4 Ways to Know If It's Time to Change Your Design

How do you decide if it’s time to revamp your image?

How can you know if your website and visual branding is dated?

It’s easy to choose to change things on a whim, or ignore change completely. So how about a better method, a little litmus test to measure if it’s time to upgrade your look?

Here are four key indicators it’s time to think about a redesign (and this includes for any of your visuals: your business cards, your website, your brochures – we’re talking the visuals of your business).

1. Your business has grown

Look at you shine! Four years ago you started your fledgling biz with crossed fingers, a little money in the bank, and a whole lotta love and hope. And now? You’ve got orders coming in from Kazakhstan & China, and Donald Trump wants you on TV. (If this is you, let’s talk. Seriously. You need more this this article 😉

Or let’s just say you’ve become profitable, seen some great media exposure, and are so entrenched in running the day to day of your business that you haven’t stopped to step back and see the big picture.

That logo/website/card you graced with the world with when you began may no longer be servicing you. You could be playing too SMALL for your growth, and there’s a disconnect between your business’ growth and how your visuals represent you.

Maybe they were home grown (hey, you were smart in bootstrapping it) or done by the local print shop. If this describes your business, it’s a good time to assess whether your visual brand can better reflect your biggification.

2. Your products have changed

Say you began by selling cloth diapers, but gave that up for baby bottles instead. In this example, you may not need a visual upgrade. But what if your change was from a magazine on yoga for moms to organic baby food? If your visuals didn’t change, too, that’s going to be off brand for your business.

Does it really matter? It does. We make decisions about a company and products subconsciously in a matter of moments. Customers who value organic baby food have different needs and values than those who read a magazine on yoga for moms.

Although both customer circles include mothers and lifestyle-related values, the differences often end there. Do the visuals of your brand match their expectations?

3. Your market has changed.

As you and your business grow, so do your customers. We’re often in exploratory mode when we begin a new business. It’s normal to work it like you’re shooting darts until something sticks. During that process, you’re better defining your products, services, and offerings, and in doing so, you start to weed out some customers and attract others.

You may have initially thought your target market is young women in their 20s who couldn’t attend college, but over time found many of your customers are actually professional women in their 30s who work in the corporate world.

The visuals that attract a 20-something female who hasn’t attended college will differ from those corporate execs. Like changing products, there’s bound to be some crossover, but in this example, your visuals may feel too young, whimsical or feminine for the market you’ve grown into.

4. The world has changed (aka the 80s called and would like their jelly shoes back)

Remember the old Apple logo with the rainbow apple?

In 1998, after Steve Jobs returned to the company, the logo got a major revamp into what you see today:

The change reflected not only a changing company and product line, but a changing world.

The bright, solid color work of the 1980s was ditched in the 90s for gradients (the way the gray moves from dark to light), shine, and more muted palettes.

Part of this is a design TREND. And I’m not going to advocate you ever restructure your visuals on trends. But some of this reflects the changing values of the world: a move from industry into technology, for one and the move from an insulated society to an increasingly more global one.

Successful visuals won’t look dated. Consider the Nike Logo. That same swoosh has been rocking it since 1971. But though the logo has remained, Nike’s no doubt updated its sites, its promotions, even its shoe designs to change as the world changes.

Take a careful look at your visuals: everything from your logo, to the typography (fonts) you use, to your color work. Get a trusted business friend to take a look, too.

Does it look dated, and not in that intentional folksy vintage-revival-movement sort of way? Look at the world around you. Does your visual brand seem stuck in 1995?

A word of caution

Your visual brand doesn’t need to be revamped every year, or every time your business makes strides into a new market or product. One of my most successful clients hasn’t changed his visual brand in three years, and unless his brand values and products do a 180, it will serve him for years to come.

But look at whether your brand values, audience, and the world has significantly transformed since you got any design work done, and ask if what you have is still appropriate today.

When you do make a choice to change, make it for the right reasons, for strategic and educated reasons rather than emotional ones. A seasoned designer helps you work through your goals and strategy so that what you have doesn’t just look good, but it serves your business and market, too.

YOUR TURN: When did you have the visuals for your site or business done? Is it time for a change?

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Reese Spykerman

Website Designer at Reese Spykerman
Reese Spykerman does design and branding for businesses and blogs large and small. If you want to kick your website’s look up a notch to look more stylish and sophisticated, check out her fabulous new website headers.
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7 Comments

  1. Heather

    We recently underwent a design change on our website because we felt our old one was outdated and no longer properly reflected our brand. We do magazine advertizing and this is an area we often feel tempted to tweak and change our layout. Overall though I fight the urge to change it up too much. I think as business owners we tire of looking at our own stuff way before customers do because we are looking at it every day! Consistency for branding is important so unless it is broke. . . don’t fix it:). Thanks for your article, I think you covered several great reasons to consider!

    Reply
    • reese

      Hey Heather,

      Good points. The desire to keep changing design is a common one. I think when we’re talking about advertising, it’s a bit different approach than your primary brand style (e.g. logo, website, static/ongoing promotions).

      The advice I’d give in terms of advertising is when you make changes or switch out ads, still ask the question “does this feel ‘on brand’ for us? What is the purpose of this, and do the visuals and copy serve this purpose?” Your ad rotation strategy is often dictated by how long you’ve been exposed to a particular market, and whether you still need to make a brand impression and foothold with them. If the main goal of the ad is building brand awareness, then I would resist the urge to change it a lot.

      If it’s a market that’s more familiar with your products, the ad may serve a more specific purpose, such as a short-term promotion, and it may help to switch it up a bit. But beware here, too: you want to keep some familiar components from the prior ads (E.g. your logo, or use of white space, or layout) to help with trust. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Jenni

    Great advice! I used to change my blog design constantly. I guess it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted. I finally found something that I plan on sticking with for quite awhile. 🙂

    Reply
    • Reese Spykerman

      hey Jenni!
      Thanks for weighing in. Pretty common thing to change your design a lot–I’ve gone through it, too! What I like hearing is you reached a place where:

      1. you’re happy with it
      2. you see it working for your needs

      so you understand it’s good not to fuss with it until a ‘key’ change happens that would trigger that. Well done!

      Reply
      • Heather

        Excellent points Reese, thanks!

        Reply

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