Re-Designing Your Logo? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes



“Whether you’re scrapping your old logo and starting over entirely from scratch or carrying the best elements forward with a modern update, a logo redesign can be one of your brand’s biggest challenges.”


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

Considering a logo redesign? Think twice before taking the leap! Look no further than GapJCPenny, and USA Today for epic logo redesign fails.

Controversy even surrounded the recent Google and AirBnb logo redesigns. Google had a bottom-up rebrand, rolling out a new logo that retained the classic color scheme but scraped the serif font and used a typeface custom developed in-house. Despite the thoughtful redesign, the reaction was tepid at best.

And for AirBnb, the design community immediately pointed out that its “Belo” design looked awfully familiar to old Automation Anywhere logo – turning what should have been an exciting brand re-launch into a PR fire drill.

Still think you want to rebrand with a new logo? There are plenty of legitimate reasons for changing up your logo. Maybe cash was tight when you started your business, so to save money you cut corners on your logo design– and you’ve regretted it ever since. Or maybe your company has pivoted since it was first founded and you need a fresh new look that better encapsulates your brand.

Whatever the reason, logo changes are often an inevitable part of business growth (just look to Netflix for a successful example). Redesign disasters don’t have to be.

While I may not be a graphic designer myself, I certainly know bad design when I see it– especially when it’s dragging an otherwise strong brand downhill.

But to get the nitty gritty of what makes a logo work (and what doesn’t), I talked to Designhill founder Rahul Aggarwal. DesignHill collaborates with designers all over the world to create crowd-sourced logos at an affordable price-point. He knows first-hand what makes a logo redesign succeed.

“When redesigning a logo, we encourage businesses to isolate the previous logo’s best qualities, focus on the colors that matter most (and let go of the others), and optimize readability,” said Aggarwal. “Managing a logo re-design can be a tricky process that should never be attempted without a well thought out plan and, whenever possible, market research and testing. Never assume that because you like something your consumers will, too.”

Ready to get started? Follow these tips:

1. Isolate your old logo’s best qualities

Some brands, like Morton Salt, have iconic logos that have been around nearly as long as the brand itself. For these redesigns, the key is to embrace new design trends while still holding onto classic traditions.

Even if your old logo has only been around for 10 years rather than 100, there may still be elements worth keeping. Consider the Marriott rebrand: the “M” was already the most unique part of the old log, so the update version turned the “M” into the most prominent element. The logo is modern, clean and plays off the elements from the past, which is key to keeping from confusing consumers.

2. Keep it simple

There’s no need to over-think a redesign. If you have elements from the old logo that you like, such as the color or typography, play off these elements. Consider the Kraft/Heinz rebranding.

When the two food processors merged in July 2015, they unveiled a simple logo that combined their two distinctive logos with a tapered serif. While some critics felt the rebranding was uncreative, the new logo was smart for business. Shoppers won’t be confused, and both brands live on, despite the merger. That’s a win-win!

3. Think about the future

While the media and Twittersphere were busy debating the merits of Google’s logo last fall, most analysts missed one of the logo’s key features. The design is completely scalable, so it looks just as great on an iPhone screen as it does a 4K monitor.

In a world where customers may never see your logo actually in print, creating a clean design that translates well from the smartphone screen to a business card and back to a website is an absolute must.

Bottom line:

Whether you’re scrapping your old logo and starting over entirely from scratch or carrying the best elements forward with a modern update, a logo redesign can be one of your brand’s biggest challenges.

To be successful, you need to balance existing customer expectations and brand relationships with where you envision your business going in the future. As Rahul Aggarwal recommends, slow down, consider your options and – whenever possible – market test the new design. You’ll avoid unexpected surprises!

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here