notifications, apply the new brand identity to all marketing channels.

    Pro tip: Do check for adapts for varying digital screens and make sure that the messaging is aligned.
  • Update Packaging  
    If the blog offers physical products and has packaging, update it with the new logo and visual identity. Ensure that all packaging elements, including text and graphics, align with the brand guidelines.
  • Update Social Media Profiles
    Implement the new brand identity across all social media platforms. Update the profile picture, cover photo, and other visual elements to reflect the blog's new logo and design aesthetic. Consistency across social media channels is crucial for brand recognition.

Update Internal Resources:

Aside from your external channels, updating internal teams, portals, and channels can be a daunting task. Imagine Tom from IT who has the old logo in the email signature or Sarah from sales who sent the pitch to a client with the old typography. If these clients land on the company’s website, there’s a clash of interests.

As we discussed, use a common drive or DAM software to let your internal teams access the new branded files. Apply the updated branding material to all internal sources like digital, print, internal forms, invoices, receipts, stationery etc.

Train employees:

In a study conducted by Marq (formerly Lucidpress), 85% of organizations reported they had brand guidelines. However, only 30% say they are enforced. Perhaps not the last, but incredibly crucial in the process of transitioning from the old messaging to the new one is conducting internal training sessions with all the employees to educate them on the new guidelines and their usage.

This step is often ignored in organizations, assuming only key stakeholders will manage the entire transition. However, every employee of the company needs to be made aware of the updated logo and visual identity for a unified branding experience.

From your vendors to your admin - all communication of the company needs a radical shift to the latest style as soon as it’s in motion.

Bringing it all together

From conducting market research and defining brand values to designing logos, selecting colour schemes, and creating brand guidelines, each aspect plays a vital role in shaping how the world perceives the brand.

When the going gets tough, turn to a digital asset management tool to store, save, and share your new branding assets. A DAM systems unlocks you at multiple levels - from taking approval from leadership to informing internal teams about the change, DAM systems are robust enough to handle the load. Remember, a unified document that keeps the team appraised about the process is the most important step in your branding

Get. Set. Go!