13th May 2020

The difference between branding and re-branding. 

The difference between branding and re-branding.

Exploring what it means to create a brand from scratch, giving birth to a new creative personality, and what it means to evolve this in order to stay relevant.

When you think of a brand, what do you think of?

Is it that just a logo springs to mind? The Nike tick perhaps? The Coca Cola typeface? The Apple…well, apple?

Yes that’s a brand for sure, but just for a second, push that logo aside in your mind and try and look at what’s behind it. Because although that might be the face of a business, it’s only the tip of an unbelievable amount of work that’s gone into it’s making.

Branding may be the most difficult process in the creative industry, but also the most rewarding. For me, it’s like creating a person.


  • It must be clear in what it thinks, it must know what it stands for and what it wants to achieve. This is the base of everything. A brand must have values & goals.


  • A brand must be able to connect with who it needs to connect with, using language they can both understand and relate to. This is how it communicates. A brand must have a tone of voice.


  • It must know how to present itself in a way which enhances both its message and thoughts. This is how it makes a visual impact. A brand must have an image.


  • Lastly, its actions must channel all of the above in unison, it must be able to act in a way that is clear and leave behind the message it intended. This is how it makes a lasting impression. A brand must create emotion.


Once these are crafted you should be able to interact with a brand and feel a certain way, the way its creators intended. Very similar to how different people in life give you different feelings.

Each brand has its own personality.

For example: Nike. 

When we think of Nike we think: cool, out-there, confident, dynamic, a brand that’s open minded, daring and a natural leader.

Why? Because of the carefully selected models & athletes, their looks, and what they themselves stand for. Because of the way the design always pushes creative boundaries, does something different but is always beautifully crafted. Because of the strength of its statements, their boldness, their impact, and the emotion they spark in you.

All of these give us this feeling; its personality.

The logo, really, is simply a mark that underpins it all. The brand, that’s the collaborative collection of everything else.

You should be able to interact with a brand and feel a certain way, in the way its creators intended.

Re-branding is when this personality that we’ve created needs to change. Much like us as people change in our lives, we adapt ourselves and grow depending on what’s happened or what’s about to happen. Imagine if you kept the same personality you had as a teenager, do you think you could succeed at the life you lead now acting that way?

It’s the same with brands, they must update in order to survive.

There are different reasons for this, and these reasons will govern how they choose to re-brand:


  • It might be that a brands original ‘personality’ didn’t achieve what they needed it to, the creators miscalculated, they didn’t get one or more of the components quite right and it never worked in the first place. These re-brands need a lot of work to get it ‘right’ the second time.


  • It could be that two brands are merging, and their ‘personalities’ now have to coexist with each other. Blend their values, their goals, how they speak and communicate with both audiences.


  • It might be that the brands personality has been working, but its audience or its industry has changed and so it no longer has the desired effect. This is less of a ‘start-again’ and more of an update, an evolution. Working with a good base that they created at the beginning.

Re-brands are more necessary than you think.

If you look closely at the really successful brands of today, they do this all the time.

For example: Coca Cola.

Probably the most well-known, most easily recognised brand in the world. But did you know that throughout its lifetime it has adopted 50 different slogans and 12 different logos since its birth in 1886?

Yeah, me neither.

And by the looks of it, they’ve based their evolutions heavily on what’s working within their industry, with the adoption of their older 1905 logo after realising that their 1985 logo didn’t resonate well. It’s so important to listen to what works with your audience, and adapt accordingly.

These evolutions or ‘mini’ re-brands usually tweak one of the components of a brands personality, the tone of voice, the image, the output, rather than tweaking it all.

It’s a risk, and it can go horribly wrong, but sometimes it’s necessary to survive.

With extensive re-brands it’s highly likely that you’ll lose most of the brand equity or familiarity that you’ve built so far. With a full refresh you’ve got to realise that you’re essentially starting again. You’re completely recreating your brands personality and afterwards you’ll have to build back up the connections your brand made before.

For example, in 2001 when Royal Mail announced it would be rebranding as Consignia and we all thought “Consigni-what?!” At a cost of £1.5m to launch the new brand was deemed too long and complicated with BBC News shame-naming it a “howling waste of money”. Pretty dramatic.

A little over a year later Royal Mail decided to revert back to the original name and brand which cost them a further £1m.

So yes, it’s THAT risky, but sometimes it’s necessary to survive.

Because of this, the best action you can take is making sure your brand is created right the first time. To make sure its base is solid and it knows with absolute clarity, who it is. From that point on it’ll only have to evolve and adapt as it proceeds through it’s lifespan, as its environment changes and its audience grows with it.

And hopefully, with the right care and attention, your brand will be able to live forever.


Author: Megan Jones
Creative Lead