When Do I Scrap My Logo?

Changing your logo is not like going from broken bangs to a bob or brush cut to a whatever the heck that style is where it’s really short on the sides these days. 

Hairstyles are often trendy and short-lived. Not to mention hair grows back (for some of us). So before you buzz your logo, how do you know when it’s ready for the chop?

There are a few reasons you might choose to change or update your logo.

It’s Time

After five or ten years, it’s time to take a good long look at how your business has evolved and if your logo still resonates. Is your market the same as when you started? Are your offerings still similar and is your brand promise to your customers holding strong?

Things change. That is the nature of the World we live in. As timeless as a designer can strive for in a design, trends of the era can bleed through. Now might be a time to see if any aspects of your logo need to go the way of the bell-bottom.

To do that, choose a selection of new businesses that are considered your competitors. You can sit their logos side by side with yours and discover whether yours still feels relevant. The caveat is watching for the current trends. By choosing five other businesses in your market, and be honest with which market you are in, you’ll be able to spot these trends and/or have an average of them.

You’re not looking for the trends to follow but those to avoid. By averaging you will have a better idea if your logo fits the market better than it does a current trend.

We’re aiming for timeless because it will create a strong bond with the public’s mind the longer it lasts. Think ABC or Coca-Cola. The added benefit is hopefully much less design time and cost as your logo evolves.

It’s Forgettable

You love your graphic and the text and the meaning of it all. But when you ask someone what your logo is, they answer you with a question instead of a statement. “It’s green and has a fish with a hat and a man in the background?”

That’s an issue whether your logo was designed yesterday or yesteryear. Forgettable logos are ones that are too complex or too common.

Does your logo suffer from sounding like an infomercial? “It chops, it dices, it slices, it blends, cubes, and vacuums your floor. The last device you’ll ever need!” Last week we talked about designing for recognition. Same idea here, stick to one idea and one message you want to convey.

The text and graphic need to work together to say that message. If your logo is doing just that, maybe it is not time to redesign.

I did mention that if the idea and design of your logo is too common, that’s also another case when it becomes forgettable. Let me give you a for instance: What is the first idea that comes to mind as a logo for a public library?

Is it an open book? No shame in that, that was my first thought too. Unfortunately, the idea is so common that a quick look through Google Images reveals 60% of libraries using that idea. Since they all look the same and are exactly what we’d expect, they are forgettable.

Ask five people you know and trust what they think your logo is from memory. Better yet, ask your customers. They are your target market. If it is forgettable, try to figure out if the idea is too complex or too common. Complex can be simplified, where common might need to be reworked.

It’s Not Working

It’s not you, it’s me. Yeah, George Costanza may have invented it, but how do we know when a logo isn’t pulling its weight?

The harsh truth is, if you’re not getting any business, it is not because of the logo. And vice versa, if you’re packed to the brim on the daily, give credit where credit is due: you’re doing a great job!

Logos will help or harm your business but never are they the single reason for success or failure. So if you’re in the first camp where things are truly not going well and you’ve given it the ol’ college try, you might have to look at more areas than just your logo.

But if you’re in the second camp and things are going okay, revisiting the logo could be the boost your business needs to the next level.

The brass tacks: it must say who you are (not always in the literal sense) and what you promise in a voice your customers are receptive to. Being out of date or forgettable are two factors that can also contribute to this.

Often well intentioned designers will hit the mark on a number of levels but might fall flat in execution. That is to say, even if the graphic is sound, unintended imagery or meaning comes from it.

For a good laugh check out these unfortunate mishaps: http://digitalsynopsis.com/design/top-25-funniest-logo-design-fails-ever/

Hopefully this is not your situation. For a more mundane practical example, check out the logo for Canadian company The Printing House. I’ve used them quite a bit and really appreciate their fast turnaround and great pricing and quality, however their logo has cause for confusion.

The Printing House Logo
‍Their acronym is clearly TPH, but do you see where the confusion lies?

During my in-house design days, I often sent items to TPH, but in the office they were most commonly referred to as ATPH. Despite being the annoying person that corrected everyone, it came up time and again.

I had little to no effect changing their minds. The logo was cemented in their minds and all they saw was an A.

No biggie right? Well, actually, sort of. What if they want to refer someone to TPH for printing but say ATPH. Confusion ensues because when you go to http://atph.com you reach a Boston based Photographer who tragically uses Comic Sans in the most terrible of ways. Does TPH end up losing out on the potential business? You betchya.

*Bonus example of an ineffective logo is Atlantic Photo (ATPH) who uses coloured squares that most often represent printing and not photography.

Conclusion

Unfortunately there is no formula for knowing when your business’ logo needs a refresh, redesign, or new design. It takes some observation and a key eye for how your customers are interacting with the current design.

If a considerable amount of time has passed since the original design, look into it. When your friends can’t describe your logo, consider some changes. The message is sending people to the wrong place or says printing instead of photography—definitely rethink the strategy.

But most importantly, if you can’t find a specific reason to change your logo, don’t. As tempting as it may be, changing too frequently will hurt the brand image more than an improved logo will help it.

December 12, 2016
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

Changing your logo is not like going from broken bangs to a bob or brush cut to a whatever the heck that style is where it’s really short on the sides these days. 

Hairstyles are often trendy and short-lived. Not to mention hair grows back (for some of us). So before you buzz your logo, how do you know when it’s ready for the chop?

There are a few reasons you might choose to change or update your logo.

It’s Time

After five or ten years, it’s time to take a good long look at how your business has evolved and if your logo still resonates. Is your market the same as when you started? Are your offerings still similar and is your brand promise to your customers holding strong?

Things change. That is the nature of the World we live in. As timeless as a designer can strive for in a design, trends of the era can bleed through. Now might be a time to see if any aspects of your logo need to go the way of the bell-bottom.

To do that, choose a selection of new businesses that are considered your competitors. You can sit their logos side by side with yours and discover whether yours still feels relevant. The caveat is watching for the current trends. By choosing five other businesses in your market, and be honest with which market you are in, you’ll be able to spot these trends and/or have an average of them.

You’re not looking for the trends to follow but those to avoid. By averaging you will have a better idea if your logo fits the market better than it does a current trend.

We’re aiming for timeless because it will create a strong bond with the public’s mind the longer it lasts. Think ABC or Coca-Cola. The added benefit is hopefully much less design time and cost as your logo evolves.

It’s Forgettable

You love your graphic and the text and the meaning of it all. But when you ask someone what your logo is, they answer you with a question instead of a statement. “It’s green and has a fish with a hat and a man in the background?”

That’s an issue whether your logo was designed yesterday or yesteryear. Forgettable logos are ones that are too complex or too common.

Does your logo suffer from sounding like an infomercial? “It chops, it dices, it slices, it blends, cubes, and vacuums your floor. The last device you’ll ever need!” Last week we talked about designing for recognition. Same idea here, stick to one idea and one message you want to convey.

The text and graphic need to work together to say that message. If your logo is doing just that, maybe it is not time to redesign.

I did mention that if the idea and design of your logo is too common, that’s also another case when it becomes forgettable. Let me give you a for instance: What is the first idea that comes to mind as a logo for a public library?

Is it an open book? No shame in that, that was my first thought too. Unfortunately, the idea is so common that a quick look through Google Images reveals 60% of libraries using that idea. Since they all look the same and are exactly what we’d expect, they are forgettable.

Ask five people you know and trust what they think your logo is from memory. Better yet, ask your customers. They are your target market. If it is forgettable, try to figure out if the idea is too complex or too common. Complex can be simplified, where common might need to be reworked.

It’s Not Working

It’s not you, it’s me. Yeah, George Costanza may have invented it, but how do we know when a logo isn’t pulling its weight?

The harsh truth is, if you’re not getting any business, it is not because of the logo. And vice versa, if you’re packed to the brim on the daily, give credit where credit is due: you’re doing a great job!

Logos will help or harm your business but never are they the single reason for success or failure. So if you’re in the first camp where things are truly not going well and you’ve given it the ol’ college try, you might have to look at more areas than just your logo.

But if you’re in the second camp and things are going okay, revisiting the logo could be the boost your business needs to the next level.

The brass tacks: it must say who you are (not always in the literal sense) and what you promise in a voice your customers are receptive to. Being out of date or forgettable are two factors that can also contribute to this.

Often well intentioned designers will hit the mark on a number of levels but might fall flat in execution. That is to say, even if the graphic is sound, unintended imagery or meaning comes from it.

For a good laugh check out these unfortunate mishaps: http://digitalsynopsis.com/design/top-25-funniest-logo-design-fails-ever/

Hopefully this is not your situation. For a more mundane practical example, check out the logo for Canadian company The Printing House. I’ve used them quite a bit and really appreciate their fast turnaround and great pricing and quality, however their logo has cause for confusion.

The Printing House Logo
‍Their acronym is clearly TPH, but do you see where the confusion lies?

During my in-house design days, I often sent items to TPH, but in the office they were most commonly referred to as ATPH. Despite being the annoying person that corrected everyone, it came up time and again.

I had little to no effect changing their minds. The logo was cemented in their minds and all they saw was an A.

No biggie right? Well, actually, sort of. What if they want to refer someone to TPH for printing but say ATPH. Confusion ensues because when you go to http://atph.com you reach a Boston based Photographer who tragically uses Comic Sans in the most terrible of ways. Does TPH end up losing out on the potential business? You betchya.

*Bonus example of an ineffective logo is Atlantic Photo (ATPH) who uses coloured squares that most often represent printing and not photography.

Conclusion

Unfortunately there is no formula for knowing when your business’ logo needs a refresh, redesign, or new design. It takes some observation and a key eye for how your customers are interacting with the current design.

If a considerable amount of time has passed since the original design, look into it. When your friends can’t describe your logo, consider some changes. The message is sending people to the wrong place or says printing instead of photography—definitely rethink the strategy.

But most importantly, if you can’t find a specific reason to change your logo, don’t. As tempting as it may be, changing too frequently will hurt the brand image more than an improved logo will help it.

December 12, 2016
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

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