The Logic Behind Logo Changes

No one really knows for sure how logos originated; perhaps they evolved as a result of companies wanting to stand out from the crowd and provide their customers with a unique way of identifying them amongst the competition. At some point down the line, they morphed into status symbols, and organizations began to compete to make theirs the best and most recognizable. Logos can be pictorial representations, a combination of a picture and a tagline, a creative design of the company name or its acronym, or just a random symbol. Whatever they are, they must serve the company’s purpose – when you see them, you have to think of the organization. So why then do companies change logos, especially if they’re already established and recognizable icons? Isn’t it a contradiction when you consider that a logo is supposed to be the company’s identity, and that changing it would mean you need to spend time, effort and money in promoting the new logo? But in spite of all the issues that surround a logo change, companies do it on a regular basis. The reasons are many:
  • Some logo changes are for psychological reasons: Take the case of Kentucky Fried Chicken – the fast food chain used its full name, Kentucky Fried Chicken, on its logo. But when the word “fried” started to take on negative connotations towards health and the world started to move towards a healthier lifestyle, the company rebranded itself as KFC. It still made the same greasy (yet tasty), fat-filled fried chicken, but at least the acronym KFC did not associate itself directly with the word “fried”.
  • Some change because the company’s policies and/or missions change: An organization that wants to reposition itself in the market changes its logos to reflect the change that takes place in its corporate circles. For example, an organization that has developed a negative reputation could seek to rebrand itself with new operations and a new logo. In such cases, there is also a change of name, or a smaller subsidiary of the large corporation takes over as the USP of the company to position itself in a more positive light.
  • Most changes happen because the company evolves: An organization keeps growing by the day, and each change is associated with smaller and larger changes. As a result, the company logo tends to look outdated and needs to be revamped to keep pace with the change. Some organizations go in for a complete change while others prefer to alter and modernize the one they already have so that their brand does not become totally unrecognizable. When companies go in for a drastic change, they usually spend large sums of money in promoting and publicizing the new logo so that people can connect it to their organization.
Some logo changes work really well; some others go down the drain and become embarrassing setbacks for organizations (like the change effected by NBC a few years ago). In general, logo changes become success stories when companies do their research and plan efficiently before going ahead with the change.