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New logo vs. restyling: what is the best choice for a brand?

Like a building or a custom-made suit, even a logo ages. It can happen more or less quickly, but just as in the case of a building or a suit at some point you can’t look the other way. Even if you have put it off for a long time, it is time to pass the brief to a designer for a new logo. And here the doubt often arises: change it completely or opt for a restyling?

Given that both interventions will have important effects, here are the situations in which I would recommend one of the two options.

mastercard rebranding

When is a simple restyling of the logo worthwhile?

By restyling we mean an optimization of the logo that modifies its shapes, typography and colours in a more or less light way, while maintaining its general recognizability. In some cases, it is the best choice.

1. It is a consumer brand with high visibility and notoriety

If the logo has been on signs, posters and maybe on store shelves for a long time, losing recognition can be a serious damage. A restyling is therefore a must.

2. The logo contains a mascot/character familiar to the public

Characters of this type often have a strong emotional value and losing them risks “emptying” the brand. It is better to update them and give them new life.

3. The logo contains references to the company’s heritage

A certain typography or graphic sign can be part of the history of the brand and therefore have a value not only of recognizability but of “guarantee”. In these cases the designer’s task is to enhance and update these elements.

4. The logo has been made recently and people like it, but it has some technical limitations

It may happen that a logo that also convinces everyone shows, as it is used in different contexts (e.g. very small or very large prints, video or web, co-presence with other logos) design defects. In this case the designer can surgically intervene on critical aspects.

Airbnb rebranding logo

An entirely new logo loses almost all contact with the previous one, often intentionally. Not only that, but it also expresses very different values and concepts. In some cases, it is the obligatory choice.

1. You want to communicate a strong renewal of the company

A new property, a new industrial direction, maybe a new mission: such important changes can motivate the adoption of a logo that symbolizes this step. Changing the logo can be especially significant when the company emerges, renewed, from a crisis of results or trust.

2. The old logo contains anachronistic references

In some cases the logo may use symbols and concepts that are no longer relevant or have become incomprehensible to the public. In this case a change of logo is urgent and necessary.

3. The old logo is no longer aligned with the values of the company

Historical logos, born in contexts with different value sets, can be offensive today. In a more or less unconscious way, those who designed them at the time included elements that we now consider racist, sexist or generally unacceptable. In this case, to limit oneself to rejuvenating it would be an own goal: as if to say that we want to bring this vision into our era.

4. The logo is identical to another, pre-existing one

It may come as a nasty surprise to discover that the logo that had developed is identical to that of another brand. Beyond the dishonesty or lightness of those who designed it, such a discovery does not leave much chance.

5. The logo, if you look closely, is ugly

Come on, it happens. Maybe it was done in a hurry, or created by a committee, or approved by someone who’s gone in the meantime. Unless it has a great value of recognition, in these cases it is better to be honest and simply change it.

But big brands don't always do that!

Given that these rules are not absolute, it must be said that big brands don’t always make the right choice.

Tropicana rebranding fail

Think of the famous case of Tropicana, which spent $35 million to launch a new packaging (with a new logo). The result? A 20% drop in sales and a hasty return to the old logo.

luxury fashion brands rebranding

Matteo Sublimio Founder & Creative Director
AUTHOR:

Matteo Modica
Founder & Creative Director

A tireless purveyor of quality, Matteo manages every branding and communication project down to the details, leading creative teams to always express their best.

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