It’s Perfect! Let’s Change It!

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Illustration detailing the logo evolution of Apple, IBM and Starbucks with a humorous prediction of future logo incarnations playing on the trend towards simplification in logo redesign.

A logo is the symbolic representation of a company, and a successful logo imparts the philosophy and ideals that a business stands for.  Once a company is branded and its logo is sent out into the consumer world as its representative, people associate that logo with the products or services that the company offers.  The logo becomes recognizable and viewing it elicits feeling of trust, reliability and familiarity in the consumer.  Over time, a relationship between the customer and the brand develops and seeing the logo in action feels like seeing an old friend.  But, as with actual relationships, after enough time, the connection may weaken and feelings might fade.  The consumer may experience a wandering eye and be drawn towards a new and flashier friend.  So, the company must undergo some alteration in appearance to become visually appealing again and regain those lost feelings in the consumer. That’s where logo redesign comes into play.

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An example of subtle logo redesign by Del Monte.  The thinning of the yellow outline around the red tomato and changing the stem color from yellow to green make the symbol more recognizable as a tomato.  In addition, the letters have been thinned and are more clearly spaced, while the reduction of shading and the removal of the green outlining around the letters improves legibility.  Reducing the size of the letters made space for the insertion of the phrase “garden quality” which reinforces the company’s dedication to delivering high standard goods.

 

Although reestablishing presence is a major motive for a logo redesign, there are numerous other reasons why a company may decide to alter its brand representation.  Firstly, as a business, it is important to maintain an edge over the competition and updating appearance is one way to gain attention.  Another possibility is due to customer consideration.  Consumers are visual creatures and as our tastes and styles evolve, we expect our products to change with us.  When a company shows its progression, it lets us know that the company respects our ever-changing interests and wants to journey forward with us.  Additionally, a company may feel obligated to update its look to denote a change within the company itself.  Perhaps it is under new leadership and wants a fresh image to reflect this, or it may be releasing a new line of products and wants to draw attention to this development.  A redesign may also occur due to technical issues involving the old logo.  As technology advances, many designs cannot be properly accommodated across the spectrum of devices available and a logo must be appear consistently in all media representations.  Of course, a company may also consider refreshing its appearance simply because the current logo is older and feels outdated.

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A comparison of the old Instagram logo in black and the new version in blue.  The original wordmark utilized Billabong typeface while the redesign consists of a custom drawn font.  Alternations retained the recognizable script look and quirky feel while improving readability and flow of the script.

Clearly, logo redesign is a necessity and as such, it occurs quite often.  Many times the redesign is quite subtle; lettering may appear cleaner and more distinct, or colors are brightened and shapes are slightly modified. When you seen the logo again, it may look newer or refreshed.  As a brand is built over time and a company is more strongly associated with its logo symbol, it becomes easier for a company to undergo a more intensive logo overhaul without risking the loss of brand stability or a possible decrease in popularity among consumers. Thus, many redesigns involve simplifying the logo or focusing on the most identifiable elements of the brand.

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences logo representation is typically altered every year for the Academy Awards.  This marks the first time that the Academy will attempt to brand itself with an official logo.  Distinctive differences between last year’s incarnation and the new logo include a change in light source and the utilization of a triangular shape to house the renowned Oscar statue.  Combined, the statue and the shape create the letter A with a clever use of negative space.

Regardless of the amount of alteration made, companies must use great care when redesigning a logo.  Because the logo is the distinguishing factor of the brand, it must remain recognizable and maintain its essence and meaning.  In addition, the updated logo must retain consistency; colors, styles and symbols that have always been identified with a brand cannot be greatly altered or the association between company and brand representation will be lost.  Many unsuccessful logo redesigns were the result of oversimplification, and this is another pitfall that companies must take care to avoid.  Excessive deconstruction of a logo symbol could result in a loss of meaning and may sever the previous emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.

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Evolution of the Pepsi logo including a designer’s illustrated opinion of the most recent logo redesign which was not well received publicly. 

 

However, no amount of work put into a logo redesign can predict its success and no company can correctly calculate how its redesigned logo will be received by the public. Fickle consumer attitudes and resistance to change combined with the irrational emotional attachment that brand identity creates means that altering customer expectations can easily backfire.  Many logo redesigns undertaken by established brands have been outright rejected or hated by consumers.   Some companies have tried to alleviate this response with slower logo evolution produced in stages.  Others, horrified by the backlash have hurriedly replaced the redesign with the previously beloved logo.

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Logo redesign for the MasterChef cooking competition.  When viewed by itself, the old logo seemed adequate, but when compared to the newer version, the font style of the previous version feels dated. The M symbol created from a stove coil benefits from the improved spacing, while adding height to the M gives it a cleaner appearance.

In other cases, when the logo redesign is successfully received by the public, the consumer feels pleased with the result and trust in the brand is reestablished.  Staying with the brand and the newly updated logo makes the customer believe that he is modern and keeping up with the trends; the customer feels that he too has undergone a renewal of sorts when he selects his faithful brand with its new logo.  So, an effective redesign reaffirms the consumer’s belief in the brand because it shows that the company capably predicted what the consumer needed before he even became aware of or verbalized this need. Thus, the emotional bond is deepened and the customer’s loyalty increases.

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Redesign of logo for social media games developer, King. Dropping the “.com” and leaving the name King to stand alone provides a bold message which is reinforced by the use of the top line of the K which acts as a crown.  The jaunty, angled script and bold, glossy letters give it a fun appearance and result in a logo which complements the products offered while remaining easily recognizable.

Logo redesigns seem like compulsory gambling; there’s no way for a company to ensure success, but it’s something that must be done if a company wants to maintain its status in the consumer world.  A wrong roll of the dice can result in wasted money and consumer dissatisfaction, or even a loss of loyal customers. On the other side of the coin, a company may improve its image, maintain customer loyalty and increase consumer interest.  Whatever the outcome, logo redesign is a game that companies are compelled to play.

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The Reebok logo redesign includes the introduction of a new symbol to represent the brand called the Delta symbol. Reebok states that the three parts of its Delta symbol represent the physical, mental and social changes that people undergo when pushing themselves to new limits in pursing an active and energetic lifestyle.

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