When's the right time for a Brand Refresh or a Rebrand?


Written by

Martin Sully

White text on black reads evolution or revolution? With 2 green devil horns above


  • When should I rebrand? It's difficult to know, a brand audit can help.
  • How much does a rebrand cost? Between $2k and $100k depending on deliverables
  • Do I need a brand refresh? 6 reasons you might be interested in a refresh
  • Do I need a rebrand? 7 reasons that might resonate with you - name change, rapid growth, mergers/acquisitions, bad press, poor brand strategy

Martin, when should I rebrand? How much does a rebrand cost?

We often have clients bashing at our door, holding up ramshackle brands that are wearing out faster than a Rolling Stones tee. Sure, they fit like a new pair of undies, but they lack vitality and smell funky.

Let's start with some context and one reason you might want to consider a rebrand.

I've worked with 2 clients for about 5 years. One's a social sporting business - which is service based, and the other is a hospitality business - so product based. I've designed websites, sales documents and adverts. I've photographed them and managed the two brands.

Nothing unusual there. 

Except these two businesses work hand in hand with one another, under the same roof, and they are struggling to market both businesses. One brand has been there since the beginning, the other was a complimentary business that got a separate brand.

They suggested to me to merge one brand into the original brand, cutting down on admin, having just one website and positioning themselves for the next expected evolution over the next 2-3 years. They are adding modular accommodation to the business, so need flexibility.

That sounds easy hey? Well, when you take an existing brand and morph it into another, instead of making the brand stand out, you actually end up weakening the position of both.

There's pitfalls here. You have existing reputation to manage, and customers have expectations and opinions on both brands. It can never be as simple as redirecting traffic, and in this instance I'd sit down with both teams, do a brand audit on brands, do a brand strategy workshop and after some customer and market research, move into creating the rebrand.

What can you expect to pay? Every agency has different values based on experience, time it's taken them and deliverables. You'd be looking at somewhere in the low range of $2,000, or high range of $100,000.

*Enter stage right: Rebranding*

A refresh can be a subtle evolution, but a rebrand can be a DRAMATIC revolution. 

Do I need a Brand Refresh?

Brand refreshes are the subtle extraction of brand DNA, the foundations of what makes your brand tick, along with the tone of voice you currently have, paired with a new, scorching-hot brand identity. Aka Brand Refresh.

And, there's a number of reasons you might want to refresh your brand:

  • You don't like your brands appearance
  • You don't stand out from competitors
  • You're embarrassed to show it off
  • You want to attract new audiences
  • You want to raise your prices
  • You apologise for having a bad website.

None of these things mean that we need to take you in for full-on brand surgery. These are more superficial problems that are either confidence related, or just that after using the same identity for more that 7 years, you've become a little tired.

Do I need a Rebrand?

Time for us to peg our noses, grab a pair of kitchen tongs, and jostle that holey t-shirt into a bin liner. Aka Full Rebrand.

Rebrands need to empathise with customers and consider the businesses needs. And... find a creative solution that addresses it all. The purpose of the rebrand is to help your marketing reconnect to your audience in a fresh, meaningful way. 

A rebrand is a purposeful tool that can alter perceptions quicker than a huntsman spider escapes Tupperware.

They're about redesigning and rewriting a compelling brand story. It's not slapping a bad-ass logo on your business and hoping for the best. It's about digging deeper and redefining the brands position against competitors.

In an evolving world of Customer Value Propositions (CVPs), Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) — why customers buy from you and why staff want to come work for you — a brand cannot remain the same throughout its lifespan. A rebrand might happen in 7-10 years, other businesses that are reliant on word-of-mouth and solid relationships can stretch that to 15-20 years.

Rebrands can keep you current with consumers evolving needs.

If your brand stinks - it needs a refresh

Like a festering seafood market on a balmy 35C+ day, it's important to freshen up the fish display to remain relevant. It's possible to keep things fresh, celebrate your heritage and inject new life into it. 

In fact, it's a trick successful brands use to adapt and evolve. Keeping their audience interested in a changing marketplace.

Even some of the best-known brands, have concluded their visual identity looked closer to a century egg than a Faberge egg. 

These all rebranded at some point.

  • Apple Computers become Apple
  • Facebook became Meta
  • Google became Alphabet
  • All the car manufacturers rebranded... Kia, VW, Nissan. The evolution of electric vehicles likely sped up need for rebrands.

So when's the right time to rebrand? To evolve? Revolutionise that fading t-shirt? Don't panic. We'll take you through five reasons to rebrand.

Your brand name no longer fits

You thought it was a great idea to call your brand Pen Island, until you started writing  your URL onto promotional material – admittedly Penis Land does have quite the impact, I'm just not sure it will help sell your pens.

All jokes aside, an alignment of a new name with a brand identity is really important.

Your brand name needs to be:

  • Strategic – aligned to your brands objective. Will it connect to the audience?
  • Meaningful – aligned with your values and how you want to be perceived.
  • Available – Can you get the name in a URL, Social Media handles, and is it trademarked?
  • Recognisable – Does it stand out? Does another brand use it?
  • Easy to say – Is it clear, easy to pronounce and search online?
  • Catchy – Is the name something that sparks a reaction and will be remembered.

Your business model changed or grew rapidly

We see it a lot. One little squirt of expanding foam and that brand charges forward until bits break off. Leaving you with blobs of 'brand' in unexpected places. It can get really fragmented.

What may have started life as a side hustle – with a DIY logo – knocked up by Terry, your friends, neighbours cousin.

They then put you in touch with their cousins, neighbour Antoine, who pirated a website template for you to use.

Before you know it, that unwieldy foam blob needs reshaping into something that doesn't represent Jabba the Hutt.

As your business changes, so should your brand.

Your brand is on an unpredictable journey to a new place

Step aside Chat GPT – we don't need your predictable responses or lack of creativity. Our own ability to innovate and make fudge-ups sets us apart from the bots.

You added products and services and got rid of them to narrow down and focus on what made you great.

But your business is wildly different now. Time to plot a new course – you're buoyed by new goals, partnerships and end results.

You need to drag your branding with you to contain the vision and keep its collective sh*t together.

Your brand needs to divert attention from bad press aka, it's on Santas naughty list

After some risqué moves, your brand has slid onto Santas naughty list. A rebrand to steer its spicy nature elsewhere is a priority if you want to avoid negative press. 

Although a better strategy is not to bury the bad press, but admit your faults, patch up problems and explain why a rebrand is necessary.

It's to help guide and re-adjust perceptions, without being seen as disingenuous or sneaky.

Don't get us wrong. It's not simple. Changing perceptions and building trust after it's been damaged isn't easy, but demonstrating to your audience that you've evolved and grown from disobedient delinquent to courteous er... brand, can be as simple as refreshing your visual look and feel.

As long as psychologically, you can show you've grown and changed (and can keep it up), you can start rebuilding that brand.

Your brand is being acquired, or merging with another company

A conglomerate moves in to buy you, and all that growth and evolution leads to sewing together products, services, messaging and staff to make a frankenbrand. A contrasting and complex brand that confuses the audience.

You need to decide whether to continue as two brands or rebrand to a single brand and communicate the changes to your customers.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to consolidate your strategy, visual identity and listen to staff - to streamline that growth.

Your brand lacks an emotional response

This isn't uncommon. Most brands are told to focus on the functional and philosophical benefits of their brand.

Looking at emotional benefits is seen as being a tad, woo woo. But a good brand strategist will always look for a way to separate their clients.

Our brains act as filters to protects us from too much information. So when we differentiate our brands by using emotions, or a particular colour/font, we stand out.

a pattern of hollow circles with one circle filled in to show how our brands look for differences
Visualising the emotional benefit

We crave entertainment, joy, stories that cause transformation. So we need to uncover the transformations to engage customers.

We've created a special download to help brands do this – take a look at the Feels Finder and uncover your brands superpower

When should I rebrand? 

The things you need to ask yourself are – what's my biggest, single challenge right now? And how do I overcome it?

You might be pleasantly surprised to know I've been in this position.

I started a company called Martin Sully Design back in 2014, which focused on graphic design.

As things progressed, I found myself offering brand strategy, photography and videography and website design. They all complement to brand identity creation and graphic design.

I changed the name and position of the studio to reflect that I was a full-service creative agency.

Spelling out your problem is often the simplest way to find a solution, so you must be brutally honest with yourself.

Need support? Book a Discovery Call.

Not sure where you want to go? We can chat through your brand, personal goals and work out an action plan.

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