Refreshing your logo: Evolution and Revolution

posted on July 17th 2013 in Graphic design & Logo design with 8 Comments

A while back we wrote an article here about how design needs to be kept fresh. We also mentioned how logos can be refreshed without throwing out some essential heritage. Here we talk about evolutionary and revolutionary design steps to refreshing your logo.

Logos can illicit strong sentimental feelings amongst business owners. That’s good. They’re one very important part of your brand and identity, and sometimes too many businesses can be ready to junk their logo heritage for no good reason whatsoever. But…

Change can be necessary

As years go by logos can get tired. Businesses that have grown can out-grow their logo. At start-up some businesses only spend hundreds of pounds on design, maybe even handing over something as precious as a logo to a cheap logo outfit. But you get what you pay for, and they inevitably look a bit cheap and not thoughtfully designed with the business in mind. Colours move on, fonts do too. Design trends change hugely. Refreshing your logo can be a key step to revitalising your brand,

Logo evolution

We have heard, “We’re desperate to update our look, the website is old and our brochures look awful, but don’t touch the logo. The owner likes it too much.”

Hmmm. The thing is the logo could well be part of the ‘overall look’ problem. Try not to discount refreshing your logo just because its stood you in good stead from start up. Logos can evolve without saying goodbye to what’s gone before.

We are huge fans of brand history and heritage. These are vital parts of a brand story, and a history is something new brands would dearly love. But this shouldn’t stifle change where it’s needed. Logos can develop with a sense of history, and some of the biggest brands in the business prove the point:

 Refreshing your logo in evolutionary steps – Shell

Shell logo history

Shell has taken its logo on an evolutionary journey. This shows how it’s changed since the 1950’s, making the shell a separate icon and taking the wordmark out of the logo. They’ve modernised the shell, making it simpler and cleaner, and also looked at colour. The Shell wordmark has also been modernised with changes in font and softening from shouty caps to sentence case. These are changes that have been made over many years. At the time they are very subtle, but ensure the logo has kept pace with contemporary design and an up to date feel.

 Bigger evolutionary steps

Richardson logo history

Sometimes bigger changes are needed. Here we have used an example from one of our case studies from working with Richardson, a large construction and refurbishment company. Not only did Richardson want to update their look to have a more contemporary feel, they also had problems with the logo in application. The original font was lacking punch and wasn’t heavy enough to stand out on signage on building sites. It was also getting a bit lost in printed documents and the icon was also proving difficult to use.

Here we can see that the logo history was respected. The core red and white colours were kept, and the icon was adapted but not changed beyond recognition, whilst the font was given a much needed boost for impact. Overall it shows that change for the better is possible without forgetting the history.

Refreshing your logo with design revolution – BP

BP logo history

BP followed a classic evolutionary path like Shell. But in 2000 it broke away from its shield totally in a very revolutionary step. Revolution was needed to create a more contemporary look, but also to reflect its movement to delivering energy in all its different forms – hence the ‘sun-burst’ icon was created. The font changed to a more modern and softer look, with colours brightened too.

When brands move on, grow their offer and change their positioning it can be the right time to make revolutionary change to the logo. BP still maintained some heritage by keeping its colour hues. This helped, perhaps, keep some of its familiarity.

Refreshing your logo: Conclusions

We would propose that no logo is beyond adjustment. We also don’t advocate change for change sake, refreshing every year because people get bored internally with it.

But a reluctance to change can hold your logo, and therefore a key part of your company identity and brand back. Design can be sympathetic to history and work to evolutionary change. Or when needed, it can  produce bigger changes that still keep the brand on track and familiar. Far worse is a scenario where you find your logo and a key part of your brand looking cheap, nasty or out-dated.

currently there's 8 comment(s)

  • Neale Gilhooley

    commented on October 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Nice succinct article, was it coincidence that you chose 2 multinational Oil companies to analyse, it did make the article more interesting. May I add a link to your article in my design blog? http://www.edinburghdesignconsultancy.co.uk/?p=94


    • Brand Glue

      commented on October 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment Neale. We chose the two oil companies to show how organisations in the same sector can go in very different directions, and for very different brand reasons. And sure, link away! Thanks for the comment.

  • Evolution of the Logo | Evolution Design blog

    commented on November 1, 2013 at 11:49 am

    […] 2. Very good article on Evolution and Revolution in logo design, including some good practical examples from the BrandGlue blog see > http://www.brandglue.co.uk/blog-wp/refreshing-your-logo […]

  • Neale Gilhooley

    commented on November 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks I’ve linked from here, with a credit to BrandGlue: http://www.edinburghdesignconsultancy.co.uk/?p=94

  • […] read more: on refreshing your logo with Big Oil case studies from Hampshire based Brand Glue […]

  • PatrickWolcott

    commented on September 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Cool article!

  • Kate

    commented on February 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Dear John,

    This has been a very insightful blog post about logo design. I completely agree with your comments about the retirement of logos and how a website should periodically revamp their logos to make them more appealing (while maintaining similar fundamentals to the previous logo) to the public as society progresses. My primary takeaway from this post turned out to be “contemporary revitalization” which I feel is a good fit for the message you are trying to portray. I genuinely enjoyed this blog and the connections you made to heritage and the brand story. If you are interested in reading and researching more about this topic, feel free to connect with our website blog: https://www.jtechcommunications.com/technical-blog-jtech-brand-evolution.
    Thank you again for the insight.


    • John Hayward

      commented on February 9, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for your comments.

      I like ‘contemporary revitalisation’! Everyone’s gotta move on, even if for some it’s just a small step every few years so no one realises (e.g. Kellogg’s)! Others though need bigger changes.


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