Refresh or Rebrand: What’s Right for Your Restaurant’s Brand?

Brand Refresh versus Rebrand for Restaurants

So, your restaurant’s brand has fallen into a bit of a slump. Don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost—the first step to solving the problem is admitting you have one.

When you need to liven up your restaurant brand, you have many options. Whether it’s time for a refresh or a total rebrand, we’re here to help. Below we’ll navigate the difference between the two and how to determine which one you might need.

What Is a Brand Refresh?

Sometimes, a total overhaul isn’t the answer. Some small tweaks can make big waves and bring customers back to your brand. When it’s time for a brand refresh, you’ll need to update the elements of your restaurant brand, not replace them entirely. Brand refreshes are great ways to bring your brand into a new era or fine-tune brand elements that you’re not as happy with.
Take, for example, Subway’s hugely successful brand refresh. While your restaurant brand’s refresh doesn’t need to be as extensive or expensive (Subway’s came with an $80 million price tag across its 26,000 U.S. locations), it’s a great way to visualize what a brand refresh means versus a full rebrand. The brand elements behind Subway are still there: you’ll still find encouragements to eat fresh, make healthy choices and fully customize your sandwich when you walk in. Now, you’ll find refreshing Agua Frescas adjacent to the soda machines to pair with your entree and menu boards laden with a sleek reimagining of the classic green and yellow logo. Customers don’t feel like they’re walking into a new restaurant—just a newer, brighter and better version of the place they’ve always loved.

What Is Rebranding?

While brand refreshes can work wonders when executed in the right situations, sometimes it’s time to bring out the big guns. Rebranding can be a longer and costlier process than a brand refresh, but can give your restaurant brand a clean slate. Bigger alterations, like name changes, new logos and new messaging make up rebranding efforts.

Where Subway sought out smaller changes to boost stagnant sales, McDonald’s needed something bigger. Following the hit documentary “Super-Size Me,” their brand identity was slipping out their control as the public associated them with unhealthy eating and health issues like never before. Rebranding efforts to reverse this perception, like the introduction of more healthy menu options, redesigned restaurant interiors that “look like Starbucks” and new ads that feature happy, healthy families and young people increased sales and gave McDonald’s control over its brand identity again.

When Do You Need to Rebrand?

Think it’s time to make some big changes to your restaurant brand? You might be onto something. Rebranding is the move to make when you want customers to feel something new and different when they walk into the restaurant. Perhaps you’re repositioning—if you’ve been known for your ice cream for 30 years, and you’re trying to show the world how awesome your food options are, maybe it’s time to incorporate burgers and fries into the logo and a new name. Maybe some recent events have decreased your brand value and the world is ready to see your new and improved restaurant brand in a new light.

If you’re looking to totally reimagine some (or all) elements of your restaurant brand, a rebranding might be just what you need.