When is it time to rebrand?

I first talked about the difference between a logo and a brand. If you haven’t read it already…check it out HERE.

With that knowledge…
Over my decades as an art director and freelance designer, I have boiled down the FOUR-ish major times that I have ran into when businesses chose to rebrand. Do you fall into any of these?

1. Your current _ _ _ _ no longer reflects your vision

What’s in a n a m e?

Wasn’t Shakespeare right? That the flower’s name didn’t make it smell sweet…so in turn the logic is that names don’t matter. Well, this might change your mind. Did you know that Google’s original name was BackRub.

No joke. Back. Rub.

According to Stanford’s David Koller, and Google’s own website, Page and Brin’s 1996 foray into the world of search engines was initially called “BackRub.” (Pause for judgement.)

They called it this because the program analyzed the web’s “back links” to understand how important a website was, and what other sites it related to.

So BackRub operated on Stanford’s servers until it eventually took up too much bandwidth in or around 1997. That’s when Page seems to have decided that the BackRub name just wasn’t good enough.  According to Koller, Page and his officemates at Stanford began to workshop different names for the search engine technology, names that would evoke just how much data they were indexing. The name “Google” actually came from fellow graduate student, Sean Anderson, who suggested the word “googolplex” during a brainstorming session, while Page countered with the shorter “googol.”

Is Googol even a word? Actually, yeah! It’s a digit started by a 1 and then followed by 100 zeroes. FUN FACTS: a googolplex is a 1 followed by a googol zeros (drop that knowledge at your next dinner party).   

So with a “GOOGOL” in hand, Anderson went to check if that domain name was taken, but accidentally searched for “google.com” instead of “googol.com.” Turns out, Page liked that name even better, and registered the domain name for Brin and himself on September 15, 1997. And the rest they say is history.

ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE SIGHTING: So if Larry Page and Sergey Brin hadn’t had the foresight to change Google’s original name, we’d all have BackRub as our browser’s default home page and our emails would be @backRub.com — SO WEIRD!

But I digress….whatever the reason, you shouldn’t let your brand’s NAME or ICON be a drag on the brand itself. A strong name or logo design is the foundation of your brand story. It’s your moniker, your bat signal. It is the touchpoint your customer engages with every time they buy or engage with you. And your brand’s name and/or logo should be unique, differentiating, and, above all, memorable.

I, of course, specialize in the VISUAL icon creation of your brand, but if you do decide to rename, try this 5 step process from Ignyte Brands that I share with my clients and students.

Make your m a r k (or l o g o).

Ok…let’s say you have a great and I mean GREAT business name. There is no changing it EVER. It’s perfect. But how is that LOGO, though?

Some of the greatest companies have had TERRIBLE logos and have rebranded with great success. Take FedEx.

I very much remember the rebranding of FedEx in the early 90’s — even to my untrained creative Junior-high aged eye — I knew this was purple and orange evolution was magic. I didn’t have the language to it back then, but now I can talk about the cleanliness and legibility in this sans serif font choice. I can unpack the complimentary color choice on white background is simplicity at it’s best. And what I didn’t know then, but we all know now, was we had the most gorgeous example of subliminal design in the 20th century on our front stoops via THAT ARROW! Bageeez.

Insert a chef’s kiss here.

A rebranding or a brand refresh can push you forward as a brand leader in your industry…and can turn your name in a verb. Google it, so I can FedEx it. Then, I’ll Uber to the restaurant…and later I will Venmo you.

2. It’s time to go from antiquated to UPGRADED

You ‘member Quark? It was a layout program that was THE coolest thing during the 90’s. You ‘member Flash? That was the most sophisticated animation program once upon a time (in the early 2000’s). Not that MOST folks are still running on logos or brand elements that are THAT old, but I think you get my point. Technology moves forward…and sometimes with the technology move, you gotta update your logo with it.

The most up to date logos are built as VECTORS. Yeah! Vectors as in MATH!

They are built in Adobe Illustrator so they have file extensions like “.eps” or “.ai.” These file types exclusively can scaled from being as small as a business card all the way up to as large as a billboard without losing resolution (cough-cough….don’t-design-logos-in-Photoshop-AKA-pixels-or-screen-resolution).

They also USUALLY have no more than 4 BRANDED colors, so they are flexible to print in more than one platform as COST EFFECTIVELY as possible. Have ever tried to get a 20 color logo printed on promo materials? NIGHTMARE!

3. You’re trying to connect with a NEW! audience

Today it’s everyone from Boomers to Gen Z. Tomorrow will it be Gen Alpha? Zoomers? What will that make me? Will I still be a Millennial?

No matter if it is present you or future you, if you’re trying to pivot your focus onto a new…AKA younger…audience, it might be a good time to rebrand. A rebranding project allows you to incorporate motivations, preferences, needs, and buying habits of the customers you would like to be talking to and adjust your brand experience accordingly. Because the last thing a savvy young persona profile wants to do is associate itself with the “old school” brands of their parents — ew. That is NOT “fire.”

4. Your business is looking to expand

Rebranding is not a sign that things are going wrong…sometimes it shows things are going RIGHT.

PICTURE THIS: your business is doing great, you have just opened ANOTHER successful location, or maybe you expanded your product line to a the latest big thing and it’s selling faster than artisanal organic hotcakes. Now you need strong, new internal team members to help keep this momentum going…and keep your business at this next level. Might be time for a rebrand.

Why? With all that success going on. Isn’t that a hat on a hat?
No, strong candidates are tech savvy and brand aware…and if they are THAT talented and desirable candidates, they will have their pick of the companies they work for or with — because interviews are TWO way streets (they are interviewing you too!). Does your company LOOK like a place they want to work?

But wait! I don’t have a budget for a new employee!

It still could be time for a rebrand.

Why? A rebranding can be a great way to hone company values and align teams for your mission, vision, and goals — especially if you are growing folks’ responsibility (and hopefully their salary) ranges. Folding in those same CORE team members — those ones who contributed to this new found success(es) — as contributors to the rebranding process can give them not only a platform to (possibly) streamline (antiquated) processes, but also can make your hardworking internal team feel like they have skin in this company’s game, are a a part of what the vision looks like moving forward, and breathe new energy into their work(s).


These are just a few instances (or anecdotes) of where other businesses were inspired to rebrand and/or hire me. Not that there weren’t other stories I could have told…they were just not as common, in my agency and freelance experience. I have rebranded companies after the housing bubble, after the pandemic, even after there was a company merger once. I even rebranded a company so they could SELL it — we approached it like how you do those updates those small household updates and paint your walls beige when you want to sell your house. There are all kinds of reasons why one might want to think about rebranding.

But if you are still wondering if you are at a place to rebranding…my suggestion would be to interview a few folks.

  • Your best clients or your most common customers
    Do they feel like your icon or logo reflects their experience when they work with you?
  • One employee from every rank of your organization.
    Asking just your C-level folks will only give you one vision, but asking your admins, your sales folks, etc. might give you some much needed perspective.
  • A few (two to three) design professionals.
    Asking a few graphic designers or design firms for an audit of your branding might shine a light on things only an OUTSIDER set of eyes might see. Also this audit might be something as simple as an hour’s interview with them or a full research presentation about options and budgets. But the great thing is an audit is not a commitment to taking on a full rebranding project. They are just OPTIONS.

The power…and your branding…is yours.