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Understanding The Four Types of Rebrands


Is your brand due for a tune-up? Or do you need to rebuild from the ground up? Perhaps your brand just needs to be re-energized. Cars, computers, phones, or anything else that requires on-going maintenance and care, requires periodic tune-ups. Brands are no different.

If a diagnostic determines there is a good reason to rebrand, the next question is what kind of a job is it going to be? Every rebrand has its own unique considerations that will determine the scope, process, budget and timing of the project. Meet your rebranding objectives by discerning what kind of undertaking it will be. Rebrands tend to fall into 4 general categories:


A re-image is a visual facelift of the brand expression.  It keeps the brand image current with its market segment without changes to the brand foundation.

Change, in today’s environment, is expected. Every year, the race is on to introduce new smart phones, car features, technology, services, and products. Change is expected.

Being new is what keeps customers interested and engaged.

Changes in products and services may be required to keep pace with the market, but these don’t necessarily alter who and what the brand is. Even if there are no changes to the offer, maintaining the perception that the brand is current, keeps it competitive.

The primary objective of the brand re-image is to reinforce perceptual change. Some of this can be accomplished through advertising. However, a brand identity update may be in order. This can be a minor adjustment or something that is a much more significant make-over.

GoDaddy‘s recent identity update was not driven by a change in who it is and what it does. It simply fine-tuned its logo to reflect a more mature and business-like tone. But it did not completely walk away from its quirky roots. It updated its image to look like a more credible resource and maintain perceptual competitive pace with the likes of competitors like Bluehost and iPage.


A tune-up updates and adjusts both brand strategy and expression. It acknowledges evolutionary changes to the brand intended to optimize brand performance.

A tune-up can effect both the foundational brand strategy as well as its brand image. The tune-up is as important to the internal brand culture as it is to the outward brand expression.

Brands need checkups to make sure they are operating at their best.

Keeping an eye on the actions of the company, compared to the vision and mission of the brand, helps guard against any disconnect with its long term strategy. The value proposition may need updating to keep ahead of the competition. The brand personality might require an adjustment to keep brand perceptions distinctive. Whatever foundational adjustments are adopted, they need to be reflected internally through the corporate culture and externally through brand expression.

MasterCard needed to make sure it is seen as a customer-centric and forward-thinking savvy company in the digital technology segment. It’s positioning required a tune-up. The result was a newly refined version of its identity.

The recast MasterCard design was intended to cement the idea of “connectivity” and “seamlessness”, one of Mastercard’s main brand messages. The translucency of the central orange colour also aimed to reflect a sense of “transparency” while all three colours are now lighter and brighter to convey “optimism.”1

MasterCard is one of many examples of brands that have undergone a brand tune-up that has been as meaningful to those within the organization as well as its customers.



A brand rebuild redefines what the brand stands for and the perceptions it seeks to own, through both expression and experience. A rebuild is typically a response to revolutionary changes in its business or market.

A rebuild is distinguished through a process of deconstruction and reconstruction. It is rethinking the brand from the ground up. It may not be a total departure from what the brand is, but it will be a significant enough change that it will likely not look or feel like the brand it once was.

A typical brand strategy platform is built on a brand foundation of vision, mission, and values. The strategic expression is driven through the value proposition, brand character and brand promise. All of these are inter-related to create one clear holistic definition of the brand. They shape the outward expression of and experience with the brand. They also serve to guide the internal brand culture of the organization. A change in any of these may have a profound effect on the entire brand.

The degree to which the vision and mission change will dictate the degree to which the brand, in its entirety, must change.

Foundational changes to the brand will likely require adjustments to the value proposition, brand character and promise. Change to the identity, and other forms of brand expression, will follow. The scope could be as much as it takes to create a new brand. However, a rebuild has the added complexity of protecting the brand equity and recognition of what it was, while embarking on a new direction.

AutoTrader UK went through a complete brand overhaul to overcome perceptions that it was a print-only automotive marketplace magazine for middle-aged men. While, in fact, it was the UK’s leading digital marketing resource for automobiles. The brand held 70% of the mobile market. It’s goal was to shift perceptions and rebuild the brand for the future and leave the past behind.

The new AutoTrader embodies a personality that reflects the business as it is, not as it was – and is evolving into something purpose-built for digital platforms”2


A reframe recasts the brand into something beyond what it has historically been perceived to be. This reflects and innovative approach to a brand growth strategy.

The reframe builds on or amends its foundation. However, it is not a replacement of it. It is an additive approach brand building.

Reframing a brand can manifest itself in many forms. In the case of Growth Brands (like an acquisition, merger, or product extension) the reframe can result in something entirely new. Adaptation Brands can also be subject to reframing if the intent is to expand the portfolio through new product lines.

Reframing can be an effective way to disrupt the category, or even serve to redefine the category. 

Hewlett Packard’s launch of Hewlett Packard Enterprise technology is an example of a brand growth strategy that reframed HP through the expansion of its new product/service offering.3

A new business enterprise was created to expand the market and reframe perceptions, building on the HP brand platform. It connects with different customer segments associated with the parent HP brand. The brand identity reflected this reframe, creating strong visual distinction that still achieved parent brand linkage through the Hewlett Packard name.


The type of rebrand that’s right for you probably doesn’t fit exactly into one of these categories. It will be a combination of factors that determines the scope and timing necessary to solve your unique rebranding problem. Don’t be surprised if you begin with one type in mind, only to find that you ultimately need another type of solution.

These different types are intended to point you in the right direction. They are simply indicative of what kind of undertaking you might encounter. Before changing anything, your best bet is to conduct a comprehensive investigation and analysis to fully understand the problem. Your long term BrandLife™ depends on it.

1MasterCard reveals new logo for the first time in 20 years. Design Week. 2Shifting perceptions of an iconic British motoring brand. Studio Output/Auto Trader 3Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 2018 Rebrand: 100 eest. REBRAND