Changing Your Logo

The risks and rewards of changing your company brand

It happens many times. You take a look at your used-to-be spiffy logo and it doesn’t have the same oomph that it did a few years ago. Maybe it was a great logo idea at the time, but now it’s looking a little tired. Or maybe it was created under a time (or budget) crunch that precluded a complete or thorough work up. Bottom line – you’re sick and tired of your logo and want to change it. Can this be done? Certainly. Are there risks involved? Absolutely. Do we recommend changing your logo design in mid-stride? Well, yes. And no.

Changing your logo

Tread lightly. The decision you make will impact for years.

[Example logo: Details here] Changing an established logo should be approached with a great deal of caution and forethought. As in many business (and life) decisions, you have to weigh the pros and the cons, and decide what is the best solution for your particular situation. A total logo makeover (executed correctly) can infuse your company brand with new excitement (even major corporations change their identity once in a while – Intel and Kodak among recent examples.) New blood. A new lease on day-to-day ‘team spirit.’

“It’s a pretty safe bet that you can perform a major overhaul of your logo once. That can be interpreted (and explained) as an improvement. Forward thinking. A new birth of your company. Any more changes and you’re starting to look a little flaky, unfocused and unsure of your identity.”

You may have changed your market focus and need a logo that is more in line with, and appealing to, your current demographics. A makeover can certainly do that. A logo that was nifty cool at the time (remember all those ‘swooshy’ logos at the end of the nineties?) may have become unacceptably dated – you need to dial-back the gimmicks and bring to market a logo that is more ‘solid’ and conservative. More in line with your current business goals. Maybe you opted for an overdone and overused icon in development stage, and that’s started to look like a whole bunch of other people. Bottom line, your custom logo design doesn’t look so custom after all. So yes, your long-in-the-tooth company logo can (and sometimes should) be changed. Are there any rules (other than expenses, which we will deal with later?) Not as far as we know (most are meant to be broken anyway.) So, and with typical TLF aplomb, we’re going to make some up. We’ll give you some examples of famous logo makeovers, as well as our own personal history.

Re-design, makeover or a brand repair?

If you have a hunch that your logo needs changed, you should decide if you want a logo makeover (a new design) or just a few tweaks here and there. Your logo may just need spruced up. A little font refresh here. Some smoothing of the icon art there. A little simplification, or perhaps a more technically proficient rendering. This is the least traumatic and allows for slow integration into your branded business material. You can use up your stock of already printed goods (letterheads and business cards for example) as you port the new look onto your advertising and marketing media. Tweaking a logo usually involves re-rendering of your artwork (see our logo repair services area to see what we can do) so that your new (and slightly improved) logo can be utilized in various media and reproduction. Once your logo has been re-rendered into new editable format, a designer can improve the various components, colors and fonts with very little upset to the overall brand of your company. The deciding factor about a logo repair, as opposed to a complete overhaul should not be based on your personal ‘feeling’ about the design. It should be based on your market’s understanding and recognition of your logo.

Nice and easy does it.

It’s pretty safe to say that Nike is not going to change their ‘swoosh’ anytime soon. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get that logo into the public eye. The Nike recognition factor makes the logo impressive, NOT the design. A drastic change would impede that recognition factor too dramatically, just to score a few brownie points and spark heated discussions on Facebook and Twitter. However, even Nike is not beyond trying to spruce up their image. The ‘Nike’ font that sits alongside the swoosh has been altered many times, in an attempt to keep up with changes in taste and design sensibility.

The big guys do it. Why can’t you?

When first introduced in 1995, the Microsoft Windows logo was a graphic representation of a flying window (and was quite hideous.)

WIndows logo evolutions

When the (then) new Windows XP operating system was introduced, it also featured a logo makeover – the Windows icon had become much more refined, 3D and used a much more appropriate font. It still had enough of the old Windows logo to remain in the same design family, but was sleeker to (hopefully) reflect the vastly improved (again, hopefully) operating system. The latest version is much more minimalist, but still retains some of the original Windows design DNA.

Apple Logo Evolutions

Apple computers evolved their famous Apple icon from a wood-cut illustrative mess into one of the most widely celebrated icons of our age. With the advent of their OS X system, the Apple icon became a ‘gel’ version, in order to fit into the Apple marketing flavor – a flavor so successful that the look and feel is still the most copied design on the Internet today. I’d argue that Apple only really changed their logo once, when they lost the Newton drawing in favor of a literal apple (the fruit of knowledge from the Bible’s Genesis.) Otherwise, that iconoclastic Apple has remained pretty stable over the years, only changing its treatment to adapt with the corporation’s contemporary marketing focus. All in all, if Apple, Microsoft and Nike aren’t opposed to tweaking their logo here and there, then your fears, while understandable, can be put aside. It’s worthy to note that they ‘modified’ their logos, rather than scrapping the look and recognition they had already achieved.

Changing our logo.

On a much smaller scale The Logo Factory has changed our logo and brand quite a few times since our startup. Our first logo (circa 1993) was a Tim Burtonesque simple design.

The Logo Factory evolutions

When we went online in 1996, the design was boxed, and included the term Media Works. After a few years I decided that the Media Works was redundant, and was overkill on the ‘Factory’ concept. The box was too restrictive and neither the purple nor the teal reproduced well on web safe colors (duh!) Any stationery and letterhead design was incredibly expensive to reproduce (the yellow window and black box guaranteed 4 color printing.) The didn’t fax well and was far too complicated for small sizes. A first we tweaked the logo slightly. We kept the house, the font (both are part of our trademarks) and dispensed with everything else. That logo was still recognizable as our old brand, but was vastly more versatile and adaptable. Keeping the change minimal we were still able to utilize our shirts, mouse pads, hats and other soft goods that we had in inventory. When it came to new production runs, we simply replaced the embroidery and silk-screens with the new TLF ‘look.’ It wasn’t until 2009 that we redesigned our logo into the cog version we now use.

The massive, traumatic logo overhaul.

It’s a pretty safe bet that you can perform a major overhaul of your logo once. That can be interpreted (and explained) as an improvement. Forward thinking. A new birth of your company. Any more changes and you’re starting to look a little flaky, unfocused and unsure of your identity. You may look like you’re unsure of who you are, or more importantly, who your clients are. While a logo makeover is relatively painless, a total overhaul can (though not always) represent a sizable expense and trauma to your marketing endeavors. While a successful logo overhaul can bring enormous worth to your company, the risks (and potential expense) can be high. What’s the difference between a logo makeover and a logo overhaul? If a logo makeover can be viewed as a few coats of makeup on your logo, a new hairdo, an overhaul is an entire face lift.

With the associated risks.


Creative Director

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