Public Success & Failure of Logo Design & Brand Identity

In this ADD digitalized present day situation where people don’t have the patience to sit down and watch a half hour TV show, let alone read a book, the logo of a company is becoming increasingly important. It is that two-second immediate recognition for any brand. The logo is the center of your brand identity, and it will eventually be on everything from ceramic mugs to mouse pads, not to mention business cards and your website.

Whether you’re a massive company with a 20 person board that will debate the merits of font choice or a small corner store, you can create a strong brand identity, or a very weak one. Lately, there have been some very public successes and failures in the digital world when it comes to brand and repositioning.

Perhaps one of the greatest case studies for the successful changes in a log would be Starbucks. Whatever you may feel for the global coffee chain, you have to admit that, for the most part, they are obviously doing something right with their branding and their brand identity.

With their logo changes of the years, Starbucks has always been subtle; small little tweaks have been made that have always corresponded with some sort of brand repositioning. For this most recent logo redesign, it is a bit more noticeable. Starbucks reversed the colour scheme and dropped their name from the logo, focusing instead on the mermaid (as well as rounding her out a bit more).

Starbucks has usually been pretty transparent about the reasoning behind  their logo changes, and their extensive research here is no different. What they have found is that rounded logo designs are more appealing – how exactly, I’m not sure – to the Asian market, which is where Starbucks is looking to expand the most in the coming years.

The change to the Starbucks logo, and thus the identity of  Starbucks – is one that makes sense. It was not drastic, well crafted and thought out. And Starbucks has the brand loyalty and staying power to bounce back from any unhappiness from the loyal crowd after the shock of a logo change.

Gap, on the other hand, didn’t do nearly as well as Starbucks did with their new logo in October of 2010. In fact, they did so poorly that they reverted back to the old logo. As states quite well, “Gap has built a solid brand since its humble beginnings in 1969 as a Levi’s and record store. So why trade that for Helvetica (and an awkwardly placed square)?”

That quite well sums up what people thought of the “more modern” Gap logo – Helvetica and an awkwardly placed square. It didn’t make sense for the Gap identity, and there was a huge public outcry over social media channels about how awful of a choice it was.

So what did Gap do? They turned to the crowds and said that they could design a new Gap logo. That didn’t go over so well. Designers were quite offended because Gap was asking them to work for free to redesign a logo that wasn’t ultimately broken. The redesign didn’t make any sense, and the public could determine that – why change the logo of a brand that has been around for a very long time (in terms of brands) without any kind of major repositioning in the works? It just doesn’t make sense.

Later in October, after first offering the redesign to the masses, Gap announced it was returning to the old logo.

Changing a logo, then – is something that needs to be well thought out because even small changes can cause an uproar, let alone big ones.

Photos courtesy of Starbucks and Huffington Post