Trained or untrained eye, sometimes it’s clear that a logo no longer holds up in the marketplace. Maybe it relies too heavily on past design trends and hasn’t aged well. Or frankly, maybe it was poor design from the start. On the flip side, even the most well-designed logos can periodically benefit from a design update that better reflects an evolution of the business (see the Rolling Stone evolution below). But it can be scary to think about scrapping a longstanding logo and wandering out into the design unknown, especially when considering the identity equity that’s been built up over several years of business existence.
It’s not always necessary to start from scratch to show progress. There is a way to maintain some of that familiarity while showing the world your logo belongs in the modern day. It’s called a logo refresh and here are some components to consider.
One of the fastest ways to see real improvement in logo design is to evaluate the typeface, whether custom or out of the box, and adjust for current brand personality traits and/or communications goals. Brands evolve and market tastes change, oftentimes the typography utilized in the original logo design can begin to feel outdated or simply no longer represents the brand effectively. We worked through something similar with Timmy Global Health (below).
For example, incorporating a typeface with more uniform lines can add modern appeal, adjusting weight and kerning can tilt the scale of sophistication and drama. Better typeface design is often a prerequisite to helping a logo reach its full potential.
Color & Contrast
Color plays an important part in the visual recall of brand identity. Coca-Cola red, Starbucks green, etc. Incorporating the right color palette can help convey the right brand intentions and creates a more memorable connection. Color psychology isn’t a hard and fast rule for branding but certainly is worth considering. There’s a reason why most financial institutions are represented in greens and blues not red.
The wrong hue can also impact initial perceptions of value. Color can make a logo looks flat, ordinary, cheap even if it is representing a premium product. Shifting the shade of a color can help add needed weight to the design. Adding a complementary or foundational hue can provide contrast and fresh appeal.
Dropbox (below) not only simplified the shape and blue on their icon but also changed the wordmark to black, helping to anchor the design and create contrast.
Space & Balance
Not too long ago, YouTube redesigned its logo, cleaning up the type slightly, but more obviously, incorporating the red tv shape aligned left as a new standalone mark instead of as part of the name. The new alignment gives the logo better balance, an updated look, and a more versatile design.
Improving space and balance doesn’t mean everything has to be symmetrical but it does mean considering all the ways and sizes your logo may be represented.
Having said all of this, each opportunity for logo refresh will require an individual approach. Though he wasn’t a designer, nor was he referencing design in this instance, I’m always reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein that goes, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
When in doubt, during your logo refresh, simplify.