2012 was the year of major brand redesign. Some of the worlds biggest brands like eBay and Microsoft ditched their familiar images for straighter, simpler, and more serious versions of their previous looks. In this post we will review some of these logo designs and track the overall trend of a cleaner and more graphically adaptable brand that company’s are taking through-the-line.
Whether you agree or disagree with the following comments and opinions, hopefully this post will give you some insights into the way these major brands have taken their image in 2013 and how you can apply these findings to your own branding or re-branding.
Microsofts rebrand was a big deal. They had clung onto their wavy windows logo since 1987. But with the release of Windows 8 and IE9, the company obviously felt the need to modernize and synergize their image to compete with Google, Apple and other technology companies whose branding has been very uniform and has often made Microsoft look like the uncool and confused dad of technology!
To be honest, I think the change went a little bit unnoticed by most people. Designers and visual experts, in particular, were somewhat unerwhelmed by the changes. Armin Vit, the famous logo and rebranding expert reacted to the logo change as; “A slow evolotion to the point where this new logo is revealed…and it doesn’t feel like the company has changed.”
But for all the criticism, I personally think that Microsoft has made a positive change with its new brand treatment. It is following a very definite corporate trend over the last few years to simplify and unify a brand image. As we can see in the unified brand image below, Microsoft has definitely made an effort to create a distinctive look across their product platforms to synergize with their their main brand logo – tidying up the loose ends of what had become a very dislocated brand.
In contrast to the Microsoft logo that has gone for simplicity, Univision released a new glossy 3D look in 2013 that presented themselves as innovative and super modern. In my opinion, this new logo would have been far more successful if they had kept the flat version of their “U” icon (although, to be fair, I’ve never been a fan of gradients and three-dimensional logos)
3. USA Today
USA Today is another company that has had the same logo since its inception in the 80’s. Frankly, it was due a redesign. Again, this new logo represents the stark simplicity of 2012. More modern, yes, but it could be argued that there new look is underdeveloped as a concept. Is a big blue dot a bit too overly simple as a representation of an info-filled world?
The online behemoth decided to redesign in 2012. They simplified the slightly madcap logo that made them famous in the 90’s and went for an “all grown up” image. In many ways, I think the dramatic change to the logo is a reflection of the serious reality of our recession era and the changing role of the company iteself. Judging by its new logo, eBay now sees itself as a place of serious business rather than the place where people used to have fun buying and flogging their old junk?
5. Associated Press
Another huge company that redesigned in 2013 and another company that has quite literally straightened themselves out with their logo redesign. An improvement on the original that sported a very odd salmon pink color, but why so serious with the super-aggressive black and red color scheme?
JCPenney has tried to modernize its brand for some years now and adopted a lower-case copy redesign in 2012. Slightly softer looking text treatment but adding an “emergency” red and blue color scheme to much of their branding pieces. Very immediate, but I wonder whether their square logo design is a bit too severe for a department store?
Arby’s are trying to modernize their look. For their 50th birthday celebration they ditched their 50 year-old cowboy hat logo for a 3D line. I must confess to being slightly baffled by the logo? There’s a weird perspective mix between flat font and 3D elements that don’t make sense? It’s a logo that definitely positions Arby as a forward-facing company, but I feel that there was a big miss in the logo execution.
8. Lifetime Channel
I think it’s fair to say that Lifetime Channel has struggled with its brand position over the last 20 years. This is the 3rd redesign since its inception in 1982. However, on a design level, I think they have a good balance in positioning themselves as both “feminine” and as a “channel to be taken seriously” with their latest logo. Switching to an icon driven logo is always a good idea for TV channels (on a practical level, people can pick out a channel very easily in the channel menu when presented with a symbol rather than a font) their latest redesign of an exclamation “L” is visually distinct.
Old fashioned hamburgers got an new fashioned redesign in 2012. Wendy’s dropped the “old-timey barn door” image for a cutesy modern appearance. Wendy got a more grown-up face for their TV commercials and for their logo design. Not a cutting –edge redesign but the loose script and simplified design elements have pushed out the old fashioned hamburger image and given the chain a new “bubblegum” feel that feels far more relevant and competitive to a modern audience.
This company cannot make up their minds! Since 1991, they have had 4 logo redesigns. The latest of which is this big and colorful “H” logo with gradients, perspective, 3D and all the bells and whistles! It’s definitely modern and eye-catching but I’ve never been the biggest fan of complex gradient filled logos (even for web-based companies.) This is definitely a logo that bucks the current trend of logos that are going simple and uncluttered.
11. Sci Fi Channel (Australia)
Another complex 3D logo that went against the grain of simplified logo design in 2012 and another company that has struggled with their branding. However, unlike the Hotels.com logo that feels a little clunky, I think the new Australian Sci-Fi channel logo has a really sophisticated appearance that feels like an object from another world and suits the audience to a tee. A big improvement on the confusing “SyFy” re-brand that the US channel currently rocks. Rumor is that the Australian Sci-Fi re-brand is “under consideration” by its US counterpart.
The Twitter icon got a revamp in 2012 with the twitter bird growing up and taking up a prouder and more serious stance. Not a particular revolutionary or even necessary change. More like a haircut and a wing-flap!
13. Kraft Foods
This is less of a redesign and more of a rewind. In 2009 Kraft foods introduced a hideous bubblegum pink and blue firework logo to replace their iconic logo of 109 years. This really was a baffling move by the food magnates and made little sense? Unsurprisingly, people did not like the 2009 redesign and the company saw sense and adopted a redesign of the original in 2012 that retained elements of the original color and shape. The latest version has a lower case font treatment to soften its look, whilst simultaneously re-hardening its appearance with a more vivid blue and red color choice. When it comes to the branding of established companies, maybe people shouldn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken in the first place?
14. American Airlines
For commercial reasons I can understand why the struggling airline might want a fresh start and identity but I’m not entirely convinced by American Airlines latest re-brand? There’s definitely a simple sophistication in their new logo that suggests comfort and ease but the previous American Airlines logo had lasted for 40 years without a redesign? Looking at it now, it still looks modern and powerful. By dropping the bold Helvetica font and creating a more abstract and soft-colored icon, they’ve somewhat lost the bold and confident company statement that they used to convey. But maybe a soft and comfortable statement will resonate more with modern passengers?
Since its inception in 2008, MGD was never the “chugging party beer” that they probably thought it was going to be. To be honest, it’s more of an “old guy slamming a mass of cans while he works on his truck kind of brew”. To bring the brand into line with its original intent, MGD has rebranded itself as Miller64 and swapped its salt-of-the-earth style beer logo for a younger and cooler look. No longer so “square”, Miller 64’s is appealing to party boys with a design that is the logo equivalent of a sporty red Ferrari! A vast improvement on the old one.
Admittedly, I’m a little perplexed by this weightwatchers rebrand? I didn’t much like the old logo that looked like a font with a whirlpool on the end of it but the new one has just as many problems. Although it’s a more obvious and literal description of the brand, it just seems so impractical as an actual logo? A logo that vanishes can’t be easily transferred to print and packaging and the dark grey color choice gives it an almost “spooky” feel? If this copy read “ghostwatchers” instead of “weightwatchers”, it would make a great logo for a horror flick!
Of all the company logos reviewed in this blogpost, Shutterstock has had the most brand redesigns. None of their logos have been particularly bad and are very reflective of the changing trends of web design; from their original camera logo that was very obvious and descriptive to their 2011 logo that was as simplified and “bare-bones” as you can get. I think they have come to a happy medium with their 2012 logo that is simple but has a lot more color and personality. The design crop “o” shape is a nice touch and overall, it looks easy and modern.