Let's take a close look at big brand logo design successes and failures, plus key takeaways for your business.
Since Bass Ale (with its distinctive red triangle) was first trademarked in 1876, we've been inundated with these symbolic emblems meant to capture a brand in a blink of an eye. And as part of a brand's continuous evolution, we've witnessed some redesigns that either proved successful or unsuccessful, or just meh.
The purpose of these redesigns is varied. Some brands want to achieve a cleaner look and keep their logo dated with shift in design trends so their logo is nimble enough to adapt from huge billboards to web and mobile platforms. While others wanted a more updated modern look just cause. While some of these redesigns were widely accepted, some redesigned logos drew negative criticism from designers and consumers alike.
Let's take a look at what we can learn from these logo redesign success and failures.
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Google is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, so any kind of redesign will inevitably present a challenge. On this occasion Google has chosen to play it safe, by following Facebook's dumbing down of its own logotype. The discernibly scrappy dotcom-era style has been replaced by a simpler, geometric sans-serif, with only the famous blue, red, yellow, blue, green, red color sequence surviving.
According to Google the redesign has been inspired by mobile usage. What they have delivered, in addition to the logotype, are the new ‘Google Dots’: four dots–– colored blue, red, yellow, and green. They animate, they communicate, they’re playful, versatile, memorable; everything you’d ask for in an identity. Early reads show they’ll be central to all of Google’s future UI design, providing visual feedback on interactions.
All in all, this is a safe corporate rebrand. And, in today’s combative and critical social media climate, a neutral response is a win. The Google Dots however, are a great addition that will be built into everything Google do, and will be around for years to come.
Key Takeaway: In this digital age, a logo needs to go beyond a static emblem and be an animated, interactive, fluid entity that captures a brand in more than appearance but in how it behaves. Some of the interesting trends in recent logo changes are flat and minimalist design, wider spacing etc., all of which will help you logo transform gracefully between different medium.
The second largest pizza chain in the United States, along with many stores in several countries, Dominos has become a world player in the world of pizza. Once offering only a limited selection of pizza, they have branched out into other menu options. Dominos continues its image makeover and focus on self-improvement including putting pizza-making front and center with the release of its new 'Pizza Theater' store design. The redesigned logo kept the famous dominos icon, but removed the word pizza and the pizza box from the slogan, signaling they are much more than a pizza delivery business.
Key Takeaway: The best way to signal that there's something new on the inside is to create something new on the outside.
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There’s a reason it looks a little vintage—because it’s actually an older logo design brought back to life. It’s a bold move by Bacardi, but one that certainly pays off, especially when you consider the brand has to compete with craft beers and artisan liquors these days. This new-old look makes Bacardi look a little more sophisticated and quirky, which is the right combination for selling alcohol in today’s market.
Key Takeaway: Look to your brands past for ideas.
It’s understandable why Marriott Hotels would want to redesign their logo to represent one unified image, since that’s commonplace in the hotel industry. Having a single signature symbol makes it easy for customers to find your hotel chain when they’re driving on the highway; plus, it looks good on a towel or an ice bucket. The redesigned logo cuts down everything from the old logo except for the letter “M,” which is much more effective on its own. As part of the word Marriott, you never really notice how fancy the “M” is, but when it’s isolated, it makes for a strong monogram.
Key Takeaway: Isolate your logo's best quality.
Who doesn't love a logo with a hidden meaning? Thanks to this redesign, the Fandango logo is now much more than meets the eye. The “F” for Fandango has always been a ticket stub, but now there’s a second letter “F” made from the negative space, creating two interlocking F’s. Even apart from the hidden image, this new logo is a big improvement. Not only does it trade in the dated drop shadow look for a flat design, the wider font and tighter kerning make the typography look much better.
Key Takeaway: Use hidden meanings to add interest.
Perhaps the quickest crash and burn in logo history. The clothing store Gap made some rebranding efforts during the fall of 2010 that included updating its logo–– but unfortunately it was seen as a failed effort from a backlash of online criticism. The company quickly switched back to the original Gap logo within a matter of days.
Gap received a large amount of negative feedback that their rebranded logo had missed the mark for various reasons, such as “it is far too generic,” or the new look “cheapened” the brand. Luckily, Gap’s super-fast “command Z” avoided any long-term damage to their brand.
Key Takeaway: Don’t put style before substance. And, if you get major backlash respond quickly and give your audience what they want. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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Comcast (No Wait, Xnfinity)
Not so much a logo change as it was a virtual ‘thinking your customers are morons,’ Comcast renamed itself ‘Xfinity’ and it was plain awful. Named one of Time magazine’s ‘Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes of 2009,‘ the company obviously hoped the new name would help customers forget the horrible customer service that has plagued so many. It didn’t, and customers only felt more frustrated.
Key Takeaway: Changing your outfit doesn’t change who you are. If you’re going to drastically rebrand yourself, make sure on a fundamental level your brand has indeed changed for the better.
In what’s been called part check this box and part flat-out boring, Verizon said it changed the logo to reflect an identity that “stands for simplicity, honesty and joy.” But was it too simplistic? Users have complained that the font is uninspired and the checkmark looks completely out of place.
Key Takeaway: Don't confuse simplicity with boring.
Best Buy’s old logo was instantly recognizable for it’s price tag shape and bold color and represented the company's low cost and convenience brand strategy. The redesigned logo has a more upscale look, that potentially communicates a more upscale price.
Key Takeaway: Don't depart from your core value proposition.
The old logo might be old fashioned, however it is far more powerful as compared with the new one— that has far too much going on. A tagline, not one, but two graphic elements. Talk about "not" mobile friendly. While the original logo may not have been stellar, it was a staple for such a long time that the decision to re-brand seems like it was made on a whim.
Key Takeaway: Too many elements spoil the logo.
So, if you’re thinking of refreshing your logo ask yourself these questions:
Is your logo digitally nimble?
Is there something fundamentally different with your brand you want to convey?
Does your brand have a valuable historical element you can repurpose and leverage?
Is there an opportunity to insert something fresh and different without deviating from your core identity?
Is there a standout element to your logo you could showcase that increases your visibility?
As you ponder your own logo and brand, keep in mind you never get a second chance to make a good second impression.