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When is the right time to rebrand?

One of the toughest questions for everyone responsible for ‘the brand’, deciding when to rebrand is a delicate balancing act, says Coley Porter Bell ECD James Ramsden

When brands we trust either refresh or completely re-invent their identity and expression system, it’s often a sign of the brand’s ambition to get back on its feet and re-establish a leadership position. We have seen this happen across almost every industry – from the recent rebrands in food chains, to the fashion and retail industry, and the momentous change we’ve seen from the auto and mobility industry over the past decade.

The impact of a change of brand often triggers other brands in the category to follow. When a leading brand refreshes its expression, it inspires its competitors to revitalise their identities. (After all, what brand wants to be left behind?)

But what drives change is often much more complex than a brand leading and others following. There are many expressions that define a brand refresh, from evolving its strategy to adapting its user and digital experience, re-orientating its retail environment, training people, and more. So for the sake of simplicity and clarity, here I am writing about when brands change their identity and their expression.


People choose brands they trust, brands that share their values, ideas, and even politics, and to achieve this, brands must remain relevant. And just like people, for brands to be relevant they must be well-informed, keep up with the times and be prepared to change.