A company’s logo is both a calling card and a mark of quality. It is how customers recognize a brand and identify the products or services they offer. As a company evolves, its logo can become outdated, leading to a need for a refreshed look that is different from the previous logo, but not so much that customers are no longer able to recognize the brand. Unfortunately, not every company is able to balance these two essential keys to success. After all, changing an easily identifiable, iconic logo that people have loved for years can all too easily blow up in a company’s face.
We picked the brains of our world-class design team to get some examples of the best and worst logo redesigns.
This year, American fast food chain Burger King rolled out its first rebrand in over 20 years. The redesign of the company’s branding includes the creation of a retro new logo along with revamped packaging, uniforms, and a new custom typeface. The new logo, designed by creative agency Jones Knowles Ritchie, closely resembles Burger King’s logo used throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. This comprehensive redesign of Burger King’s visual identity pays homage to the brand’s heritage with a refined design that’s confident, simple, and fun.
Similar to Burger King’s rebrand, Pizza Hut is embracing its brand heritage with its most recent logo redesign. The pizza chain recently revitalized its classic red roof logo overtop bold, blocky lettering that first debuted in 1967. Pizza Hut used this red roof logo from 1967 to 1999, back when it was by far the largest pizza company in the world. This logo switch acknowledges the company’s past and future by emphasizing the time period where Pizza Hut unequivocally reigned supreme. In short, Pizza Hut wants to remind the world that it’s the OG pizza chain.
American nature TV channel Animal Planet recently introduced a redesign of its logo with a reimagined elephant from its classic 1996-2008 logo. The new logo designed by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, features a minimal, blue silhouette of a leaping elephant with the channel name underneath in an all lowercase typeface. Though Animal Planet initially asked the design studio to avoid the elephant icon, the concept of the leaping elephant invokes a feeling of nostalgia with new and old coming together. The redesigned logo follows contemporary design trends of simplicity and versatility, all while tapping into a bit of nostalgia.
Logos everywhere are getting cleaned up, stripped down, and are adhering to the less is more principle. As brands continue to shift to more simplified imagery, it is important to develop a design that still carries the essence of the brand’s identity. While many logo redesigns are successful in doing this, there are many that missed the mark.
Last year, J.M. Smucker Co. debuted a brand makeover aimed to communicate that the company is more than just a seller of jam and jelly. The new logo swapped out the “Smuckers” arch, font, and familiar strawberries with a more abstract design. According to CEO Mark Smucker, it was a much-needed change for a company that has evolved far beyond spreadable fruit products. Even though this new logo follows modern design trends, it was met with much criticism among consumers. Many people are condemning this new logo for its aggressive minimalism, departure from familiarity, and lack of visual appeal.
Another well-known example of logo redesign backlash is with clothing company Gap. When Gap unveiled its first new logo in 24 years, the reaction was unequivocally bad. The redesign attracted the type of negative mainstream attention that, for a marketer or designer, would be horrifying to watch. Again, just like with Smucker’s, Gap’s new logo opted for a more contemporary, modern design, but was still met with much criticism. Less than a week after the new logo was released, Gap released a statement saying that it would be scrapping the new logo and that the original logo would return across all channels.
Over the past two decades, department store chain JCPenney has redesigned its logo over a half-dozen times. Not only has the company spent an immense amount of time and money on these different logos, they’ve also confused and frustrated their dwindling customer base. Looking at how the logo has changed over time, it’s clear that the company has been hung up on a few critical design elements like whether or not to use the square, which letters should be capital or lowercase, and which shade of red is their favorite. To add to this branding dilemma, last year the company introduced a new concept store called “Penney’s” paying homage to the company’s former name. It’s still unclear if the company will be rolling out more of these stores in the future or if “Penney’s” will become a core part of their branding strategy.
Logo redesign can be a tricky business for companies both small and large. Any changes to it, no matter how small, can have a big impact on business and on reputation. For most of these companies, a logo redesign is usually not a complete overhaul, and keeping some design elements maintains a connection to the past even while a company moves forward. And if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.
If you or your company is looking for a total rebrand or just a new logo, fill out this form and someone from our team will reach out to you.