Good branding lies at the foundation of any good marketing campaign. It's what defines your business's identity and character, and what underlines any messages you convey to your audience. One of the most important fundamentals in marketing is to keep your brand consistent--doing so will breed familiarity and trust, and help users identify or differentiate you from your competitors no matter what channel you're using to communicate.

However, there's a time when that consistency needs to break. Brands can grow stale or tired, or suffer from improper execution to the point where there's no real hope for recovery. In these cases, you'll need to give your brand a makeover--taking what works from the old brand and reimagining it for a new audience and new applications. But how can you tell if your brand is truly ready for such a drastic change?

1. You Aren't Sure What Your Brand Is Like

Ask yourself what your current brand standards are. You probably know your company logo and tagline, but what characteristics does your brand possess? If your brand were a human being, what would his/her personality be like? What is your voice like, and how is it different than your competitors? These qualities can be lost over time, and they might not have been originally established. If you can't answer these questions, it means your brand has lost its original standards (or that there never were any). That's a pretty good reason to pursue a new round of branding.

2. You've Deviated From Your Original Vision

If you're able to answer the above question and describe all the qualities of your brand, consult your brand standards document (assuming you have one). Does your impression of your brand meet what's outlined? If not, it means one of two things: either your brand has strayed from the original vision, or there's a disconnection in your department. Either way, your brand isn't all that it could be, and establishing some new standards as a group is a good way to fix that.

3. Your Growth Has Stagnated

Take a look at your company growth over the past few years. Has it been sagging or stagnating? Have your customers been less engaging, or have you noticed a drop in your impact in marketing campaigns? A new brand isn't always the answer to these problems, but it can help you rejuvenate new interest in your company. Consider using it as a tool to generate new interest and growth.

4. You Haven't Updated in Several Years

All brands, even classic standbys, must undergo branding changes from time to time. If it's been more than a decade since you last updated your brand or even considered changing it, it could be time to take a look. It's not a good idea to update a brand just for the sake of updating it--there are some decades-old logos and brand standards still in circulation today. But addressing an older, unchanged brand from a critical angle will help you determine whether or not the time's right for a change.

5. You're Undergoing Major Changes in Other Areas

If your company is offering a new product, a new service, or has started to expand in new industries or areas of business, it could be a perfect time to update your brand. You want your customers to know who you are at a glance, so incorporating these new angles into your brand is a must. Your brand should be your company's greatest single identity, so if your company is changing, your brand should too.

How to Go About It

Revitalizing your online brand doesn't have to be a dramatic overhaul, though it can be. Any change, from a simple tweak of the colors of your logo to a complete rebuilding from the ground-up, can be a positive step toward greater customer familiarity and stronger, more cohesive marketing campaigns. To get started:

  • Identify your major goals. Are you trying to cater to a different demographic or push people toward a new wing of your business? Or are you just trying to spark up new interest in your brand? This will dictate how much of a change and what kind of change you'll need.
  • Establish your new brand tenets. Spend some time listing all the new qualities you want to see in your brand--think visuals, voice, and character.
  • Come up with a plan for execution. Are you going to redesign your website and announce your new brand in style, or gradually layer your new brand standards in with your old materials to soften the blow to your customers?
  • Work with a professional. Don't try to rebrand your company by yourself. If you have a marketing or design department, work with them to come up with a plan. Otherwise, work with a professional marketing company to help you accomplish your goals. This isn't an area you want to skimp on, as it's going to define your company for years to come.

It's important to keep your branding consistent, but there are times when an overhaul is warranted. Depending on how much of an overhaul you're planning, you can think of it as cutting your losses or simply evolving your brand for a new generation. As with anything in marketing, be sure to test your new brand before releasing it to the public, and keep a close eye on your metrics as the reveal is made.