Famous Logo Redesigns: Did They Help or Hinder The Brand?
From Gap to Google, Mel Luff of BusinessesForSale.com takes a look at a few of the countless rebrands that were met with social-media mockery.
Logos seem to be embedded in our subconscious and we rarely look at them with a critical eye.
After all, we see them every day, we know what they represent and we seldom give much thought to them – until they’re changed that is.
A quick browse of the internet reveals a much longer list of unsuccessful logo redesigns than those that were immediately accepted, let alone lauded.
Last year Google decided to update its well-known, crisp, san-serif font to a mobile-friendly, flatter and more modern typeface.
While the design maintained the classic color scheme – four bright colors across six letters – many didn’t approve, likening it to infantile scribbling, with 70% of those polled by AdvertiseAge agreeing that “I hate it – Fisher Price wants its look back”.
And in comparison to many other disastrous logo designs the response was subdued, did little measurable damage to the company and we seemed to get over it very quickly.
The same can’t be said for fruit juice brand Tropicana. Described as one of the most disastrous rebrands in history, its 2009 makeover recast the logo in a modern font that now ran vertically down, instead of across, the carton, while the signature straw-in-orange illustration was switched to a glass of juice. The old image was reanimated in the shape of an orange-shaped lid.
As a result, Tropicana’s sales plummeted by 20% between January 8 and February 23, forcing it to restore the old brand. The rebrand had cost the company over $50 million.
Admitting their error, Tropicana’s Gina Judge said: “The 2009 redesign was meant to contemporize our graphics and, as a result of that, we learned just how passionate consumers are about our brand.”
Another infamous rebrand was Gap’s doomed 2010 effort. Some people don’t even remember it – and that’s not surprising, because it only lasted a week.
When the apparel retail giant attempted to change its 20-year-old logo to a newer, more modern font with a small blue patch, it was forced to ditch the new design after just a few days following an online backlash.
In response, a create-your-own-logo website called Crap Logo Yourself was launched and a satirical Gap Logo twitter account set up.
In a desperate attempt to turn things around Gap took to Facebook on October 6 to say: “We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so, we’re asking you to share your designs.
“We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd-sourcing project.”
It’s safe to say that this did not go down well and in a matter of days Marka Hansen, president of Gap in North America, conceded defeat, admitting that the “outpouring of comments” showed the company “did not go about this in the right way” and that it would revert back to the original logo.
The world’s fastest-growing peer-to-peer accommodation letting site, San Francisco-based Airbnb, rolled out a new logo and website design in 2014.
There’s no denying that it was a well-needed redesign, but it didn’t come without hiccups.
Firstly, the new logo, designed by London-based firm DesignStudio, was nearly identical to the logo of another business called Automation Anywhere.
Insisting that the likeness was only a coincidence, an Airbnb spokesperson told the BBC: “In early 2014 both Airbnb and Automation Anywhere began use of new logos that, by coincidence, have similar designs.”
Subsequently, Automation Anywhere redesigned its logo to “a new design that is not similar to the Airbnb logo.”
Airbnb named its new logo the Bélo, describing it as a “symbol of belonging”, in the words of co-founder Brian Chesky.
The symbol is a combination of the four symbols that represent the company: a head to represent people, a location pin to represent place, a heart for love and an ‘A’ for Airbnb.
However, the logo design quickly became one of the most mocked rebrands in history. Many noted its resemblance to what can only be described as ‘private parts’ – we’ll leave you to decide.
Why do we hate logo redesigns?
Were these redesigns really all that bad?
In a study of rebrands a team of researchers found that customers “with strong brand commitment will see the original brand logo and the associations as representing themselves and the integral relationship they have with the brand. They are likely to view a change in the logo, which affects these associations, as threatening their self-brand connections and relationships.”
We internalize brands that we admire and subconsciously align ourselves with them.
Logos are the face of these brands’ identity and we often see them every day. So when a brand changes its logo, we expect the underlying brand to change too.
People are more likely to react negatively if they feel that brand is part of their everyday life, something constant and reliable that has changed without their consent and often without warning.
When a brand redesigns its logo it risks alienating its most loyal customers – and with the rise of social media it’s even easier for them to express their dissatisfaction.
Spotify recently changed the hue of its signature green and black icon. Nothing else, just a subtle color change – but that didn’t stop people taking to twitter to rant about it.
Logo redesigns have always been a major talking point and it all comes down to one thing: we just don’t like change.
By Melanie Luff, Online Journalist for BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable including PropertySales.com and FranchiseSales.com.