As you may be aware, the J.M. Smucker’s Company recently unveiled a new logo as part of a corporate identity overhaul. With a business that continues to expand beyond just the J in our beloved PB&Js, Smucker’s felt that an evolved business (coffee, pet food, peanut butter, and snack categories) needed an evolved logo to match.
Whether you like the end result – or not – it got us thinking about the process and what brands really need to understand before making such a major decision (especially for a legacy brand like this one).
While a huge lift both logistically and strategically, there are several instances where introducing a new logo is totally worth it. We recommend focusing on the following five factors in order to determine whether a logo evolution is right for you and your brand.
1.Brand Restructuring: If a brand is starting to grow into a brand family with sub brands and/or products, it may be a good time to consider the current logo. Does the existing mark still fit within how you imagine the brand in five or 10 years? If the logo still aligns with your short and long-term goals, how can the logo work to support extensions into other brands and products? Perhaps it is a good time to introduce a parent brand (with its own unique logo in order to build consistency within a brand family) or create a brand family structure.
2. Digital Functionality: Brands that were born before digital marketing really took off, may find that their logo no longer functions efficiently. There are lots of logos that can’t function at small sizes and when used online, it only exacerbates the issues. If systematic thinking and scaling functionality on a digital landscape was not considered, you may have to re-think the design in order to bring branding elements into online materials.
3. Brand Offerings or Product Evolution: A shift in a brand’s product offerings certainly could be a viable reason to explore a new logo. Perhaps the mark no longer stands for the product offerings. As mentioned, Smucker’s recently announced a new logo for its parent brand. While in this case a new logo was dictated by changing product offerings, the new mark is a visual departure from the original, which is a risky move for a legacy brand like Smucker’s.
4. Name Change or Merger: If your brand name is changing, it can make sense to consider a logo adjustment. Instead of retrofitting the existing logo to the new name, ask if this is the time to explore a new look to accompany the name change.
5. Innovative Brand Image: If a brand is trying to present itself as modern, digital and forward-thinking, its logo should reflect that. A visually dated logo will undermine all brand marketing efforts that aim to convey an innovative brand image. Therefore, it is smart to invest in new branding, making marketing dollars go further.
Even when brands fall into one of the categories above, a new logo should be considered carefully. You’ll need to change everything from business cards to new signage (which can get pricey depending upon sponsorship, property, etc.). A brand also must consider the equity inherent in its current logo and decide if a complete revamp is worth pursuing.
Here are some strategic questions we discuss with clients when considering a new logo:
- Do you need a rebrand or only a refresh? Sometimes, especially with legacy brands, starting over on key branding elements can be extremely time consuming, and you may even risk alienating your existing brand fans. A new logo isn’t the only way to achieve an improved visual identity, so it’s important to decide whether or not a refresh can accomplish your goals. A great example of this is CBS’ recently unveiled brand refresh. The iconic and instantly-recognized eye logo is a key element for this legacy brand that remains present, but refreshed brand elements include new audio and visual cues to bring the brand into the modern era.
- Are you considering all applications and extensions? If you’ve already decided a new logo is the best route for your brand, it’s best to start there. However, it’s important to think beyond just the logo and be thoughtful about the entire ecosystem. Consider the following questions when designing a new logo in order to ensure that the redesign is something that can remain relevant over time.
- Have you considered all the versions of the logo? There will be a primary logo, but will you also need secondary and tertiary level logos? Have you considered how a tagline with lockup or legal marks will look? How would a mark-only version work? Will that mark scale appropriately for social and other digital needs, like a favicon or app icon?
- How would it look on packaging? Is the logo representing a physical product? Packaging can always become an extension of the branding, as done by brands like E Cloth and Johnny Cupcakes
- Can animation further bring your logo concept to life, and be leveraged in digital platforms?
- Is there an element of the logo that can be extended throughout marketing materials?
As you can see, changing a logo, while exciting, is no simple, easy or inexpensive endeavor and therefore should be given considerable thought before pursuing. We all love a great rebrand, but word to the wise: look before you leap.