Throughout its history, a brand may decide to revamp its logo and its visual identity. The reasons why a company decides to redesign its logo can be the most diverse. In this article, we explore what a corporate brand redesign is, when to do it, what aspects to take into consideration and which are the main current trends.
Trends change very quickly, as do user behaviours and social dynamics. To keep up with the times and not be perceived as obsolete by consumers, brands may decide to make changes to their corporate image.
When it comes to the visual identity of a company, the first element that comes to mind is the logo as it represents the graphic element that makes a brand most recognizable to consumers. The shapes, style, colours chosen by a company for its logo give the brand an identity and allow users to more easily associate products with a specific company.
For this reason, the logo is one of the first elements that are questioned when a company feels the need to update, revamp or brush up its visual identity based on what are the trends and dynamics within its target market. This process goes by the name of redesign.
Carrying out a logo redesign is anything but simple. In this article we will learn more about what a logo redesign is, what aspects to take into consideration, the main logo design trends and some examples, more and less successful.
Table of contents
What is a logo redesign?
The term redesign refers to the process of revamping a logo and, consequently, the entire visual identity of a company. When redesigning a logo, it is possible to either do a simple touch up or completely change it. Obviously, the two processes require different communication strategies: if the logo is completely modified, it is advisable to create a transition strategy that allows users to become acquainted with the new graphic design and to get used to recognizing the new logo.
When a redesign is carried out, only the visual and “superficial” aspect of a brand is changed, while values, mission and vision that distinguish the company remain the same. In the event that these elements are also modified, we speak of rebranding.
Why redesigning a logo?
The reasons why a company decides to change its logo are generally related to concrete needs and to the business. We don’t change a logo that works only because we no longer like it on an aesthetic level; this choice must be justified by real strategic reasons, including for example:
- Relaunch: renewing our logo is a way to show consumers our ability to keep up with the trends of the time, respond to market developments, and to convey the image of a lively brand, linked to its values but capable to communicate them on a graphic level in a more contemporary way.
- Product portfolio change: over time, companies may decide to diversify their catalogues by introducing new products, or to open a new business unit. Changing the logo can respond to the need to effectively embrace and communicate all the most important news related to the brand and its business.
- Leadership change: when in a company there are ownership changes, acquisitions and/or mergers, these changes can also be communicated through a new logo.
- Reaching new targets: when we need to reach targets of different generations, rethinking the logo could be a way to embrace different targets. The tastes of Generation Z, for example, do not always coincide with those of their parents. Creating a logo that is fresher and in line with current trends is certainly a great way to be perceived and positioned in the correct way.
Furthermore, technological changes also affect a company’s logo. In the past, logos were only paginated on paper such as brochures, catalogues, letterheads, business cards, etc. However, today, logos have to adapt digitally too – from social media to the website. Consequently, if our logo is no longer compatible and cannot be easily viewed on every technological device, then a redesign should be evaluated, opting for a more practical logo.
What aspects to keep in mind when redesigning a logo?
During the redesign process of a logo, it is necessary to evaluate both the internal elements that make up a logo and the external ones. As for the former, we need to study which are the characteristics of our logo (colours, shapes, fonts, etc.) that work and those that don’t; then we should focus on the latter, carrying out market research, studying the current trends and analysing the tastes and needs of our target audience.
After having considered these aspects, we can move on to the creative part. When creating a new logo, we have to keep in mind that, even after the redesign, the brand must continue to be clearly recognisable in the eyes of consumers. We cannot launch a logo that is completely detached from the previous corporate image; the risk is that users are no longer able to recognise our brand and that the efforts made in previous decades to grow and market our business will be for nothing. Maintaining a reference to the old logo (be it a colour, a font or a graphic shape) is essential to create continuity between the old and the new logo. Let’s see some examples.
3 logo redesigns that actually work: Nike, Apple and Pepsi
Renowned international companies such as Nike, Apple and Pepsi have changed their logo several times over the course of their history, without ever losing their identity and remaining easily recognisable in the eyes of consumers.
The Nike logo has undergone four redesign processes since 1971, the year of its foundation. As you can see from the following image, the four logos have a common element: the iconic Swoosh, which has always been the protagonist of the brand image of Nike, is what actually makes the company recognisable all over the world.
The same thing happens with the giant from Cupertino, which from 1977 to today has only ever changed the colours of its logo. The rainbow apple has been replaced by single-colour logos – first black, then blue, then white and then black again. A logo which is effective, practical and easy to use on any support.
Finally, the Pepsi logo has undergone numerous redesign operations. If we consider the first logo from 1898 and the current one, it almost feels like they are of two completely different companies (and in contrast to what has been explained so far). However, the strength of Pepsi was to bring about a gradual transformation through minimal changes: the red cursive font has acquired greater thickness over the years, up to being integrated into the 1950 logo, which introduced for the first time the bottle cap marked with the colours of the US flag. Then, the company opted for an uppercase font, probably more readable and impactful, which developed into the current logo, in which the brand name is abandoned and only its iconic colours – red, white and blue – are retained.
Therefore, maintaining consistency between the identity of the initial logo and the current one allows brands to keep being recognisable by both old and new customers.
Another interesting thing to note is that all the brands considered so far have been able to communicate so effectively on the market that it is unnecessary to include the company name in the logo: we all know that the Swoosh refers to Nike and the eaten apple refers to Apple.
A logo redesign that didn’t work: GAP
Although there are brands that over time have been able to brush up their logo successfully, without losing their identity, there are also some companies that have lost their bearings during the logo redesign process. An example is the American clothing brand GAP.
The historical logo of the company consisted of a blue square and the brand name written in Spire Regular font. In October 2010 the company, due to the collapse of sales following the financial crisis of 2008, decided to redesign its logo with the aim of giving new impetus to sales and reaching new consumers. The new logo, however, did not have any element in common with the logo with which the brand was known up to that moment: the square, in addition to having been reduced in size, also underwent some changes – the bright blue was transformed into a nuanced light blue. The brand name also changed from uppercase to lowercase. A different font was used too.
As soon as it was released, the logo was harshly criticised by users and labelled as a logo created with “poor creativity”. The criticism was so heavy that the company was forced to withdraw the new logo a week after its launch. This episode is still remembered today as Gapgate and testifies that what we said above is fundamental during the creation of a new logo.
The redesign of a logo needs to go hand in hand with a marketing strategy to effectively communicate the reasons that led to the change. In fact, changes often confuse the public and it is advisable to involve and accompany customers along the process that led to the development of the new image.
What are the main logo redesign trends?
Graphic design trends change very quickly and it is always good to be up-to-date with new trends when we decide to redesign our logo. However, in recent years the key seems to be minimalism. Alongside it, other trends are also very popular. Let’s see them.
For several years now, architects and designers have loved the “less is more” concept. It is an explicit reference to aesthetics, simplicity, functionality and essentiality: principles that find their way in minimalism – a trend that is also embraced in the digital world by graphic designers and web developers.
Regular shapes, soft colours and essential lines are the main elements taken into consideration when creating a website or a logo. But, in order to be successful, a logo can’t just be aesthetically pleasing or elegant. It is essential that it adapts to the ethics, mission and values of our company. The risk is that it may be modern but also inadequate for our brand.
In addition to an aesthetic issue, minimal logos are also more practical than others, as they are more suitable to be displayed on screens of different sizes and on any type of support.
Given these reasons, there are many brands that in recent years have decided to redesign their logo, heading towards a simpler and more minimalist style. Apple, Nike and Pepsi – mentioned previously – are an example of this: abandoning fonts that are difficult to read, strange shapes and the overabundance of colours, these three logos are characterised by simplicity and essentiality.
An even more recent example is that of Barilla, an Italian multinational in the food sector. In January 2022, on the occasion of its 145th anniversary, it unveiled its new logo.
The logo used by the company for over 65 years was designed by Erberto Carboni, a designer and architect from Parma and member of the post-Cubism culture. It presented a red and white flattened oval shape and the name of the brand in the centre of it. Over the years, the logo has been modified several times, but never completely changed.
There have been small interventions on the logo, but they never changed the typical oval shape resembling a hard-boiled egg cut in half. A few months, however, the logo adopted by the brand has embraced a more minimalistic look: a single and simple shape, an even sharper contrast between the two colours and a clearly legible font.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the world of fashion and automotive, sectors in which the trend towards minimalism is very popular, perhaps to the point of flattening way too much the image of the brand.
Vintage and nostalgia
The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to radically change our daily habits and routines. In this difficult time, when creating new memories was almost impossible, people sought solace in the past and nostalgia became a shared theme among users. TV series, films, music, fashion and obviously graphic design offer us a way to go back to the “good ol’ times”.
A brand that has embraced this trend in 2021, having great success internationally, is Burger King.
The famous fast food restaurant franchise has decided to return to the historic 1994 logo. The reason is soon explained by the company’s top management: going back to one’s roots allows to create an emotional, familiar and reassuring connection with customers, making them feel at ease. Furthermore, the company’s growth in terms of sales was achieved precisely from 1969 to 1994. Consequently, returning to the iconic original logo also represents a way to remember the times when the fast-food achieved tremendous results from a commercial point of view.
Burger King is not the only brand that has recently decided to adopt a vintage-style logo. Kodak also took a step back in time, adopting a revised version of its 1971 logo in 2016.
In recent times, animated logos are also becoming popular. Understanding why this is happening is not difficult if we consider how our brain is stimulated more by dynamic images than static ones. Just as videos and animations on websites and social media are on the rise, so are animated logos.
To create an animated logo that works, it’s best to create a rather simple, linear animation, lasting only a few seconds. Here are two exams of two giants of the web which created an animated version of their logo: Google and Meta.
This trend is not new but it continues to grow and be embraced by many brands. The most emblematic example is Instagram. The logo of Zuckerberg’s social network was almost completely changed in 2016, when the company decided to replace the vintage-coloured logo with one with brighter colours.
In recent weeks, after 6 years, Instagram released the new logo created with an innovative 3D modelling process. The differences between the 2016 and 2022 logos are minimal: now the colours are even brighter. The choice comes from the fact that colour gradient gives more dynamism to images and the brighter the colours, the more visible they are on all digital devices.
Adobe has also revolutionized its brand identity by unveiling the new icon of its Creative Cloud. The logo, which previously boasted a combination of red and white colours, now sports a rainbow gradient – from red to green, from fuchsia to blue. This variety of shades “brings the colours of our product brands and our new corporate red together into one beautiful gradient that represents the importance of creativity”, the company explained.
Redesigning your logo can bring many benefits. First of all, it allows to communicate the brand identity in an effective and coherent, lining up with the internal and external changes of the company. It also allows to be perceived as a brand attentive to the dynamics and values of the company, as well as to graphic design trends. However, in order to redesign the logo in an effective way, it is good to take into consideration the aspects we have addressed in this article.
Relying on a marketing and communication company, such as eos, can help you successfully redesigning your logo. Contact us to learn more about our graphic design services!