rp Reacts: Best and Worst Brand Refreshes of 2023

This year has been chock-full of rebrands, so we wanted to take a minute to rewind and review. Some brand updates hit the mark, while others fell a bit flat. 

We asked our team for their two cents on the subject. Here are a few of their favorites and least favorites:

Nailed it

One of my favorites by far though was the ILM rebrand. It’s a perfect example of how something can be brilliantly updated and still feel like it was always meant to be this way.

- Drew Beamer, Associate Creative Director

I wasn’t as big of a fan of the Fanta refresh at first as I am now. After seeing it on OOH ads and in stores, it’s super recognizable at a distance, and I love how good they look on the shelf when there's a nice spectrum of Fanta in stock.

The Barbie branding was perfect. Seems like everyone involved, from the movie to the marketing, was passionate about this project because it all worked incredibly well and led to a massive success.

Made for Med kind of flew under the radar, but the logo is so clever, and the brand system feels warm and friendly in an often sterile industry.

Slurpee had a schnazzy refresh earlier this year and I even saw someone wearing new Slurpee merch out in the wild. If people are willing to pay your company to advertise for free, you’ve done something right.

Wolff Olins has been an agency crush of mine for a while and their new branding is lovely. I can’t get over that W.

- Spencer Watson, Senior Graphic Designer

Failed It

Definitely both Twitter and I❤️NY for the least favorite.

In the case of Twitter, when you pay $40+Bn for one of the top 5 most recognizable brand names in the world, it's just a bad idea to completely throw it in the dumpster. Even if Elon Musk wanted to make his new purchase into the "everything platform" he's talked about so much and he didn't think that the Twitter brand could support that, he should have done a Facebook/Meta thing and made X the parent company, keeping Twitter as the publicly facing front of the platform. Instead, he blew up the brand name, haphazardly rolled out the changes, and made a series of very public blunders. He took a dumpster fire and made it a dumpster inferno.

I❤️NY is kind of the same deal. I❤️NY is an iconic brand with decades of cache, which I suppose New York City looked at as being decades of cliche, and they changed it to a lopsided, bulbous, uninteresting design that takes the personal touch out of it. If I want to buy a silly souvenir, then I’ll probably not buy something that says "we" (and is ugly) because I am not the King of England and therefore don't run around referring to myself using the Royal We.

- Sterling Crawford, IT Operations Specialist

Twitter was a shit show for sure. Honestly I was sad to see the Johnson & Johnson change. I loved some of the thinking and agreed with a lot of it, but to see the script be replaced felt like a few years ago when luxury brands all started looking the same.

- Drew Beamer, Associate Creative Director

My first thought was actually how bland most brand refreshes are. With most of the examples, it’s easy to see the specific pain point the refresh addresses, such as working better in digital applications or chasing a market trend.

Perhaps it’s the X-factor—for good or bad, there’s no missing that rebrand.

- Karla Jackson, Marketing Practice Creative Director

Kind of seems like no one ❤️ NYC, but at least this means the next attempt won’t have such a tough act to follow!

I won't spend any time on the X brand because clearly no one else did.

- Spencer Watson, Senior Graphic Designer

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