Your logo is more than a bit of design and some nice typography – it speaks to your values as a company. It’s partly about the functional quality of your offering, but more than that, it symbolises all the reasons why a customer will buy from you over competitors.
“The logo has evolved from a mark of quality on a product to a visual distillation of a cultural ideal — one that’s capable of accruing or asserting brand equity in a variety of marketing environments and inspiring great allegiance among consumers.” Dan Redding, The History Of Logos And Logo Design
Logos have been around since early man, and rely on a culture’s shared understanding of symbols. It’s why in Western cultures white denotes purity, cleanliness and innocence, while in many Eastern cultures white is a funeral colour.
“The fundamental power of symbols remains the most important element of logo design.”
Why do people buy from you? Are you slick? Funny? On-trend? Premium? Regardless of what you stand for, communicating these values will always be subjective, and will shift with the tides of the zeitgeist. As trends move on, as the understanding of symbols evolve, so too does your logo.
If not, you’ll find that what once meant ‘cool and hip’ is now reading as dry and dusty. In short, refreshing your logo isn’t a vanity move – it’s as crucial as replacing your car every once in a while. Leave it too long and it will simply stop doing the job for which it was intended.
What to expect from a great new logo
It will simplify – or be a total revision. As your brand gets more known, and your business matures and becomes more sophisticated, so will the design elements that represent it.
That, according to The Selective’s branding expert Chris Hay, doesn’t mean your logo can’t also be fun and energetic.
“It’s the design itself that will become more refined. Each logo refresh should take things away, as much as it adds elements.”
Part of why the TV3 "Three" rebrand was hated by so many people was that it completely threw out the previous logo – that’s a whole lot of newness to take. This changed not just the design but the relationship people have with the brand. It’s such a move away from the TV3 they knew (and maybe loved) that it tells people that Three is an entirely new beast. In Three’s case this was probably the right thing to do – the station has been troubled for years with bad press and falling ratings. A logo redesign signals a fresh start for the station.
But if you’re just planning on an update, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – your refresh should carry forward much of the design elements of the previous logo.
It will polarise
Your new logo – regardless of whether it’s a refresh or a whole new design – is about creating something new. And as a general rule, humans have a big problem with newness. this study even suggests that the longer something has been around, the more highly we regard it. On the flip side, novelty is something our brains seek, it gives us a dopamine hit, which is why we don’t like eating the same thing for dinner every night.
That’s why logo evolution, or refresh, requires specialist skill, particularly when dealing with a well-known brand. It requires a delicate balance – delivering on the thirst for novelty, while treading carefully around our discomfort with newness.
Take the new rebrand of TV3, now just Three, for example.
A complete departure from almost all of the visual language of the previous logo, the only thing that’s been kept is the modular feel, and the bold block graphic styling. It was a brave step – and people hate it. And also love it.
As Chris says, that’s a good result for a new logo.
“If you’re taking such a dramatic step to completely rebrand your company, and people think it’s fine, then you haven’t gone far enough – another year and your logo will feel just as stale as it did before you started.
“If it’s well thought-out and well designed, the haters will start liking it once the shock has worn off.”
It will reflect who you are
“In this corporate formula,” says Naomi Klein, “the brand has little to do with the life of the product. Rather, it is a free-standing idea. The goal of the successful brand has become nothing short of transcendence from the world of things.”
Your new logo should represent who you are as a company.
That’s something Evian learned the hard way. The company, at its heart is a premium brand, but its unchallenged position meant that they’d left their bottle and logo design pretty much untouched for more than a decade. Come the bottled water craze of the last few years, and Evian was losing to more fashionable Smart Water and Fiji Water. Part of that can be put down to the way they looked on the shelf. What was once the high-end of design now looked dated – the packaging equivalent of your nana’s floral couch fabric.
In the words of Eric O'Toole, president of Danone Waters North: “What the other waters did was put pressure on us to contemporize Evian. We realized that our bottle had become a little bit old and dated.”
Essentially, Evian’s inaction had stopped displaying the marks of quality it needed to compete.
How old is your logo?
Does it still say the things you need it to say? Chances are, if your logo is more than five years old, it’s starting to get rusty and will be undermining your overall marketing performance. Build some budget into your next marketing push to refresh your brand and you’ll make the most of everything you do.
For a chat about your company logo and branding review to the design experts at The Selective.