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6 practical ways for brands to change their logo

6 practical ways for brands to change their logo

Going through fashion style phases and growing out of them is an undeniable part of our teenage years. Likewise, brands change their logos when they experience a shift in their philosophy or just want to look cooler. As a result, knowing why and when to redesign a logo is crucial for brand identity.

Photographer: Stoica Ionela | Source: Unsplash

Your company's brand identity is vital to the success of your business. Together with visible elements such as design and color, logos help perceive and identify a brand in consumers' minds. Logos are compelling branding and marketing tools representing your company and conveying important messages while being instantly recognizable.

"A logo is not a brand—it's only a symbol for a brand. A brand is much more than a logo." —Marty Neumeier

In this post, we’ll provide a list of reasons why brands redesign their logos, when it is time to change them, and the outcomes of brands that took a shot at it.

Photographer: Priscilla Du Preez | Source: Unsplash

Why does a logo need to be redesigned?

However we tried to change our looks, we presented our identity to the world. Similarly, when a brand creates its logo is only after defining how they want to be perceived and remembered. Redesigning a logo is basically switching from wearing your little sister's slim fit jeans (MCR 2004, anyone?) to a new pair of better fitting slacks instead.

To begin creating a logo, designers require a deep understanding of a brand's business aspirations. When companies go for a logo redesign, they try to display their evolution, strengths, and core business values.

So how do you know when it’s time to redesign your logo? Here are a few key indicators your logo needs a revival:

It’s one those moment when you look at something and get the impression that something’s wrong. Like you look at the sky and see your web browser on the screen of your computer ;)
Photographer: Paweł Czerwiński | Source: Unsplash

1. Ch-ch-changes

Just like every living thing, businesses and organizations evolve in order to strive and survive. By seizing opportunities brands learn how to strengthen their customer’s loyalty, achieve parts of their mission, and exponentially increase the scope of their impact.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” -John Maxwell

As a result, a logo may no longer accurately represent what a brand does or who are they doing it for. Furthermore, 77% of marketing leaders say a strong brand is critical to their growth. Therefore, a new logo that shows a brand’s evolution can motivate organizations to reconnect with customers.

2. Out with the old, in with the new

Just like trends and tastes evolve, so does the perception of a logo. Imagine entering a house decorated in the 1970s or driving a 1950s car with a bench seat. Both scenarios are notably outdated. Similarly, designs that were sleek and modern in their generation, can easily become a thing of the past.

Once people notice an outdated logo, they start perceiving brands as out-of-touch and amateur. On the other hand, a compelling logo can give that modern and professional perspective to customers.

There are some fonts, shapes, and color combinations that can make a brand look behind the times and appear out of touch with the modern world. More than enough reason for a redesign.

Although, in categories such as fashion, an old-school logo can be positive. Louis Vuitton’s logo is more than 100 years old, yet they remain vibrantly relevant.

3. Great expectations

On the other hand, there could be repositioning efforts with brands that have not changed their business one bit. Also, organizations with new management might decide to redesign and sync their logo with their arrival. For example, a merger can be an opportunity for a new logo or even a new name.

In any case, consumers will always match their expectations of what a brand shows (logo) with what it actually is (brand identity).

Imagine, how would you feel if you buy an apple, take a bite off it, and find it taste like onion soup? Most of you would probably feel disgruntled by such a deceiving fruit. Likewise, it is tremendously important for logos to match rebranding efforts and avoid consumers’ rejection and disappointment.

4. An image is worth a thousand words

Logos visually reflect a brand’s identity. However, even though a logo cannot say every single thing an organization stands for, it can certainly simplify its message. What do a black checkmark, three parallel stripes, a siren with two tails, and four intertwined rings have in common? They all have subtly turned from simple images to recognizable symbols of status.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” —Paul Rand

Designing a logo that incorporates a brand’s qualities and aspirations, is necessary when a company or organization decides it’s time to do a brand makeover; a logo that creates and leaves a valuable impression.

5. Validating trust

In college, when talking about dating with a friend I exclaimed that “You should not judge a book by its cover”, to which she cleverly responded “Indeed. But if the cover is not appealing, why would I pick it up?”, to which I responded:

Similarly, a refined and well-executed logo can create trust between a brand and its customers. 31% of consumers say trustworthiness is the most important brand quality.

Simply put, an appealing logo validates an organization in the minds of consumers. On the other hand, a lame logo design creates such distrust and skepticism that leave consumers looking like the image above.

6. Standing out from the crowd

A memorable logo sets you apart from the competition. Brands establish themselves every time people look at their logo. If more people know and remember your logo, the faster your brand can build its base.

For instance, consumers need around 5-7 impressions before they recognize a business logo. Just imagine the marketing advantage brands like Coca-Cola and Apple have over their competition with their consistently memorable ad campaigns.

When to know it’s time to redesign a logo

There’s no definitive time when a brand should redesign their logo, Nevertheless, the best indicator is—usually—when a logo just doesn’t represent who you are as an organization. At that very moment, you might want to think about making some adjustments.

“The strongest logos tell simple stories.” —Sol Sender

For the most part, brands that redesign their logos need to be aware of:

1. Customers' expectations

Once a brand builds its reputation with customers, changing a logo can become trickier than just making it look rounder.

Studies have shown that consumers strongly committed to brands indicated a diminished brand attitude when the logo was changed considerably. Nevertheless, low-to-moderate committed consumers welcomed these changes.

Always analyze how consumers respond to the new "face" and subtlely approach logo redesign to maximize the appeal to both strongly and weakly committed groups.

2. Memorable design

Logos are made to leave a positive impression on prospects and customers alike. As branding tools, they help differentiate companies and link services and products in consumers' minds. They have the fundamental task to represent a brand’s identity and influence customers with visually captivating symbols.

Likewise, technically complex logo designs do not scale down well. Multi-colored and intricate logos can overwhelmingly become expensive to print. Such considerations might seem basic at best, but they can be valid reasons for logo changes.

3. Past rebranding campaigns

One of my pet peeves is when I’m greeted by someone with a limp fish handshake. Once it happens, is hard for me to see that person with interest again. In the same vein, the perception of a brand can be tough to shake. Unsuccessful logo redesigns have the potential to ruin rebranding efforts and hurt a company’s bottom line.

Branding is a complex, multi-disciplinary task that is continuously refining the identity of a business. Hence, when logos start underperforming it can provoke a domino effect that affects everything from the website to the reputation of a company.

4. Possible outcomes

Redesigning a logo goes beyond graphic simplicity and like all marketing efforts, it certainly makes a difference. It is vital for brands to ask themselves first if the changes would make a positive difference and how an updated logo would justify the investment in terms of business results.

For instance, if a brand has just merged and the reputation of the dominant partner is strong, there might be more lost than gained in making a change.

Managing expectations and leveraging different outcomes, help brands understand themselves better. As usual, the communication throughout the organization will benefit teams that are in charge of damage control, as well as the teams in charge of customer service.

5. Expanding to new horizons

Companies may want to start redesigning their logos as they expand geographically or into new product categories. Readjusting to the impact of expansion has to come from  the top-down and from inside the company outwards a compelling brand identity

6. From logo to icon

As a result of successful branding and marketing campaigns through the years, some logos have become timeless icons in their own right. The Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonald’s GE, and even Stella Artois, technically speaking, are above and beyond old-fashioned. Brands like Apple, Lacoste, MTV, Nike, or IBM are active in industries defined by constant change – yet their logos have changed little or not at all for decades.

All of this to make the most important point of all: when a logo is not just identified but liked, stay on the side of leaving it be like it is.

Successful and Unsuccessful scenarios

By taking a cue from businesses that have successfully changed their logos, and understanding what went wrong with other rebranding and redesigning campaigns, can help you get a better grasp on where to set your goals and expectations.

Let’s talk.

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Rodrigo Amarillas
December 20, 2021
min read

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