Logo Design Articles

Changing your logo

The risks and rewards of changing your company logo

It happens many times. You take a look at your logo design and it doesn’t have the same oomph that it did a few years ago. Maybe it was a great logo design 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 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 new logo design 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’. You may have changed your market focus and need a logo that is more in line with, and appealing to, your current demographics. A logo 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 swooshes 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. All good things to be sure. 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 so far as we know. 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 a logo repair. Your logo may just need spruced up. A little font tweak here. A little simplification, or perhaps a more technically proficient rendering. This is the least traumatic and allows for slow integration into your branding material. You can use up your stock of already printed business goods (letterheads and business cards for example) as you port the new look onto your branding, advertising and marketing materials. A logo repair usually involves a re-rendering of your artwork (see our logo repair services area for more information) so that your new (and slightly improved) logo can be utilized in various media and reproduction media. Once your logo has been re-rendered into new editable format, your logo designers can then improve the various design 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.

The simple solution – Logo Repair and/or Makeover

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. in order to score a few design points. However, even Nike is not beyond trying to spruce up their image. The accompanying ‘Nike’ font style has been altered many times, in an attempt to keep up with changes in taste and design sensibility.

The same can be said for the Microsoft Windows logo. When first introduced in 1995, the logo was a graphic representation of a flying window (hideous). When the new Windows XP operating system was introduced a few years ago, it also featured a logo makeover – the Windows icon had become much more refined, 3D and included 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. Apple computers also evolved their famous Apple icon from a rainbow-striped version to a solid, and much ‘classier’ modern icon in the late nineties. 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 Apple.com look and feel is the most copied design on the Internet today. The Apple icon has remained pretty stable over the years, but its treatment has changed on several occasions in order to maintain the logo’s strength (the fruit of knowledge from the Bible’s Genesis) while adapting to the corporation’s current marketing focus (see the various versions of the Apple Quicktime logo here). All in all, it’s pretty safe to say that if Apple, Microsoft and Nike aren’t opposed to changing their logo, then your fears, while understandable, can be put aside. It’s also 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 design several times. Our first logo (circa 1993) was a Tim Burtonesque simple design. 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 logo also didn’t fax well, and was too complicated for small sizes. A years back we overhauled our own 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 the old TLF brand, but is 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 re-worked 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 schizophrenic. Flaky and unfocused. 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.

2 Comments to “Changing your logo”
  1. Great article! There are some great examples out there of companies who tweaked their logo with great success. They didn’t lose any brand equity, and the decision to update helped them better compete and showcase changes in their business. Quantas, UPS, and Apple come to mind.

  2. [...] very long and hard about it. If you decide to go ahead, then make sure you get it right that time. Changing a logo dramatically more than once (in a short period of time) may tell your audience that you’re flaky [...]

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