Good Logo Redesign Gone Bad: How to Save a Rebranding Flop

Posted on in Blog

Remember that disastrous logo redesign by the Gap in 2010? Yeah, we wish we didn’t either. This parody sums it up perfectly:

Rebranding a logo is tricky business. Sometimes your hard work on a new look gets harsh and immediate public backlash instead of the oohs and ahhhs you were hoping for. Still, all is not lost if your initial idea doesn’t pan out; failed logo changes can be salvaged!

What do you do when your new logo debut goes wrong? Here are some options for next steps:

1. Walk It Back

Given the understandable outcry about their ill-fated new logo, of all the choices the Gap could have made back in 2010, going back to the classic logo was probably their best option. The original look was not only more interesting than their clipart monstrosity, but it also held hard-earned brand recognition.

A more modern version of a failed logo launch is the 2018 switch from IHOP to IHOb … and the switch back just days later. While the company admitted (or very cleverly pretended) that it was all a marketing ploy to promote their hamburgers, the quick revert is something that can come in handy when a new logo (and in this case, name change, as well) really tanks.

Learn from the mistakes of other rebrands by putting out a new logo you can be proud of with a few tips from our design and branding team. Here are two ways to help avoid a PR disaster:

1. Invite creative logo design from your colleagues

Don’t leave it all to the designers: invite feedback and ideas from the rest of your colleagues. Even if there aren’t many or any artists in the office, it could help get new ideas flowing on the design team. If nothing else, it can provide a fun bonding experience as you all try to create something that won’t stir another public outcry.

2. Hold a public “new logo” design contest

Over the years, asking for entries from the public has given us some of the most iconic symbols in the world. Just ask the then-23-year-old Gary Anderson, who designed the iconic recycle logo in a contest hosted by the Container Corporation of America in 1970.

When you open a design contest to the public, be prepared for a lot of jokes and unusable submissions. But you should also expect a lot of brand engagement and possibly increased public interest as people compete to be the best at redesigning your logo. (Just in case, keep your old logo if none of the submitted designs are up to snuff.)

2. Choose Between Maintaining Brand Value vs. Chasing Modern Logo Design Trends

Brand value can’t and shouldn’t be pushed aside for the latest trend. Just think of the terrible possibilities: The day Coca-Cola replaces its iconic, retro font with a soulless sans serif is the day logo design has finally fallen to pieces. While sleek, sans serifs and minimalist design work for some companies – we like to think we’re included in that group – not everyone needs to dump personality-packed logos for the same sleek trend. Reebok went through a few logo redesigns since 2000, experimenting with “modern,” text-only looks before settling on one in 2019 that’s closer to what their brand looked like in the late ‘90s.

3. Overhaul Your Logo Design Process

While the brand might be flagging, we have to applaud JCPenney for the callback to the classic department store logo look. After going through eight logo iterations in 19 years, JCP finally turned to something COMPLETELY different than their minimalist font/font-in-a-box look. At the very least, it has a more character-filled look now. (Pro tip: The only thing worse than bad logo design is constantly rebranding. It’s never best practice to change your look every two to three years like this.)

4. Stay the Course When You’re Confident in Your New Design

Sometimes, what’s ridiculed as bad design is really consumers being resistant to change. Customers might have affinity for your former logo or simply be overwhelmed by a massive overhaul. While going from an interestingly designed logo with lots of detail to a more minimalist look can go horribly wrong, it can also be an effective move when done well. (Pro tip: Take care not to erase all your brand’s personality with the change.)

Instagram changed its logo from a detailed picture of a retro Polaroid camera to a flatter, more subtle design in 2016. (Arguments can be made that it’s a little too subtle … guess who just realized that the Polaroid look is a nod to Insta’s square format? Even interacting with social media most days, we only just caught on to this reference.) However, they kept the logo brightly colored and included an icon to invoke the Polaroid look. While people kicked up a fuss at the beginning, Instagram has been going strong with the logo ever since. They’ve only made one minor update to it since 2016.

For Logo Redesign, Turn to the Professionals

If your design team is overwhelmed (or you don’t have one), professional designers are always there for you. Whether you’re fresh out of ideas, not used to working with logos or just need the outside eyes, our branding development services can help you find your footing. Give us a call at (231) 922-9977 or email us to see what we can do for your company, logo, and all.

Up Next

Sitemaps are dedicated files that organize and prioritize every piece of content on your website. Sitemapping helps search engines like Google and Bing make sense of your site’s pages and index the stuff that matters most. Once the lone purview of site administrators and professional SEOs, tools like Yoast, Google sitemaps and CMS platforms like...

Read More