This article was contributed by Susan Vallance.
Rebranding a company logo is often a necessary step to take in the world of business; this could be because your current design is confusing to customers, doesn’t tell your brand message correctly or is simply out-dated.
However, this type of redesign is a minefield and your long term loyal customers may lose the emotional connection that’s been cultivated over the years. It’s safe to say that as a society, we don’t like change.
Logos Have an Emotional Attachment
It seems no matter the size of the brand, it seems they always receive negative feedback; this is because we align ourselves with the brands we engage with. We take on their identity and when the design changes, we worry the brand is going to change with the new logo. Typically the stronger emotional attachment we have to a brand, the more negative our reactions are when they change their design.
Brand’s risk alienating their audience with a new design, and though many seek advice from business logo design companies, the water’s a muddy and a rebrand is a treacherous place to be.
So, what big brands have redesigned in 2016 and just how badly did we react?
Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social media channels with over 400million active users uploading over 80million photos per day. In May 2016, a new look was launched for this photo sharing giant. The original retro camera has been replaced with a background of swirling oranges, yellows, purples and pinks with the outline of the camera atop this. This design was described by own unamused Guardian writer as:
“As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown.”
Ian Spalter, head of design for Instagram explained the rebrand as a response to the Instagram user evolving from a place to simply share filtered photos to a community platform that is vibrant and diverse.
Not only has the main logo changed, but their sister apps have undergone the same makeover; Boomerang, Hyperlapese and Layout have all been given the vibrant look the brand want to evoke.
As branding expert Saul Bass once said “Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realties of a company”. It seems Instagram are using their logo to speak to their users outwardly, without the need for written communication, whether the customers like it or not.
Netflix is the world’s leading internet television company with a global consumption of over 125million hours of TV a day. Netflix almost managed to avoid a PR storm in June thanks to their announcement regarding their “not new logo” and proclaimed this icon was simply to accompany the current logo on social media, avatars and perhaps eventually the app icon.
This new ribbon effect “N” against a black background icon mirrors the current logo and though the ribbon effect is visually pleasing, though some users feel it serves no purpose. Though when compared to the many negative comments Instagram’s redesign received, Netflix have every right to be feeling victorious.
Past Rebranding fails
In January of 2009, Tropicana’s branding was changed from a juicy orange with a straw sticking out the peel, to a transparent glass along with the change of packaging, a new typeface and slogan. The design was meant to represent the modernity of the brand but instead, the brand’s sales dropped by 20%. This design fail shows just how important design is in the buying process and how customers who are confused by your message will abandon your product in place of a competitor. After investing $35million in the rebrand and losing a further $30million in lost sales after just two months, the juice giants reverted to their original logo & packaging.
One rebranding fail that haunts us time and again takes us back to 2010 when Gap unveiled their brand new design. The launch brought about global attention, for all the wrong reasons. The brand that had held a firm identity via its logo for 20 years had suddenly changed overnight, and the public were not happy. One of the reasons the logo failed so badly was thanks to the use of the Helvetica font. This typeface is overused and so therefore failed to create any unique visual for the audience to hold on to. After just 6 days, Gap reverted to their old logo with an estimation of $100million lost in the rebranding process.
London Olympics 2012
Not all logo design fails are a result of rebranding; many are terrible straight off the bat. The 2012 Olympics proved just that, and thanks to the rise in social media, failings are now less contained than ever. The intention for the logo was that by being bold, spirited and even jarring, it would echo London’s qualities as a modern, diverse and vibrant city, though the internet had different ideas and the design was alluded to an X-rated image that soon reached viral status.
When companies are rebranding who are fortunate enough to have budgets in the multi millions are still failing at logo design it can put off smaller companies doing the same. It’s always advised to let your customer know if a change is coming in order to soften the blow. Ask yourself, does this redesign need to happen? Ian Spalter, head of design at Instagram drives this message home with his blog post regarding their logo change:
“Brands, logos, and products develop deep connections and associations with people, so you don’t just want to change them for the sake of novelty”.
So, if a redesign seems self-indulgent, step away or risk alienating your audience, but if necessary, remember, tread carefully!
For a complete & definitive guide to logo design see the Ultimate Guide to Logo Design eBook.