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How to change visual identity without changing the logo

I understand both sides of this process. On the one hand, designers typically seek to overhaul a client’s brand, while clients often want to maintain the status quo.

Today, however, we will focus on the situation when we want to refresh the brand and its visual identification, without changing the logo itself.

Is it possible? Does this make sense? Can we still call it a rebrand? Or maybe we should use other terms such as “branding refreshment” or “refurbish”?

Regardless of the nomenclature, it is important to understand how it works and when you can use it.

It is worth highlighting three key aspects

  1. Your brand and branding probably doesn’t interest anyone much. This means that refreshing the brand will not cause much enthusiasm, but on the other hand, it should not bring negative reactions either. We may hear about spectacular rebranding mistakes made by large companies. However, in reality, especially on smaller scales, these changes are often less significant.
  2. Visual identity is much more than just a logo. It’s a whole system that influences how the brand is perceived. The logo is just one of many parts of it.
  3. Visual identity primarily facilitates internal communication within the organization, although it is also important externally. It improves communication processes, which allows it to be treated as an investment, not just a cost.

Now, to better understand how it works, let’s define the terms

  • Branding: The holistic process of combining verbal and visual communications to express what a brand stands for. It’s how a brand communicates its values and connects with the right audience.
  • Rebranding: The process of changing an entire brand, which can cover many aspects, including visual identity, logo, communications, and strategy. It doesn’t always require changing the logo.
  • Logotype: A specific graphic sign or symbol that represents a brand.

Four reasons not to change your logo

  1. It’s not worth it if you don’t know why you’re doing it: Brand changes should be justified. Consider whether what you need is just a minor tweak or a more sweeping change. It is crucial to understand the core reason for running your business and what goals you want to achieve.
  2. It’s not worth it if rebranding seems scary: Rebranding is a process that takes time, commitment and requires difficult decisions. If you are not ready for this, do not go anywhere near the visual identity.
  3. It’s not worth it if you don’t have internal buy-in: Brand changes must be accepted by both the marketing team and management. Lack of unanimity can be a problem.
  4. It’s not worth it if you don’t have the right budget: Rebranding is an expensive process that may include agency fees, implementation costs, and other expenses. Think about whether you can afford it financially.

What should we do if we want to make changes, but keep the logo intact?

  1. Take your time: Start when you have time for thorough preparation and thoughtful changes. You can start with the most important elements, such as internal materials, and collect feedback.
  2. Focus on the essentials: Start with the elements that have the greatest impact and can be changed relatively quickly.
  3. Conduct research and analysis: Communicate with employees, identify areas that need improvement, analyze touchpoints and change what really needs changing.
  4. Build a system: Start building a cohesive system that encompasses various elements of your brand. Test solutions, experiment, but stay consistent.

To round up

  • Changes in visual identity do not always have to include changes in the logo.
  • It is worth starting with a thorough identification of needs and implementing changes step by step.
  • Focus on what will bring the best results and change what is most needed.
  • Build a coherent system that will facilitate brand management in the future.


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