When Brands Refresh: The Good, the Bad and the Truly Awful

Slide Nine’s own creative team certainly felt a mix of emotions over some of the brand refreshes of 2023. Here’s our take on the good, the bad and the truly awful from last year’s redesigns. 

By: Wesleigh Mowry, Chris Coe and Cris Valle

When HBO Max rebranded to Max earlier this year, the internet was understandably perplexed. The question on everyone’s—especially design experts’—minds: Why drop the memorable HBO for a more generic name? 

“HBO took four decades of prestige and casually tossed it all into a dumpster, lit a match, and cheered as it burned,” said designer and brand consultant Debbie Millman in Fast Company.

Strong words over a streaming platform icon. Which also begs the second question: Why do we care about brand refreshes so much?  

Different from a full rebrand, a brand refresh is when a company updates their identity to realign with their strategy, rather than starting from scratch. Think of a rebrand as doing renovations and changing the siding of the house instead of bulldozing and building a whole new structure from the ground up. And, similar to seeing your childhood home overhauled for curb appeal, brand refreshes can elicit a strong reaction from consumers. 

“Most people have an emotional connection to brands, especially those with a long-standing history and reputation,” said Scott Hancock of BLVR in Print Mag. “In these cases, the design isn’t just a design—it’s a symbol of memories and nostalgia. When it changes, it disrupts this emotional connection. People may feel like a part of their history and identity is being taken away, which can create a sense of confusion and even anger.” 

Slide Nine’s own creative team certainly felt a mix of emotions over some of the brand refreshes of 2023. Here’s our take on the good, the bad and the truly awful from last year’s redesigns. 

The Good: Soft Drinks 

A lot of soda brands updated their looks in 2023—enough to prompt the article Why are so many soft drinks rebranding? from Creative Bloq (TL;DR: to stand out from the crowd in a time of economic uncertainty). Bright, bold and retro looks are taking over the soft drink cooler. 

“These rebrands have been successful because they kept what worked and enhanced the elements that needed help, like the typography. Introducing the long shadows to the packaging makes it dynamic in a fun and modern way.”

— Cris Valle, Senior Graphic Designer

The Bad: X (formerly Twitter) 

Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media giant has changed its brand dramatically, and updating the name and logo was a bold move. Our team is not a fan. 

“Changing the familiar bird icon that had become shorthand for the entire app to a generic ‘x’ drained all the life out of the brand. The fact that so many customers still refer to it by its original name or format it as X (formerly Twitter) proves that this refresh was not successful. The previous Twitter brand was so established that proprietary language like ‘tweets’ were part of our everyday vernacular, and the move to X squashed all of that brand equity.”

— Wesleigh Mowry, Senior Graphic Designer

The Truly Awful: We ♥️ NYC logo

For reasons our team will never understand, NYC decided to modernize legendary designer Milton Glaser’s iconic “I ♥️ NY” logo for 2023. To quote our resident Slide Nine New Yorker, Chris Piedmont: “Well, this is just trash.” 

“Floating up like a bad Valentine’s Day balloon, the logo for New York City’s new branding campaign fell a bit flat with folks in March of this year. And the feedback on social media was swift and unforgiving: 

‘How much did this atrocity cost?’


As a designer I was disappointed that the new mark paid no credence to the revered ‘I ♥️ NY’ logo design by the brilliant Milton Glaser. Beyond that, there was nothing interesting nor notable about it at all. Sometimes it’s best not to mess with success.”

— Chris Coe, Creative Director

What brands are going to refresh in 2024? We’re waiting with bated breath.