Rebrand vs. Refresh: What’s Right for Your Firm?

By Ida Cheinman posted 01-10-2018 09:25


First Things First: What Is a Brand?

A brand is NOT a logo. Or a tagline. Or an identity system.

A brand is an expectation of experience and a promise delivered.

It’s the perception others have  your company – its people, culture, products  services.

Your brand is also your most critical business asset and the most powerful competitive advantage.

Your company builds its brand, or rather the perception of its brand, with every customer contact, planned or unplanned. Every interaction, no matter how insignificant, shapes your brand’s perception and drives your customers’ behavior.

Rebranding is about taking control of what your audiences think – and say – about your brand and, therefore, implies undergoing significant changes in your strategy before you get involved in tactical details of execution.

Why Rebrand Now?

Sometimes you simply don’t have a choice – we call it a “reactive rebrand.” The most common reasons include M&As and legal or publicity issues, which often leave companies with no other option.

Proactive rebrands are driven by anticipated changes or are a result of ongoing brand assessments and audits that signal “it’s time!” Some examples may include:

  • Planned change in leadership or business direction
  • New markets or services
  • Lack of alignment
  • Positioning issues or loss of relevancy
  • Lack of image and message consistency or a current brand is outdated

Should You Rebrand or Refresh?

How do you know if you need a fresh coat of paint of a major rehab?

Ask yourself: Is there a need for a fundamental shift in your company’s positioning? Or, are issues mostly image related?


If the need “to do something” comes on the heels of significant business changes or is prompted by the fact that your brand is no longer in alignment with your business, this calls for a rebrand.

In professional services, the most pressing need often comes from positioning issues:

  • Are competitors charging ahead at the  speed while you find yourself drowning in the red ocean?
  • Do you lose more proposals than you win? And are you chasing more proposals than you should?
  • Does the conversation always seem to be about price and do you seem to be losing the fight against commoditization again and again?
  • Are you losing the war for  talent?

If you answered Yes to any of these or a myriad of similar questions, you have a positioning problem. You are not perceived as a premium brand or as the top expert in solving your clients’ business problems, and it’s not clear what makes you better than the rest.

It’s time to rebrand!


However, if there’s nothing wrong with your current positioning and message, if your brand strategy is solid, if you are not looking to enter new markets, and it’s mostly the message and design system that are lacking power and consistency, you have a good case for simply clarifying and re-focusing your brand image and story through a refresh.