Why Your Company (Probably) Needs A New Logo
Let’s get it out of the way. The bad news for business owners is that in 2018, it is likely that your business needs a new logo. There’s an even better chance that the very thought of getting a new logo makes you want to close this article right this second and go back to whatever you were doing before this.
Why is that? If any other single factor was impacting your bottom line negatively, you probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time wondering if you should make changes there. The reason you may feel a knee-jerk negative reaction to the idea of revising your logo is pretty easily explained. Even though we traditionally hold the belief that business decisions shouldn’t be made based on emotions, your logo is the one exception to this rule. By it’s very nature, a brand’s mark (or logo) is directly connected to the feelings and emotions that your customers associate with your overall product or service. When people see a logo that they recognize, they feel something. It may be good, it may be bad, but you can believe it, they have an opinion, and our opinions are tied closely to our emotions. This emotional connection to a brand is why it is so common to get unreasonably attached to your own logo, and also why it can be a very difficult to reckon with the idea that it may not be working anymore.
The good news for business owners is that a logo redesign doesn’t mean that you have to lose your audience’s brand association. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to or even should start from scratch. Some of the world’s most recognizable brands have evolved through the years by adding or subtracting small elements, one at a time, over a very long period of time so that the evolution and modernization of the brand feels natural and comfortable. Professional sports logos are a great example of how a strong brand can evolve and stay fresh over a period of a few years without losing any of it’s recognition.
We have put together a list of the some of the most common reasons that companies decide to update or completely revise their logos:
Reason # 1: Your Logo Is No Longer Original
Where did your current logo design come from? If it was a relative, a college student, or a friend who has Photoshop, there is a distinct possibility that your logo is outdated or no longer original. In the last decade, the advent of affordable desktop publishing software like Adobe Creative Cloud has created a wave of amateur designers who dabble in graphic design. One of the surest signs that a logo was not developed by a professional is the use of trendy fonts, which are usually free, and therefore not licensed for commercial use. What may have been a hot new typeface in 2011 might be overused now, causing your logo to be lumped in with other forgettable brands who jumped on the same bandwagon.
Trendy fonts have a tendency to get overused. If the point of a logo is to make your brand stand out as original and fresh, why would your typeface (font) be taken from a pool of free fonts that anyone can use? Couple supersaturation with the fact that your typeface may not have even been licensed, and your brand is in trouble. Quirky, whimsical fonts are born every day, and they are distributed on free font websites worldwide.
Consider hiring a designer that has an arsenal of paid typefaces. Not only are they less common than free fonts, but they are also licensed, protecting your brand from lawsuits in the future.
Example: American Airlines had the same logo for 45 years, which is an impressive run for any brand. The original logo, created by the late, world famous multimedia icon Massimo Vignelli, utilized Helvetica Typeface in navy and red with a vector image of an eagle nestled between two capital As. If you do a quick Google Search for Helvetica Logos, you will see that several major brands like Jeep, Mattel, Crate & Barrel, and most recently, Cards Against Humanity use the Helvetica typeface in their logo. Recently, American Airlines hired a design firm to create a custom font, and they simplified the eagle in their mark to look more like an airplane.
Reason #2: Your Logo is Not Mobile Friendly
Quick. Pull out your cell phone, if you aren’t already on it. Open Facebook or Instagram, and find the last company in your feed to post content. Look at the thumbnail of their logo next the name of their business. Can you tell from an image that small who the company is without looking at their name? If so, then you are looking at a “mobile friendly” logo. If you can’t tell what you are looking at, then you are witnessing a relatively new problem that brands are facing worldwide.
Mobile traffic makes up more than 56% of all web traffic now. While it’s assuring to know that people can carry your brand with you wherever they go, it’s instrumental to the success of your company to revisit your logo design with fresh eyes to determine if you still recognize the key elements of your logo on a small snippet of a mobile screen, such as a Facebook comment thread. Every place that your customers interact with your logo is a touch point, an opportunity to make them love your brand, and a chance to remind them of the goods and services you provide. You want to be in the forefront of your customer’s consciousness when they are ready to make a decision on where to buy what they need, and you always want to make sure they know who they are interacting with.
Example: Google’s logo was recently redesigned to drop the serifs (feet) from their iconic multicolored logo. This small adjustment made their “G” icon much easier to read on apps and mobile devices. They didn’t change their logo as drastically as American Airlines. Sometimes a minor swap of serif to sans serif can do the trick.
Reason #3: Your Logo Is Too Detailed or Complex
If your logo has more than three individual components, tag lines or bylines, shadows, textured backgrounds, too many gradients, Inc./L.L.C. markup, bullet points or web addresses, your logo is not a logo. It’s a sign. Signage is important, and can be a successful part of your overall marketing strategy, but it is important to know the difference between a logo and a sign.
A logo is a symbol or a design used to identify your business. A sign can have a logo on it, but anything past the mark itself is no longer a logo. Use marketing components like websites and tag lines sparingly on your company’s facebook profile picture, corporate sponsorships, merchandise (such as cups and t-shirts). It’s okay to let people know how to get in touch with you, but your phone number and email address don’t necessarily need to appear under your logo every single time you use it. The idea is to make your brand quickly memorable, and when the eyes see text, the brain naturally wants to read that text. This can confuse people into thinking that they are looking at a sign, instead of remembering the essence of your brand.
Additionally, overly complex logos that have several small detailed lines, curves or patterns are difficult to decipher from far away (or on small mobile screens), and can distract customers from what your logo says about your brand. Finally, overly detailed logos do not print or embroider well, and can make your brand come off as fussy and disorganized. Logos should be clean, use no more than three or four colors, no more than two fonts, and should be immediately recognizable. Consider it time for a new logo if your current mark does not fit that description.
Example: The old MasterCard Logo had two interlocking circles with several lines where the two circles overlapped. The old logo also employed a black “shadow” of the MasterCard letters behind a serif typeface, resulting in a logo that looks downright claustrophobic compared to the simple, clean, sans serif look of their recent rebrand.
Reason #4: The Purpose or Scope of Your Business has Changed
Many business owners feel that they are stuck with a logo, even when the purpose or scope of their business has changed. The truth is, many major brands make both minor and major adaptations to their logos to more accurately represent their changing audience or company culture. If your company has recently acquired new assets, added new service areas, or simply grown larger, you may be in need of a logo redesign.
If your company has realigned its corporate values to reflect a core belief system, such as sustainability, or diversification, your logo should reflect these changes in your culture.
Example: Before they ruled the world, Apple Macintosh was more of a niche brand that catered to the tech savvy and the arts community. Their iconic rainbow apple mark with a bite taken out of it was a nod to Sir Isaac Newton, who famously uncovered his theory of gravity when an apple fell on his head. What many people don’t know is that the rainbow apple was not the first logo for Apple Macintosh. Their original mark was a busy, overly intricate drawing of Newton sitting under the apple tree (see reason #3 above to find out why this was not a good idea), but they changed it to the simple, rainbow apple in 1977 to reflect Apple’s color display and to make the brand more appealing to school children . This would not nearly be the last time they made adjustments to their logo to fit their changing audience. From 1998, when Apple finally ditched the rainbow logo until now, the “bitten apple” logo has gone through 4 more iterations, each representative of some change in vision that the brand wanted reflected in their logo mark.
Reason #5: Your Marketing Needs Have Changed
Changing marketing needs could be lumped into reason #4, but for the sake of thoroughness, a logo rebrand should be considered when your marketing strategy has changed. For instance, if your company has been selling flowers out of a small storefront, and you find yourself suddenly looking at warehouse space because you want to be able to ship nationally, your marketing needs and strategy are bound to change. What may have been an appropriate logo for a small flower shop may not translate well to a vinyl delivery vehicle wrap or a giant billboard. More often than not, a company will revisit logo design only when forced to by situations such as these, and it is very scary to wait until your company is on the precipice of growth to also commit to a rebrand.
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. Don’t wait until your company has growing pains to develop a logo befitting an operation of high caliber. You don’t have to be a big business to have a great logo, but you do have to hire a professional with experience and insight into what makes a brand successful.