Tuneup vs. Overhaul: Does Your Brand Need an Update or Rebrand?

Tuneup vs. Overhaul: Does Your Brand Need an Update or Rebrand?


Do you find yourself continuously trying to solve new problems in marketing and business? Do you get bored and decide to reinvent, redesign, rebrand, and repeat. Even if there isn't a problem, sometimes you may create one so that you can then solve it. This is actually a pretty common trait in leaders, especially ones involved heavily in marketing.

Blame it on the wonderful world of modern-day marketing where new looks and fresh ideas roll out non-stop on trendy Millennial pink (rose gold) conveyor belts draped in locally grown, sans-serif fonts.

So, how do you know that it’s time to rebrand and that your mind isn't just playing tricks on you? Could a tune-up get you the results you need without buckets of time, energy and money being poured out for an actual rebrand overhaul? Let's find out.

Rebrand Pop Quiz:

  1. Has your company shifted in its mission?

  2. Is innovation or technology-forcing change?

  3. Has competitive standout become an issue?

  4. Have your customers and audience changed?

  5. Has significant growth and change occurred for the brand?

ABORT ABORT ABORT: If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's time for a rebrand. Stop here and hit up some strategic experts to talk about it.

Time For A Tune-Up:

If you realize a complete overhaul is not necessary at this time, but your brand still needs some love, a tune-up may be just what you need. Pull all design assets and do an audit. Hold your design assets up to your current brand mission statement to see if they align. If they don't, it’s time for a tune-up.

A brand tune-up consists of taking elements of your brand and refreshing, tweaking, and changing them without disturbing the core of your message. When the perfect brand tune-up happens, people don't even realize it's happened. It's seamless, and your brand just keeps humming along.

Nuts & Bolts:

Now let's get to it. It’s best practice to review your brand every few years (2-3) to confirm it’s communicating your core message while staying current with your design. Brand tune-ups help you keep up with the continually evolving tools and technology of modern-day marketing. Keep these key points in mind when deciding on a direction to take.

  • Proceed with caution. A major shift in your brand could hurt the relationship with your client. They know your brand, they trust your brand, they don't want to see a complete change if they don't see the justification for it.

  • Figure out a Budget. You can’t just tweak one piece of collateral; you need to have everything changed across the board. Make a list of all the elements that need to be updated. Can’t financially do it all at once? That’s okay! Prioritize, schedule, and follow-through.

  • Work out a timeline. Timelines and budgets go hand-in-hand. The timeline shows a plan with reasonable action steps. Think of every detail and schedule it out. One of the biggest pitfalls of a poorly executed project is underestimating how much time it really will take.

Example Of A Brand Tune-Up Slay: How American Express Reinvigorated Its Brand With A Logo Refresh

AMEX by Pentagram

The AMEX refresh is a perfect example of a brand tune-up that maintained the integrity of a brand that has lasted well over a century while allowing for a brand to work seamlessly on multiple platforms. The slight shift in the type and simplification of the logo makes this a versatile and relevant brand tune-up that should get quite a few years’ traction and a great ROI.

Notes from Pentagram: 

"A refresh of one of the world’s most recognized brands updates the iconic Blue Box and builds a design language that can live outside it.”

As the brand has expanded, global business and consumer needs have also grown, resulting in a more diffuse expression of the brand at a global scale. The new visual identity brings strength, simplicity, and rigor to the brand, extending a cohesive look and voice to American Express products, services, and experiences.

The new brand platform has maintained and magnified its unusually rich collection of brand elements, including its distinctive Centurion and World Service pattern, kept the integrity of their brand by cleaning up their logo, and making sure it can work across all platforms while emerging to make it time relevant, but still keeping their message the same."



Invest For The Future:

Sometimes perfection is in the subtle differences and shifts. Those subtleties can sometimes be the hardest parts to solve without a strategic framework in place. Escaping the "bell jar" of a confined view and entrapment of your own brand and getting outside perspective is very valuable. It is probably the best place to start when you are evaluating what needs to be done to keep your brand current and relevant to your mission.

No matter what is decided about your brand, the identity of a brand is fundamental to conveying the attributes, characteristics and messaging that differentiates you from everyone else. This should not be taken lightly, and the process should be as strategically thoughtful as a complete rebrand.

Though it may seem like an expensive and overwhelming undertaking in the short term, tremendous time and money are saved if you get ahead of the marketing obstacles and aren’t just putting out fires when they pop up.

Engage your own strategic experts to work through the best course of action for your business, be it a tune-up or a rebrand.