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Brand simplification - it's a complicated business
Much like the fickle world of fashion, logos go in and out of style, some are timeless while others date, horribly. With the current trend leaning towards the minimal, small details that used to be commonplace are gone. We are currently seeing companies distilling their brand identity down to just an icon, wordless as such, but with meaning.
Let's take a look at what a logo needs to do in today’s world
To be fair, logos have to work harder now than ever before. Any designer that created a beautiful long, landscape logo a few years ago, is now cursing how it looks crunched down on a 1.5 inch retina smart watch screen. If a company’s first logo was designed way back when, it will certainly benefit from a fresh lick of paint. But in cutting down a design in order to re-build it better than before, do you lose the logo's original meaning? If you trim the detail and shave off the edges, does it lose whatever made it quirky and original in the first place?
New isn’t always better. The now infamous Gap logo redesigned back in 2009 should, on paper at least, have worked. But everyone hated it, and Gap had to recall their own identity. Or was it a clever marketing stunt so that Gap could give their customers their precious logo back – that they never knew they loved so much in the first place?
So who’s simplifying what?
The 'word drop' in favour of the 'app icon' approach appears to be the most dramatic change, but there’s also some toning down, stripping of detail and going for flat, styled graphics.
Dropbox used to feature a more 3D box with shading, now it’s dropped (pun intended) the type, favouring an app-friendly 2D look.
Gumtree's new icon instantly makes them look more contemporary. And it works! All of a sudden I want to sell something with them that I’ve been meaning to eBay for years.
Airbnb ditched their friendly script for a more corporate feel, and added an icon that’s a cross between a heart and a Google map location pin (at least, that's what they say).
Spotify started up with a light-hearted logo, then became huge and needed to refine themselves. Being a device driven service, they've really nailed the app icon look – not sure about that green though.
So, if you’re planning on changing your corporate identity, a brand refresh can do just as much as a whole new logo. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel, but you probably need to change the type, get a new colour, and re-draw your icon.
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