Whenever a company redesigns its logo it causes social media and design sites to go mad. Sometimes the redesign is loved, but more often than not the designs are quickly torn to pieces, sometimes quite brutally. Disappointingly a lot of this comes from the design community.
Take for example the PayPal redesign back in April. Shortly after posting the news of this on twitter I received a number of instantly dismissed comments such as “I don’t like it”, “not a big fan” and “this is just…ugh”
— Logo Geek (@Logo_Geek) May 1, 2014
To some extent, I understand why people like to express their hatred towards a logo as it’s easy to look at it as a piece of art. If it looks ugly, boring or generic it’s quite easy to dislike it. The simple fact, however, is that logo design is not art, but functional design.
We need to stop looking at logo design and think “Do I like how it looks?”. Instead we should ask “Does it fulfill its design brief?”. Knowing the answer often requires some digging.
When a graphic designer works on a logo they are considering a number of factors, which include:
- Who is the business (its goals, mission, vision etc)
- What does the business offer (product or service and price)
- Who are its competition (both its competition and relative position in the market)
- Who are its intended audience (age, gender, geographic location, group etc)
- What’s the reason for the redesign? (for example, this could be a repositioning, a change of management, a new range of products, a merger or acquisition etc)
When a logo is redesigned the designer will review the above, but also use the logo redesign as a strategic mechanism to signify change. Change makes people stop and look; they want to know more. With the example of PayPal its redesign was to signify its move into the mobile market and was part of a larger global brand campaign. They were shouting out to show people they have changed in some way, and inviting people to discover more. With the logo redesign, PayPal created a new symbol which was instantly recognisable, whilst maintaining the same feel of its previous identity. Regardless of people’s opinions of the logo, they have successfully fulfilled the intended goals.
The questions logo designers should ask
When a company redesigns its logo, instead of judging it by its looks consider asking the following questions first:
- Why was the logo redesigned?
- Does the logo represent the business its intended for?
- Does the logo stand out amongst its competition?
- Does the logo correctly target its intended audience?
- What’s the bigger picture? A logo redesign is always only a small part of a re-brand strategy.
- Does it fulfil its intended goal(s)?
If the logo fails to fulfil its goals, then everyone clearly has the right to slate the design (if they feel the need to), however, if it fulfils its goals but you simply dislike the design due to personal taste, then it’s simply unfair to slate the designers work.
Asking the right questions gives a greater understanding of design, business and strategy, and gives valuable insights which will contribute to your own success as a logo designer, business owner or individual.