Rebranding an icon

If you’re going to rebrand it should be for a good reason – a change in business offering, or when combining separate business or brand entities. A rebrand is serious business, because effectively you’re changing what you stand for in the marketplace – so it should only be considered if your core business itself has changed. 

NZ Post’s rebrand is a perfect example of purpose-led design, communicating a shift in their business offering. They had been facing a complete disruption to their core business, and with it – customer confusion around their courier and postal services. They needed to consider repositioning and rebranding to house Courier Post, Pace and Rural Post under the one roof and brand architecture. So it just made good business sense for NZ Post to rebrand.

To rebrand or not to rebrand

But let’s be clear, a rebrand should never be considered because you, your team or a member of your board is sick of your brand colours, typeface or logo. In fact, if you are seeing your brand colours everywhere – that’s a great thing. It means you are consistently building brand awareness. 

Famously, Veuve Clicquot engaged with a leading brand strategist to rebrand their popular champagne, because they were sick of the colour yellow. The answer they got – a flat no! It was suggested they change the branded screen savers if they were sick of the colour scheme, rather than throw away one of the most recognisable brand colours on the liquor shelf. Good thinking.

A brand refresh

Brands and their customers do evolve over time, however, and it’s important your brand reflects this change. Different to a rebrand, a brand refresh allows you to keep the important visual cues for your brand, whilst improving brand visibility to meet the needs of the market. 

Visual cues

We take in and store information visually before we commit any time into reading information. Visual cues are all the things that surround your brand, helping customers identify it’s you. So that’s your colours, fonts, image style, icons and graphic devices , which all come together to help your brand become ‘sticky’ in the client/customer mind. 

More than a logo, your visual cues make up your brand ‘voice’, so it’s crucial that all elements are carefully developed, because that’s how customers will identify you. Looking at the NZ Post example, they’ve landed somewhere between a rebrand and a refresh. A new logo design was created, whilst keeping some of the visual cues of the old brand, so as not to loose brand equity in the transition. 

Let’s break it down further…

The new NZ Post logo uses a navy blue as its main colour, alongside a dash of their classic postal red. Interestingly, the colour red is used by many competitors in the courier service space. NZ Post’s choice to use blue as its primary colour helps it to stand out in the crowd, especially as the world moves away from the traditional letter and leans more heavily towards online courier deliveries.

The redesign of the logo echoes the colour change – gone is the single envelope, replaced by a ‘P’. The new design, with simplified typeface, has purpose – it represents a van delivering post (be it a letter or a parcel).


The shift to a sans-serif logotype is a nod to a more contemporary look for the brand – moving away from italics, with the ‘Post’ of NZ Post now bolded. This allows for the name to appear as one word, which is shorter and more dynamic. The new font choice is easy to read and distinguishable from competitors, which is key to any successful branding.

New Zealand Post has shortened its title to NZ Post, which reiterates the fact their business is being simplified into the one place to go for all postal queries.

This is a great example of how to rebrand a logo whilst keeping a link with the old brand’s heritage, in this case with the use of the familiar and identifiable postal red. We can see this is a rebrand backed by strategy. 

It’s good to remember that if there isn’t a strategic reason for a rebrand then maybe your budget is best spent elsewhere. In most cases a rebrand is unwarranted. A brand refresh is a less glamorous option, but often the better choice, so that you can retain the strength and awareness of your brand. And of course, at the end of the day, connect consistently and effectively with your customer.

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