Logo Redesigns

Logo redesigns or new logos for existing companies can spark heated debate and, occasionally, customer revolts.  When GAP redesigned its logo two years ago, the new design met with widespread rejection.  It was replaced with the prior logo within a week when a viral campaign was launched to reverse it.  While certainly a black mark for the company, the silver lining is that the company has a customer base that is very passionate about the brand.

A few weeks ago eBay announced it was replacing its logo with a new one after 17 years.  In a letter to its seller community, the company wrote:

“The world has changed. And we are evolving with it. Today, we deliver a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience, with innovation that makes buying and selling easier and more enjoyable. Our refreshed logo reflects eBay today.” 

I had not heard much feedback about the new logo so I went out looking.  The response has been a bit of yawn.  Other than some graphic designers complaining about tight tracking and kerning, the biggest complaint was that eBay missed an opportunity to come out with something more exciting.  Of course, one person’s more exciting can be another person’s heresy.

There are some things I like about the new logo.  First, I never liked the old logo.  The jumble of letters made me think the experience of using eBay was going to be just as disjointed.  So the company has achieved its objective of the logo “reflecting a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience.”  I also like that the company kept the colored letters of the original logo so that the equity built with the old logo was not totally lost in the redesign.

I do think the company missed the mark when it comes to “innovation”.  The logo does not convey any sense of innovation to me.  Yes, it is clean, contemporary and consistent, but I am at a loss to see innovation in it.

If you are considering a logo redesign, first ask: “Why do we need a new logo?”.  Get feedback from customers about the current logo to see if it communicates the brand qualities the company wants to be known for.  If not, a redesign is in order.  Even if the current logo still works, the company may want to update it, especially if the logo has been used for a long time and is starting to look dated.

Before any logo redesign, get agreement about the brand qualities the logo should convey from internal stakeholders who will approve the final product.  If you have done all the groundwork in the value proposition development and key messaging, this should not be difficult.

Like all creative endeavors, the logo designer is more likely to be successful when given specific information about the desired brand qualities.  This information will also be helpful in judging how well alternative logos express those qualities and explaining the new logo to senior management, customers, shareholders, employees, etc.   Also consider testing the final logo (or alternatives if there are more than one under consideration) with some customers to get feedback before a full-scale launch.

A logo redesign is not something to be taken lightly and definitely should not be done every few years because there is internal boredom with the logo.  But when needed and done well, a redesign can update a company’s image and communicate the desired brand qualities more effectively.

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