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When is it necessary to change the branding image?

Design level refreshments become very critical, but why do leading companies in their areas do it?

When is it necessary to change the branding image?

To talk about an image change or refresh first we must understand what branding is and how it is composed. Besides, it's important to have a clear concept of visual identity, that sometimes tends to generate controversy since it is judged only for the aesthetic way and the rational part of the design is left aside. There must be a balance between the two in order to obtain a more accurate judgment of reality. This will help to understand that to change the branding image it's not a whimsical decision, but is based on a brand need. 

The brand must focus and take responsibility in providing a good service, producing or distributing products, creating communication, among others. This is directly involved by the branding, who is in charge of building and directing the brand. We have to understand that there are successful brands that don’t have good brand treatment, but those that do, have a broad advantage in terms of positioning and competences to name a few. 


It's so important to be clear that design is a tool used by brands to manage their need of visual identity, since it is where all the resources that are directly involved with graphic materials are, for instance the logo, fonts, color palettes, graphic resources, among others. It is a mistake to think that branding only affects visual identity, we could say that visual identity is a consequence of branding, since branding is focused on the brand concept, the positioning, the environment of the company, its target audience, the approach to communication, the competition and more. Among them the visual identity.

There are different levels of refreshes in design that can be made to the visual identity of a brand. These levels depend on the amount of changes that the visual identity undergoes. But since every brand is different, the changes can be minimal or very abrupt. 

There are more subtle and almost imperceptible refreshments for people. These changes usually help to give a slightly more actual image and work to correct or debug some imperfections that may exist in the visual identity.

We can mention Santander bank as an example. Corrections were made to the existing logo in order to have a better balance and readability. As well the recent refresh that was given to their Facebook page to differentiate it from the application. 

There are slightly more aggressive refreshments and these are usually more noticeable by people, here the visual identity is refined a little more but there is no abrupt change in the brand and they maintain the same elements

For example, the refreshing of the BBVA, Volkswagen and Yahoo logos. These also made changes in other aspects of visual identity such as fonts and color palettes (more updated) that benefit the brand. These changes also kept elements and graphic figures typical of each brand. There was no strong break in any element.

The most abrupt changes are where there is already a breakdown of weights and figures, almost that a new visual identity emerges. Their logo changes, their typography is updated until they can even do without some words in their name. 

An example might be the logo of the Premier League and Animal Planet. These have the peculiarity that they transformed elements. The case of the Premier League logo where the lion figure and the soccer ball were unified in a more iconic and current way. In the case of Animal Planet: The isotype of the elephant was added and the typography was completely changed and also, it was placed in lowercase when the previous logo used capital letters.

When should you go into changing a branding image? The answer to this question is the brand. There are external factors that can make a change of direction to the brand. To mention a few examples: The case of BBVA in wanting to communicate or transition to an advanced positioning and the concept of opportunity. This change was also affected in its brand identity, refreshing a logo, a color palette and different fonts that accompany this change.


Recently, leading companies have opted to refresh their brand and this occurs for different reasons both internal to the brand, for example a change of direction with another philosophy or values, or external changes that could be updates, migrating to digital spaces, competition issues, latest trends and more. The possibilities are so many that they vary greatly from the type of product or company.


Changes are positive when they are executed in a proper and responsible way. Perhaps many scandals that exist in the refreshes of visual identity focused on logos are due to the incongruity of the concept related to the brand, even with the strokes that in a sense can be seen wrong or with little grace. That is why each change that is made must have two key points: be well justified and have "appeal".


Allan Fallas