Logo Redesign–Don't Mess with a Good Thing

If done right, your company logo will become the face of your brand. At Laughing Samurai, we believe less is more. Tone down the make-up. Accent your finer features. If you’re happy and you know it, don’t frown.
Ok, we understand, it’s not always the case that friendly people have welcoming eyes and crazy people have googly ones. Predatory people don’t always have ferocious teeth. While this would make the destiny of relationships a lot easier to predict, a human’s face just doesn’t work this way. Luckily, logos are not humans.
Just how important are faces? Close your eyes and picture your best friend. You identify an image of your friend with an image of his/her face, right? We assume there’s a whole lot more to your best-friend, perhaps the ability to listen, say the right thing, make a good joke, or even convince people to chug a gallon of almond milk in under five minutes. But we don’t picture these qualities. We can’t. We picture the concrete, the consistent. Images. Faces. Call us superficial, but we’re only human (although we’re still looking into Gilbert).
Now close your eyes and picture Nike. If you don’t see the pervasive and iconic “swoosh,” keep it to yourself–you’re ruining our experiment. The “swoosh” symbol has been so effective through the years, Nike has the rare ability to spell their name without using letters. That’s the power of a consistent and effective logo. There’s a reason Nike hasn’t changed their trusty logo since its creation in 1971. It works.
How would you feel tomorrow if your best-friend of ten-plus years walked into your house with a misplaced nose, two different shades of eyes, and an unflattering new wig?
Well, that’s how we feel when we look at some of these recent logo redesign mishaps.

Gap’s Recent Logo Redesign

Gap suffered a heavy backlash in 2010 after changing their logo of twenty years. Gap took things outside of the box. Literally. They switched to the Helvetica font, shrunk the blue square, and moved it to the upper right corner of the brand name. After a couple of days and hundreds of critics, Gap decided to ditch the new logo and return to what was working. But this didn’t come without loss. Gap had already spent one million dollars promoting their new logo and brand image. The word “oops” comes to mind.

Pepsi’s Recent Logo Redesign

Pepsi has kept the same basic wave in their logo since the early 1930’s. In 2008, Pepsi distorted the wave and changed to a lighter typeface in effort to shift toward a cleaner, stronger brand image. To keep the familiarity of the “wave,” they incorporated it into the “e” (look closely). Around here, we call that “trying too hard.”
Pepsi received enough positive feedback to follow through with the switch, but not without some harsh and poignant criticism. Our favorite: “It looks like a hybrid of the Mac look and the Obama logo.” Why did they mess with it? To us, the “old” logo looks stronger and more appealing. Also, you can’t do this with the old logo:

Gatorade’s Recent Logo Redesign

Two years ago, Gatorade dropped the latter seven letters of its name and quickly discovered not many people had ever heard of a beverage company called “G.” The new logo/packaging provided Gatorade an unwelcome sales decrease of 13.7% in the first quarter. Its market share decreased 6.3%. Gatorade stood by their new logo and the culture has settled into it. But we’ve yet to find if it has earned them any new customers.

Tropicana’s Recent Logo Redesign

What happened to the iconic orange with a straw poked in it? That was awesome. After the package redesign, the Tropicana Pure Premium line sales plummeted 20% between January 1st and February 22nd, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars. And that’s not all. Tropicana’s competitors benefited from the misstep, most notably Minute Maid, Florida’s Natural, and Tree Ripe. Varieties within each of these brands posted double-digit unit sale increases during the period.

Moral of the Story

Many people don’t like change. Especially consumers. Consumers buy things they trust. When something changes with it, especially its physical appearance, they grow suspicious.
So here’s the rule. Use the diaper method. If it stinks, change it. If it doesn’t, leave it alone.
How do you know if something stinks? Hire a good branding agency.