As I struggled and struggled to find a topic to write about this week (I’ll blame this on The Donald) I came across something interesting. When I scrolled through my apps on my phone, I noticed that something seemed a bit off about my Tumblr app: The logo changed. The difference was so subtle that I wasn’t even sure if it did change, so I checked my updates in the app store. Sure enough, I see this:
In four words at the bottom of an app update description that people barely read, Tumblr let us know that they did indeed change their logo from a three dimensional lowercase t to a “flat t”.
This made me wonder about logos in general, and all the things considered when a logo is changed. There is so much psychological and cultural research that goes into why a logo is designed the way it is, but I won’t get into that as it would be impossible to cover in 1200 words. So instead, I will talk about different reasons why a logo is changed.
The design is outdated
This one is simple. Companies have to keep up with the trends in logo design and fit the current culture. Over the past decade, there has been a huge push for minimalist design with simple, monochrome colors. Here are a few examples:
These are just a few examples of companies that have all done the same thing: they made their logo designs simpler. All of them switched to friendlier and bubblier fonts, used colors that are slightly lighter and easier on the eyes, and eliminated any shadows that gave the design a three-dimensional look.
The company’s brand is that strong
When a company reaches a certain level of popularity and brand recognition, they have the opportunity to simplify their logo design since it has become such a household name. Here are some examples:
Both Nike and McDonald’s logos are unmistakable. Because of this, as you can see, they have taken out the names ‘Nike’ and ‘McDonald’s’ from their logo since the name itself is not needed for customers to recognize the brand. By doing this, they have established themselves as more than just a popular sportswear brand and popular fast food brand; they are some of the greatest brands out there, period.
The company has expanded
This reason for changing a logo is similar to the previous reason I gave you, in that it require taking out certain words. However, it is for a different purpose. There are many companies who started out offering a certain product or service, but grew and expanded to start offering other things. This can be seen by companies like Dominos, Starbucks, and Snapchat.
In all of these examples, a word or image has been taken out due to its limiting effect on the brand. For Dominos, they eliminated ‘Pizza’ from the name and logo once they started offering other foods like sandwiches, pasta bowls, and chicken wings. For Starbucks, they took out ‘Coffee’ from the name because they also have grown to offer several more things like breakfast and lunch. The change in the Snapchat logo in 2013 is really interesting, especially considering everything that has happened with Snapchat over the course of this semester with the introduction of the Spectacles and the name change to Snap Inc. Back in 2013 I thought that the logo change was just a shift towards a minimalist logo design, achieved by eliminating the face and making the background one solid color. Now I am realizing that the face itself was also limiting, just like the ‘Pizza’ in Dominos Pizza and ‘Coffee’ in Starbucks Coffee. I believe the ghost face made Snapchat look like a company that only made pictures disappear after they’re opened. When Snapchat realized their potential to expand and dominate the social media space, they probably decided to eliminate the face and just have the popular silhouette of the ghost, which would allow for a greater representation of everything that Snapchat offers.
The company has a bad image
This reason for changing a logo is very important. There are many companies who have developed a bad rep, and because of this, their logos incite negative reactions when people look at them. By changing their logo, they can actually repair their image and rebrand themselves, with the hope that this new logo can provide a clean slate and wipe away any negative emotions brought about by the old logo. Take BP and Uber, for example.
Back in the 1990s, there was terrible public perception of big oil companies, so BP decided to make themselves look friendlier by spending $211 million to unveil a new logo in 2000. As you can see by the new logo, it is way more appealing and automatically invokes happier and warmer emotions than the old logo. It has a burst of color in the shape of a blossoming flower that’s pleasing to the eye, with friendly, lowercase letters as opposed to the aggressive and downright scary look of the uppercase BP in a shield.
Uber is another company that was in desperate need of rebranding. Since its inception, it has been ridden with controversy after controversy, from plotting revenge campaigns against journalists to sexist comments from Uber executives to crazy surge pricing. I can confirm that Uber has a terrible rep. Just the name itself made me feel uncomfortable, and the app before the redesign definitely invoked emotions of distrust and skepticism. Uber definitely realized that they don’t have the greatest rep, so they decided to do a major rebranding, not only of their logo, but their entire app and interface. The result is a friendlier design and better user experience. The minute I started using the new Uber app, I already felt more positive emotions towards the app and the brand in general.
BP is still the same oil company it was before. It’s still doing whatever it can to make the most money possible, regardless of it’s effect on the environment or local populations. Uber is still the same ride-sharing app it was before, with the same sneaky and conniving executives. McDonald’s is still terrible for you, regardless of how sleek, cool and hipster the logo has become! However, these companies have found a way to change public perception of their brand by changing the look of their logo, and have definitely turned a profit because of it. This is the power of branding, and shows just how much a good logo can do for your company.
My question for you is, are you as vulnerable as I am when companies rebrand? Do you still feel the same way towards companies before and after they change their logo?