Think about it: When was the last time within the past five years when a new logo or rebranding effort was met with resounding applause in the blogosphere? . . . Yeah, I’m still trying to think of an example, too.
From the Gap logo debacle late last year (more on that later), to Tropicana getting taken to the cleaners in 2009, the past few years have been tough for the vaunted corporate logo.
As Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at brand research consultancy Millward Brown, noted in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, “2010 was the year that proved that logo change is not always for the better.”
The flip side of this argument, of course, is that quite often, logo changes for brands are necessary and welcomed by consumers and stakeholders. From McDonalds long ago eschewing text for its now-ubiquitous nameless logo, to Apple’s iconic branding mark, companies evolve, their brands change and with that, the ethos and consumer perceptions of the company and its brand evolve as well.
Back in October, I wrote extensively in this blog and in various media comments that Gap’s since-abandoned new logo effort was a short-sighted effort to try to jumpstart lagging sales.
But after seeing some of the quick-fire ridicule this week to Starbucks redesigning its logo — a redesign that largely makes sense (after all, the company isn’t merely a coffee shop anymore) — I’m left pondering the unique challenges that encompass a logo redesign in the digital age.
Certainly, changing a brand’s logos and branding can be an immensely expensive and, often, risky endeavor, no matter the time period it occurs in or the size of the company. But at a certain point, it has to be done — for most companies, at least — to help modernize the company and what consumers think of its products and services.
The real challenge, now, is to figure out how to not let all of the new media choices and engagement opportunities come back and bite us when our brand sticks its neck out there and presents a new image.
I’m not yet convinced it’s an impossible endeavor. But like so many other marketing and PR practices once considered safe and secure, it’s time to throw the old playbook out.
Quite a challenge. What do you think?