The logo is often the first point of contact of a brand with its customer audience. It is a vital marketing tool for the marketers to create, establish, and cement the brand’s identity in the minds of the consumers. The logo reinforces what the company or brand is trying to communicate about itself by providing a unique visual stamp of the identity of the brand.
A good and effective logo design is meant to attract people’s attention. It should reflect the essence of the brand -the core values, the Purpose, the heart of what the brand represents. The logo should have an immediate impact on the viewer. A great logo helps in brand penetration and recall. It helps remind the customer while making a purchase as well as making recommendations.
This is why brands put in a lot of consideration and thought into designing a logo. It is imperative to devote attention to every minute detail of the logo – from colour to design to graphics and font.
Designing an effective and impactful logo is, of course, hard. Logos, like all symbolic imagery, are open to subjective interpretation. This suggests that there may be things that might not be visible to the team designing the logo but may be what jump out at others. For example, the Airbnb logo was widely criticized for being sexually suggestive and obscene which the designing team almost certainly didn’t intend.
When it comes to branding failures, the biggest brands across the globe have faltered at some point in time. Names like Google, Pepsi, Tropicana etc. have made their own sheepish entries to the list of biggest brand failures.
Here are 4 logo design stories each brand can learn from…
Cafe Coffee Day
The most loved Indian coffee chain across the country is driven by its captivating tagline – A lot can happen over a cup of coffee. Such an apt tagline for a cafe where people could unwind with friends, job seekers could interview in a safe zone, prospective dulha meet potential dulhan in neutral territory, and professionals meet to discuss and seal some deal! But the brand really saw success after they rebranded and repositioned the brand in the market.
“It all started with the brand seeking to sharply refine its positioning — research helped us realise that the café outlets have become more than just a coffee shop; a social hub where people meet for a steaming mug of cappuccino, for a chat, for business or even without business — just a catch up with friends,” K Ramakrishnan, President Marketing, Cafe Coffee Day.
The brand recaptured their target audience by redefining their logo to depict what the essence of the brand meant. The closed square transformed into a dialogue box which signified the brand’s positioning in the market. People could connect with the brand’s reason for being and that’s what a logo is meant to do.
In January of 2001, UK’s largest mail carrier made an announcement of a new brand and company name – Consignia. The step was criticized by people across the UK with Mike Verdin of BBC News commenting, “A duffer. A howling waste of money.” The sudden change in the name and logo of the brand took people by surprise. This became almost an existential crisis. The Royal stamp was at the very heart of the brand -you could trust them with your mail, after all, so did The Queen! The original name had history, heritage, and it’s function emblazoned all over it. The new brand failed to connect with the people. The logo was mundane and the name, though it suited perfectly for the services provided by the company, too tricky for the masses. After the public outrage and denial of acceptance to the new name, a year later it was renamed to Royal Mail.
This is among the most talked about brands when we talk about rebranding fiascos. The initial GAP logo had created an identity in the market over the 20 years of the brand’s existence. The logo had recognition, as any 20-year old brand should, but it also conveyed a sense of simplicity and style. The name spelled out in all caps inside a blue box was seen as classic and very American. In late 2010, in a classic case of succumbing to the entropy and brand chaos surrounding retail and consumer brands, the company decided that they needed to be seen as “young”, ”cool”, and “happening”. A new logo was dreamt up to showcase this new “Gap”. It ditched the All Caps, broke out of the blue box, and elevated the box to almost an afterthought floating away like an errant thought bubble. The audience hated everything about it -the general sense being that the logo did not represent any of the values that Gap had traditionally stood for. The logo had to be dumped within a week of launch -and no one lamented its passing.
The logo of a company holds meaning and speaks directly to its customers. The MasterCard rebranding with a new logo was disastrous. The new logo was seen as amateurish and conveyed no new meaning. A careful look revealed that the gradient centre circle wasn’t even centred right. The new logo came across as a lazy attempt at redrawing the initial logo. It was seen as sloppy, lacking attention to detail, ill-considered, and, fundamentally non-serious -not traits you would want to associate with a financial product!
Paula Scher has said, “It’s through mistakes that you can actually grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” That’s sound advice, and that’s the light in which to view the stories of these 4 brands. This is where these brands started their journey to growth -and left examples for the rest of us to follow.
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