Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

A brand restage brings new life to an established brand

Is it time for a brand restage or a brand refresh? 

Is your logo out of date? Is your marketing program not producing? Do you need to reach new audiences? Are your communication tools tired and boring? Then it’s time for a brand restage.

The most successful brands and organizations stand for something. They have loyal customers, enthusiastic employees and an established niche in their market. Yet we see many successful, long-term companies that have fallen behind in telling their story and sharing the value they provide. Most were focused on taking care of customers and building the organization.

Meanwhile, they’ve lost sight of the importance of how they are perceived by new audiences. Remember, perception is reality.

A solid brand program presents the organization visually and verbally–with a brand identity and design system that reflects what’s so; and a messaging hierarchy that communicates essential ideas in a clear and compelling way. Both reflect the culture of the organization and create a context to live into. They also help the company stand out from others in the category.

When the design, message and overall presentation no longer reflect what you stand for, it’s time for a brand restage.

Just what is a brand refresh?

brand refresh updates the look and designThink of it as a makeover for your company … a better haircut, up-to-date outfit, and new shoes can transform how a person is perceived. It’s the same with your brand. An updated design and color palette can move your company from tired to transformed in the eyes of your staff and your target audiences.

Depending on how your brand identity has been used, it may be important to keep, update or add to specific elements. Or a brand restage–a new look, tone and presentation of the overall identity system could be needed.

Each still support a visual connection to how they were seen before. But the “new suit” makeover is up-to-date, vibrant and captivating. It is also standardized, designed to fit vertical or horizontal positions in a consistent “lockup” of mark and name. No more cutting it up, resizing, stretching or choosing a new typeface!

brand restage from the old logo

Previous Gormley Plumbing logo

Brand restage with an updated identity

Refreshed and updated Gormley Plumbing logo






The goal of a refresh is to make a visual connection between the old and the new. This makes the transition easier and builds on the brand recognition that has already been established.

Old First Federal logo

Old First Federal logo. Different placements also used different fonts.

brand restage updates the logo

Updated First Federal logo with standardized font, colors and updated mark

Often a refresh is the chance to update colors and standardize fonts, a color palette and a brand promise, as shown on the First Federal logo update.

A refresh is a good approach when there’s strong recognition for the old identity system, but a need to create a more standardized, contemporary look.

Often identity systems that have been around for a while have morphed and evolved to a mish mash of versions, with little consistency. A refresh is the time to bring that all together, create identity standards and guidelines, and put a fresh spin on the brand.

A brand restage takes it further … to a complete redesign

a rebrand is a whole new look

When everyone agrees a fresh start is the best, it’s time to restage the brand completely. Begin anew with a whole new design. Often a new design is needed to keep up with changing attitudes and audiences, or to reach new audiences that expect a more up-to-date look or contemporary image.

Along with a redesigned identity, it’s a good time to rethink how the organization is positioned, if there is a new direction to highlight, or a new niche being filled. Aligning the direction for the design and message with where the company is going and how it wants to be perceived will deliver  the best long-term solution. It will also help employees to understand those essential ideas and take pride in the new look.

I have been amazed at the difference new business cards make. When an employee is proud to hand out a card that is distinctive, captivating, interesting or just plain cool, a company ambassador and evangelist is created. It’s amazing to see how energized and enthusiastic people can be about a fresh, meaningful design they can share.

Salem Radiology old business card

Old business card for Salem Radiology Consultants

Brand restage on a new business card

New logo on the new SRC business card

Here are a few examples of successfully restaged brands. Each was created to make a bold statement for the company that moved them forward in their category.

SRC shifted from a line design representing old-fashioned X-rays to dots to represent digital technology.

The bold R for Roth Heating and Cooling, with the carefully placed degree sign helped the company stand out. When

Roth Heating business cards

Roth Heating new business cards

applied to the vans, Roth was seen as a major service provider, which helped them move into larger commercial projects. Staff were excited to drive the newly branded vans and hand out the new business cards.

Check out our website to see the before and after of the logo. The business card design is on the right.

When you’re ready to bring new energy to your brand, whether a refresh or restage, talk to us. We do some pretty darned good work that stands the test of time and reinvents how audiences see your organization.

Remember, that new design is more than a design system. It becomes a way to propel your organization forward, to unite your staff, to stand above the competition, and to reach new target audiences.

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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