Rebranding: How to evolve your logo

by Ben Harbinson
on 19 Oct, 2017
Ben Harbinson

“There are three responses to a piece of design: yes, no, and wow! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser

Just like people, a company will grow, change and transform over time. This natural progression is necessary for your business to stay at the forefront of the latest industry advancements and to better position yourself in the ever-changing minds of your consumers. No brand should ever be left static. This is especially true when it comes to your logo.

 

Evolution or Revolution?

The big question you must ask yourself before diving into a logo update is – evolution or revolution? It is important to choose a pathway that best suits the objectives of your logo rebrand.

An evolution generally involves slight modifications to components of your existing logo to keep it fresh, contemporary and visually appealing. It is often the safer option if you are already content with some aspects of your logo and do not wish to lose the brand equity or brand awareness that you have worked so hard to build.

Conversely, a revolution can be compared to starting out with a blank canvas. If you are dissatisfied with the logo of your existing brand and want to start again with a complete redesign to present yourself in a new market or industry, then this may be preferred path.

 

Refining your Logo

Truly great logos are instantly recognisable and leave a lasting impression (think Apple or Nike). Whilst the key elements of your logo may remain unchanged, it must still evolve over time to remain relevant and contemporary, particularly if you are in a highly competitive market.

Logo evolution has been practiced by brands for decades. Take a look at the evolution in seconds of the well recognised logos.

All these brands have been continuously refined and updated to keep up with the times, while still maintaining the overall look and feel. We classify these modifications and changes as ‘rebranding’.

“Rebranding is the creation of a new look and identity for a company, a product or a website. It may encompass a complete change of name, logo design, products, market and identity or, just a few minor changes such as a visual redesign or a new marketing strategy that addresses a new social community.” – Ian Paget, Founder of the Logo Geek Community

 

Some examples of our work

At Thirst Creative we have also helped numerous clients evolve and refresh their brand. Here are a few examples.

the transformation and refinement of a pink logoimage of before and after comparison, pink logo, gradient added

before and after visual comparison blue to purple logo

logo refinement example, purple gradient brand comparison

Indicators it’s time for change

Whilst you may not be looking at an all-inclusive rebrand, logo evolution is a necessary process in your company’s brand development. Important signs it might be time for a refresh include:

  • A mismatch between what your brand has to offer and your image. If your brand and company image aren’t currently aligned, it’s likely you’re confusing a lot of prospects and customers.
  • Your brand has an outdated look and feel. Most industries move fast. It’s important to keep up with the latest design trends and fine tune the elements and style of your brand to ensure you’re perceived as an industry leader.
  • Your logo is no longer standing out from the crowd. Your logo is an important visual differentiator for your brand. If your logo is too similar to your competitors, it is likely to blend in and get lost in the market.
  • You are targeting a new demographic. It’s important to make sure your brand appeals to your audience at all times. If you shift your position in the market and direct your offering towards a new target market, your brand may also need to shift. This shift can involve re-branding your logo but it should involve refining your brand personality and voice.
  • You’re not winning over talent. Remember your brand is not just for your customers. It can also shape the impression potential talent has of your company.
  • You have undertaken a merger or acquisition. During a merger, it is an important time to consider rebranding. Establishing a new brand essence and logo will differentiate the new brand from the old ones and help communicate the merge to your audience.

However, it’s important to take caution before jumping into any major decisions about your logo. Consider why you are rebranding and what the benefits to your company or customer will be. Do you have any specific outcomes that you hope to accomplish through changing your logo?

 

Take a good look at your current logo

So you’ve started to ask yourself the hard questions. Now it’s time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. This is possibly the hardest step in the logo evolution process as it requires a high degree of self examination and honesty.

A good way to start is to look within. Schedule a team meeting or create a survey asking for your colleagues’ feedback. Listen to what your team have to say and begin to form a more thorough understanding of the culture that exists in your workplace and your team’s values. If you are going to produce a new logo that truly reflects the mission, values and culture of your brand, then it is important to define these aspects early on. From this, you may then realise that your core brand idea and key messaging need revising.

Next, take a look at what people outside your organisation are saying about your brand via online communities and social media – is this the perception you are after? It is important to consider whether your logo is actually connecting with your audience and attracting the right attention.

Realise more: Find your core brand idea.

 

How to start your rebrand

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to narrowing your brand down to a single image, word, symbol, mark or emblem that will be your logo. Here are a few steps on how to get started with your rebrand process.

Enlist the help of a graphic designer

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a good drawer, we recommend seeking the expertise of a trained professional. A good graphic designer is trained to visually communicate what your brand stands for and will know the colours and fonts that add the psychological cues to make your audience feel a connection when they see your logo.

A designer also knows exactly what a good logo should look like, current design trends, accessibility requirements and how to adapt the design to different media and marketing channels such as your website, apps, printed material (brochures, business cards, pamphlets or storefront signage for example)

Consider your competitors

Before you get any further, consider the logos of your competitors. Aside from the fact that there are legal risks involved if you imitate the branding of another organisation, it is important to forge your own way. If you want to differentiate yourself from others in the market and stand out from the crowd then it is important to avoid using similar colours, images or designs. No one likes a copycat!

Decide on the format of your logo

At the beginning of the redesign process you may need to decide which type of logo will best represent your company. There are four main types of logo formats that you may consider:

  • Wordmark or Wordform – logos that refer to a specific design for the written name (freestanding word or abbreviation) of a brand or product. Think of the logos for eBay, Google, Volvo and Jeep.
  • Letterform – logos that are comprised of a single letter. Examples include Honda, McDonalds and Facebook.
  • Pictorial – logos are illustrated by symbols of recognisable things. The most iconic example of a pictorial logo is Apple.
  • Abstract – logos do not represent anything recognisable but are symbolic, like abstract art. Think of the swoosh symbol for Nike. It’s best to have high brand awareness when taking this road.

Deciding which type of logo will best represent your brand is largely influenced by your business stage, industry, organisation name, values, brand positioning, target market and unique offering. For example, if your organisation has a long-winded name, then a wordmark logo may not deliver the impact you are after.

If you a relatively new brand trying to make a name for yourself it might be worth going for the wordmark or letterform option as this will help build the association between your brand and unique offering. Whatever the type of logo you choose, just ensure that it mirrors the personality of your brand.

Choose the right colour palette

When designing or redesigning your logo, choosing the right colour palette is incredibly important. Colour plays a huge role in the perception of the services, value and personality of your brand. It has the unique capability of conveying a message or meaning without the use of words.

Going with your favourite colour isn’t the best option. Different colours can evoke different psychological responses from people. For this reason, a graphic designer is invaluable. A good designer will have an understanding of colour psychology and can make informed, strategic decisions for your brand.

To learn more about colour psychology: How to pick the right colour for your brand.

Pick a font

Similar to colour, fonts can also trigger different emotional responses. Think about what you want to convey about your brand when choosing the style of font to use.

For example, if you are an investmentment and advisory firm you should be conveying honourability, strength and integrity. Consider using a simple, straightforward, bold font – free of fancy flare. On the other hand, if you are a children’s party organiser you may choose a more whimsical and flourished font that conveys fun, imagination and youthfulness.

This is where graphic designers come in handy (again). Your designer should know fonts like the back of their hand and will be able to pick a font that resonates with your brand.

Altering shapes and simplifying your design

“A design flaw in your logo can interfere with your logos image and effectiveness. While the untrained eye may not be able to spot exactly what’s wrong with the logo from a design standpoint, they may get distracted by it. ” – Cate Hibbins, Graphic Designer at Thirst Creative

If you are working with a graphic designer they will be able to help you alter shapes or simplify the design of your logo. Changes you can make to refine your logo include:

  • Subtle changes to shapes: This can involve sharper corners or creating softer edges. Look back at the Roundabout group logo.
  • Simplifying by removing shadows/unnecessary items. This is the best way to make your logo more versatile. By removing excess clutter you can strengthen and clarify your brand’s identity. Think about our clients the Cica Group’s logo.

 

6 tips for a rebrand success

Ready to take the leap? Keep these tips in mind during your rebranding journey:

1. Do your research
As mentioned above, consult the stakeholders of your brand (ie. employees, board of directors, customers, fans, followers). Understand how people currently view your brand. More importantly, identify what they expect from your brand. Use their feedback to evaluate your current branding strategy. Try presenting them with new ideas and see how they react.

Consult a professional designer to see what is on trend and what elements your logo should keep or discard.

2.Have an integrated brand strategy
Your brand is a 360 degree representation of your organisation. It should have a visual identity, a brand voice, brand values, a brand story and it may even have orosensory factors (Think about how every Country Road store smells the same, this isn’t by accident). A brand strategy will make sure that your brand resonates with the right audience and inform your logo design.

3. Don’t change everything all at once!
Don’t overcomplicate it. If some elements of your logo work, then don’t change them. Your focus should be on redeveloping the elements of your logo that don’t work. One trend in the design industry at the moment is subtle logo refinement. Cutting back the clutter and revealing a more contemporary, refined look.

4.Design for the eyes of your audience
Your consumers are your top priority. Make sure they stay at the forefront of your mind when you are reinventing your visual identity and redesigning your company’s logo. Is your logo going to appeal to them, communicate your business accurately and be aesthetically pleasing?

5.Protect it
You have put time and effort into developing a brand. You need to protect it by writing up guidelines of its application. This is often what we refer to as a style guide and will be at most importance when it comes to you and your staff using your brand on any collateral.

6. Keep it consistent
Consistency is the key when rolling out your new brand. Again this is where your style guide will be golden. Whether your consumer enters a store or lands on your website or social media page, your brand should be consistent. When it comes to rolling out your brand, it’s a good idea to create a brand audit of all your marketing collateral. Identify the priority items (usually those at the beginning of the customer journey) and work your way down the priority list, refreshing and updating, until your entire collateral features your new logo.

 

Things to avoid in the process

During your rebranding journey, try to avoid:

  • Being too trendy – your logo will date fast and you might not have the time or resources to refresh it in the short term. This also makes your logo look more generic and less memorable to consumers.
  • Being too different – if there is no visual link between your past and future logos, you will create confusion amongst existing clients and consumers. You also don’t want to attempt something so ‘unique’ that potential customers run away from you in fear of your authenticity.
  • Adding for the sake of adding – logos by definition are and should be simple marks that leave a lasting impression. Don’t go over complicating things and confusing your consumers.
  • DIY or engaging with (the tempting) cheap overseas outsourced options. If your logo is not quality it will stick out like a sore thumb and your audience will notice. More often than not, people who take the cheap road end up spending more money to fix their logo issues. Keep it professional.

 

Ready for action?

Feel like it’s about time your logo had a makeover? Your brand is a powerful business asset. Fine tuning and improving it can help you achieve more, attract more leads and enter more markets to grow your business.

Whether it’s updating your logo or correcting and refreshing your marketing collateral, our professional team of strategists and graphic designers are happy to help.

You can see more examples of our logo and design work here.

 

Need more branding advice?

Contact Thirst Creative

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