Remember When Gap Changed Their Logo?
In 2010, clothing retailer Gap practically caused a Twitter riot when it changed its classic navy blue square logo design. Instead of the traditional white-on-blue, the new logo was black lettering with a transparent blue square positioned over the upper-right corner of the ‘p.’ Gap hoped its new logo would modernize the brand, but public opinion was so negative that the brand reverted back to its classic design after just one week, perhaps to retain customer-based brand equity.
The cautionary tale of Gap’s redesign begs the question: Why do brands change their logos at all? In many cases, it’s an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario, but logos go beyond simply what is acceptable or satisfactory. Logos are the image associated with a brand, and if they no longer represent that brand’s values and offerings, it might be time to consider a new brand – read more about this in our rebranding vs repositioning discussion. Here are some other reasons that brands might change up their logo:
The Logo is Outdated
Don’t confuse “old-fashioned” with “classic.” Brands like Nike, Apple, and Mercedes-Benz have kept similar logos throughout the last three decades because they’re classic and recognizable. But if you’ve ever seen Apple Computers’ first logo (a line drawing of Isaac Newton pictured under an apple tree with 19th century lettering) you likely would have thought the image hopelessly outdated. When logo colors, images, and font have gone out of style and look old-fashioned instead of forward-thinking, it’s time for a change.
The Product Line Has Expanded
Both Starbucks and Domino’s underwent logo changes in 2014 to avoid product offering confusion: They were Starbucks Coffee and Domino’s Pizza before, respectively. When a company name changes or new products alter what the company offers, a new logo must be crafted to avoid customer misunderstanding (and remove limitations for future products).
To Limit Negative Associations
Big oil is no stranger to controversy, which is why oil logos are so vital in reducing negative associations for petroleum companies. Take BP, for example: The oil giant reportedly paid a staggering $211 million for the redesign of its BP shield into a green, organic-looking flower set with friendly, lower-case type. The redesign was a clear bid to reduce whatever negative feelings consumer had toward big oil, using organic colors and shapes to influence BP’s reputation.
To Recharge Publicity
Gap probably fell victim to the very thing it hoped to inspire with a logo change: public interest. Sure, Gap got its publicity, but if social media is any indication, it was overwhelmingly negative. Still, changing up a logo is one way to rejuvenate stale publicity for a brand that might be disappearing from the public radar.
Two Companies Have Merged
When companies merge, they must walk a thin line between new identities and their old, customer-approved brands. If the newly formed company has an entirely new name (one that isn’t comprised of the two previous names) the colors, type, and logo usually have similar elements of past logos to encourage familiarity with consumers. If one brand has a better reputation than the other, than the better brand usually wins out in name and logo. Or, if the two merging brands are on equal footing, the logo may utilize elements from both: ExxonMobil uses the overlapped double ‘x’ from Exxon and the font from Mobile.
As Gap learned, changing a logo isn’t as easy as it seems. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the graphic representation of your brand should really say something. Choose a timeless logo from day one, or you might find yourself in an upward battle to change to something new.