Yahoo snagged some headlines by updating their iconic logo. The company launched a marketing campaign around the logo redesign where they posted a different logo on the site every day leading up to the final iteration. While Yahoo’s revised logo ultimately received mixed reviews, it has opened up the conversation about the value of logo redesigns for brands.
Many organizations we work with ask the same trifecta of questions when it comes to their logos: Why should I update my logo? When should I update my logo? How should I update my logo? In today’s blog, we’ll help provide some answers to these essential logo questions.
WHY: Key Benefits of a Strong Brand Logo
A quick glance at your logo can give an individual the impression your organization is modern and professional or outdated and amateur. Here are three benefits of a well-thought-out and effective logo:
It reflects your brand identity
A strong logo gives people a sense of what you do and who you do it for. Obviously, a single image can’t say it all. But in subtle and even subconscious ways, it can say a lot. Think of Nike’s swoosh as an example. The swoosh logo creates the impression of motion and speed. It also has meaning: It represents the wings of Nike, the Greek goddess that symbolized victory.
It establishes a sense of trust
A simple, polished logo creates trust between individuals and your organization. Viewing a visually appealing logo legitimizes your organization in people’s mind. A strong presentation leads to a strong perception. On the flip side, a poorly crafted logo creates skepticism and distrust of your organization. Think about the bad logos you’ve seen—how did it make you feel about the organization?
It helps you stand out from the crowd
A recognizable logo is a way to stand out. It’s an opportunity to seed your brand in the brains of consumers. The more people who know and remember your logo, the more established your brand becomes. Think about the truly iconic logos—Apple, Coca-Cola, BMW—and how ingrained those brands are in our culture. They all have a huge marketing advantage over the competition.
WHEN: Signs It’s Time for a Logo Redesign
So how do you know when it’s time to redesign your logo? Here are a few key indicators your logo needs a revival:
It makes people think they traveled back in time
Think about visiting a website designed a decade ago. Or a house decorated in the 1980s. You can easily tell it’s dated. Trends and tastes change, and that can affect perceptions of your logo. What was once modern and compelling can lose it’s power over time. When people see a logo that looks outdated, they perceive an organization as out-of-touch with modern best practices. A good rule of thumb is to at least consider updating your logo once every five years.
It doesn’t represent your evolution
Nonprofits and businesses evolve. They have to in order to survive. You grow your organization based on opportunities and strengths. That means you may not be the same business as when you started. Or your nonprofit may have honed in on what was once a small part of your mission. As a result, your logo no longer accurately reflects what you do and who you do it for. If that’s the case, your logo may not be “you” anymore and its time to bring it back in line with your organization.
It’s not in synch with your rebranding
Maybe your business hasn’t changed but how you present it to the world has through a rebranding or repositioning effort. Whenever you undertake a rebranding, you should make sure updating your logo is part of your effort. Your logo is a brand reflection and you always want them to be on the same page. Even if you still like your logo, it’s a good idea to give it a polish as part of your overall rebranding effort.
HOW: Tips for Maintaining an Effective Logo
When you decide it’s time to do some work on your logo, here are a handful of tips for getting it right—and keeping it right:
Make it simple
Since your logo is a singular visual representing the entirety of your nonprofit or business, your initial temptation will be to pile every aspect of your organization into the tiny image. Resist that temptation! Think about the logos for Target or Google or MTV. They’re all simple, but they incorporate ideas and design elements that reflect the purpose of the organization. The best logos find ways to say a lot with very little—a font, the use of lines and shapes, or the choice of color (or lack thereof). The simplest logos tend to be the most long-lasting and iconic.
Test it outside
You know your organization. You know what you do and who you do it for. You are biased. Sure, everyone can have an opinion. But your opinion of your logo is skewed. It’s always a good idea when redesigning to get opinions of your current logo and any potential new logos from people who have no idea who you are. Find out whether they react positively to the logo, how it makes them feel and what it makes them think about the organization.
Assess it and refresh it
Yahoo got a lot of heat because their new logo looks similar to the old one. But that’s really the purpose of a refresh. In most cases, like Yahoo’s, you’re not trying to change entirely—but simply breathe new life into the logo. Make it look like it exists “in the now”. To that end, it’s a good idea to regularly assess your logo to see if it still holds up. Does it show any of the three signs listed above? If so, don’t be afraid to make some adjustments (look how Starbucks regularly evolves their logo).
An Important Piece of the Marketing Puzzle
Just like your website, your logo creates an immediate impression. Within seconds of viewing, it gives people a perception of your business or nonprofit that can be tough to shake. A logo is not the end-all be-all of your organization, but, like all marketing efforts, it certainly makes a difference. It’s an important piece of the marketing puzzle.
There’s no definitive time when you should redesign your logo. But you can probably take a hard look at your logo and intuition will tell you if it’s time for an update. If you look at your logo and it just doesn’t represent who you are as an organization—today, at this very moment—you might want to think about making some changes.
Having a strong image that represents your brand that people can easily visualize when someone mentions your company name certainly won’t hurt your business. On the other hand, having a generic or dusty logo that turns off potential leads just might.