In the world of brand management, the temptation is often to create an entirely new brand when you have become tired of the old one. However, it is important to remember that it is the perception in the mind of the customer that really matters. So, unless you are going through a PR disaster, it is likely that the best approach is to evolve and refresh your existing brand identity to inspire an exciting new chapter.

Brand identity development typically falls into one of three categories: creating a new brand from the ground up, rebranding an established business or product, or refreshing an established business or product. Today, I am writing about the subtle art of refreshing an existing brand identity and why you don’t always need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Evolving a brand retains the intellectual property and goodwill the business has built over the years. The process is intended to instill the perception of progress in the customer’s mind, even if there have been no improvements within the brand itself. Often, we don’t notice when a brand has successfully been refreshed, and that’s a good thing. It works on a subconscious level, as if the brand is just somehow better, more relevant, and more aligned with our expectations, so we as customers continue to engage with the brand. On that basis, evolving the existing brand builds trust and loyalty and safeguards it from becoming irrelevant. Strategically speaking, incremental improvements are often more palatable to investors and stakeholders who perceive large rebrands to be exorbitant.

Google is a great example of how a brand identity has successfully evolved. The initial logo, which first appeared in 1997, would be a front-runner for the worst logo in history! Google went through a few years of changing their logo almost annually as if they were publicly stating they knew it was wrong and were trying to fix it. “Please stand by” it screamed, not ideal for a brand that built its reputation on delivering instant results with accuracy. But Google had an exceptional product, so powerful it dwarfed the brand aesthetic. However, that is not a luxury most businesses enjoy. Various iterations of the logo continued to appear, all with toy-like aesthetics which were almost certainly created by web developers in a rush. It would seem they didn’t engage a proper designer until the 2000s.

Eventually, around 2015, the Google logo evolved to become a visual representation of the sophisticated brand that it is, staying true to its heritage and maintaining the intellectual property the brand had built over the years. But had it not evolved, had they not refined and resolved their brand, it would have left the door open for other brands to have competed more effectively.

In summary, we can fast-track the desired perception of a brand with the target audience when we lay the foundations for success by following proven brand design processes and brand development strategies. So, unless you’re sitting on the next Google, establishing why your brand looks, feels, and behaves a certain way will be critical to the success of your business.