Being a compact disc in a Spotify world.

Outdated logos and how to fix them.

By Dan Rowell

04 March 2020
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A brand is far, far more than a logo, the latter being the surface level design point of a brand’s identity. It’s still a critical element, though.

Your brand is the overall representation and reputation of your business. Your brand identity is the outward expression of your brand encompassing all of your visual representation. Your logo is your business’ identifier mark.

Often it’s one of the first points of visual identification for a business. At DSR Branding, we’re kind of obsessed with them. For good reason; customers will make an almost instant judgement on the quality of your product or service based on how it’s presented. So your visual representation, naturally, plays a huge role in converting customers.

Like fashion and hairstyles, logos can date. 

Have you ever looked back at old photos of yourself and thought, “what the hell was I thinking?!” I look back at my classic ‘90s bowl cut and frosted blonde tips as a teenager and groan; I imagine everyone can relate.

Your logo will likely be no different, unless you’ve absolutely nailed it first go. Some businesses have. Like the classic Nike ‘swoosh’, a concept which has remained relatively unchanged since inception.

It is no shame or flaw that a logo will, in all probability, have a shelf life.

People change. Consumers change. Applications and media change. However great logos should be able to adapt and evolve to fit the time. Take Mercedes Benz and Coca Cola as examples.

Even superb logos, if the business is around long enough, adjust incrementally as reflections of changing social attitudes. See the tweaks and evolutions in the progression of brands like Apple, MasterCard, and more recently Facebook, who have refreshed their image more frequently than Miley Cyrus.

If you’re a business owner, chances are you’re the most attached to your current identity and less aware of when it begins to date. Your staff, however, specifically the ones responsible for finding new places to use the logo every day, will be well aware when it’s outdated and needs a refresh.

So if you’re working in a business, how do you tell your boss that there’s a problem?

Our suggestion is to keep the argument objective and rational rather than subjective. Avoid emotional statements like “It just looks bad! It’s horrible, it’s tacky, it’s old.” While these things may seem true, if your boss’ son or daughter designed it for them you might end up in hot water for attacking it!

 

Instead, put it through our logo and brandmark health check and see how it holds up. 

  1. Is it scalable & legible? Does the logo work when it’s made tiny, like on mobile ads or email signatures? Technology and devices have gotten smaller and smaller, with app icons, mobile sites and advertising, so logos must scale down to work in tiny pixels and still be easily legible.
  2. Is it usable? Do you have copies of the logo in multiple file formats? If your logo only exists in .JPEG format, you’ve got a problem! It means when it comes to reproducing it onto different applications it looks pixelated or blurry, which drastically cheapens your appearance.
  3. Is it consistent? Is the brand consistent across all platforms, including both online and offline media? A common pain point of business leaders is a half rolled-out brand launch where multiple logos co-exist, creating a ‘split personality’ for the brand.
  4. Is it relevant? Imagine you were a media company and your logo contained an icon of a compact disc (CD). Yeah, because I remember the last time I played a CD?! Having an outdated symbol, graphic or icon could immediately detract from the legitimacy of your business. Unless, of course, you’re intentionally pursuing a ‘retro’ feel.
  5. Is it unique? Compare your symbol or icon to those of your competitors. Do your competitors have similar identities or marks? Is yours still remarkable compared to all of theirs? If your icon is a globe, map or arrow, chances are your logo is dated and commonplace!
  6. Does it improve/add to what it’s on? Have you ever looked at something and thought, “wow that could be really beautiful if there wasn’t a logo printed on it?!” The presence of your logo should always be a tasteful addition, never an intrusion. Much of this is down to the presentation of your logo; occasionally it refers to choices around brand merchandise. For a guide to that, see our blog on the topic.

 

What can you do to fix it? 

Below are two quick ways to fix an outdated logo and one long-term holistic solution.

  1. Decolour it. As simple as this sounds, it can be a really quick fix. Make it monochrome (black & white). White on a black background or black on a white background will make it immediately more versatile, which can make it appear more modern and professional.
  2. Rebuild it. Hire a graphic designer to rebuild it and simplify it. Some good logos only need slight modifications from a good designer to make what worked in the past, work today.
  3. Appoint a Brand Agency to refresh/revitalise it. For more than simple cosmetic improvements, a strategic branding agency will refresh the imagery as part of a larger plan. This is a larger and longer term investment, but one that serves to keep your reputation and identity acutely tailored to the positive perceptions of your audience.

 

If you know a great business who has an outdated logo, feel free to pass on my details. I’d be happy to discuss how we can help bring their image up to date.

 

Glossary:

Brand: A person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organisation; the art and science of brand building.

Brand identity: the outward expression of a brand, including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance.

Logo (logotype): A distinctive typeface or lettering style used to represent a brand name; a wordmark.

Brandmark: An icon, avatar, wordmark, or other symbol for a brand; a trademark.

Brand glossary from Marty Neumeier’s The Brand Gap.

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