As an experienced financial services marketing and communications professional, you recognize that your brand is foundational to your firm’s success. And you’ve worked hard to build your organization’s brand over the years. However, in a rapidly changing market, even the most thoughtfully designed brands eventually come due for an overhaul.

If your brand no longer puts your firm’s best foot forward, you might assume that a rebrand is in order. Of course, we don’t have to tell you how expensive, logistically complex and time-consuming a project of that scale can be.

The good news? It’s possible to completely refresh your brand without ever changing your logo. By renovating the assets in your communication toolkit, you can avoid taking on a costly rebrand while at the same time reshaping your audience’s perception of your firm.

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What Does a Financial Services Brand Refresh Entail?

It depends.

A brand refresh can touch on one or two isolated elements of a brand’s visual or written expression. Or it can impact the entire brand infrastructure and communications toolkit from top to bottom.

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Because there is so much variation, a brand refresh can be relatively subtle—or it can be as transformative as a full rebrand. For example, if all you do is select a new set of understated fonts for improved readability, you’ll refine your brand without making a big splash. But if you change your fonts, colors and messaging, you’ll make a much bigger impact.

Depending on your particular goals, a brand refresh may include new or updated:

  • Positioning
  • Messaging
  • Color palette
  • Fonts
  • Imagery (such as a distinctive approach to photography or illustration)
  • Motion elements
  • Grid or page layout
  • Website, microsite, and/or social media profiles

What are the Benefits of a Brand Refresh?

A brand refresh (as opposed to a full rebrand) can be appealing for a number of reasons. These include:

  • High brand impact at a lower investment
  • Faster project timeline
  • The ability to gradually test or pilot a new positioning or brand attribute without going “all in” right away
  • The ability to refresh your brand without ditching a high-equity logo

And, as with a rebrand, a brand refresh represents an opportunity to express your brand more consistently and improve operational efficiencies, too.

How to Efficiently Refresh Your Financial Services Brand

Ready to revitalize and modernize your financial services brand? Start with the following steps.

Identify Your Underlying Objectives

Whether you opt for a brand refresh or a full-on rebrand, your first order of business is to identify your objectives. What underlying problem do you hope to address by evolving your brand? For example, you might want to:

  • Refocus or refine your firm’s positioning
  • Bring your brand in alignment with your existing positioning
  • Diversify your offerings, enter a new market, or reach a new audience
  • Reduce brand fragmentation and create a more cohesive brand experience
  • Remedy a reputation problem
  • Modernize your brand’s look
  • Differentiate your firm from competitors

As always, your firm’s point of differentiation and strategic objectives should inform all of your branding decisions. A brand refresh often suffices in addressing concerns like the ones listed above. But there are times when it makes more sense to do a full-on rebrand, including a new logo.

When in doubt, work with your design partner to make a smart, informed decision that’s right for your firm.

Audit Your Existing Communications Assets

Once you’ve settled on a brand refresh strategy, your next step is to audit your existing communications assets. This gives you a full understanding of your communications portfolio and serves as your starting point in your brand refresh project. As you take stock of your existing communications, make note of what is and isn’t working. Be methodical in identifying what you want to change and how.

In addition, be sure to talk with your communications staff. They can tell you what their current challenges are in expressing your existing brand. For example, if your current brand program doesn’t include guidelines for a number of common use cases, your brand cohesion may be degraded.

Prioritize High-Impact Assets

If you want to drive the most impact with a streamlined budget, focus on your most visible assets. Obviously, this will include your website. But you may also want to focus on more ephemeral assets, such as business cards and PowerPoint presentations, that you regularly update each year. A savvy designer can help you determine which assets to prioritize to make the most of your budget.

Update Your Brand Guidelines

Don’t forget to update your brand guidelines to reflect your updated brand. Take care to document all of your known use cases so that your marketing and communications teams don’t resort to decentralized problem-solving.

The Right Design Partner Can Guide You

A brand refresh is a step down from a rebrand in terms of project complexity and cost, but it still represents a major effort. To get it right, you’ll need to collaborate with a seasoned and effective design partner—one who can guide you in making the right strategic and aesthetic choices.

At Decker Design, we regularly lead financial services firms like yours in refreshing and revitalizing their brands. And with our strategy-driven approach, we do so in a way that supports and elevates your unique positioning.

Take our work with Blackstone, for example. After acquiring a number of different organizations, this global firm needed to integrate their brand into a single, centralized and robust entity. Our brand refresh included new fonts and a new color palette as well as a new grid and page layouts. More than that, we worked closely with the organization to ensure that the new brand guidelines were robust enough to handle all of the many use cases (especially related to data presentation).

As we onboarded Blackstone’s team to the new brand guidelines, we held weekly “charrettes,” or design reviews, with their internal communications team. In doing so, we were able to further strengthen Blackstone’s brand guidelines and improve their internal operations to achieve a more efficient communications output. The results are clear: After completing the brand refresh, Blackstone has seen a 100% increase in audience engagement, a 50% reduction in the number of revision rounds prior to finalizing assets—and a higher quality brand that portrays a more unified presence.

Want to learn more about how Decker Design can help your financial services firm take its brand to the next level? We’d love to talk.

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