Logo redesign is something most business owners would like to avoid, because it means having to change all your graphics and documents, including your website, business cards, letterhead, invoices, newsletter templates, social media graphics, signage, packaging and any other designsyou might be using in your business.
When faced with such a daunting task, a lot of people just decide they’d rather not do it. They stick with the old logo like a bad boyfriend, because the thought of moving to a new apartment yet again makes them want to pull their hair out.
I get it because I experienced this first-hand myself. (The logo, not the bad boyfriend thing. Ahem.)
Still, sticking with a logo that doesn't work for your brand is a huge waste of a great opportunity to boost your business (as I explain in my post 7 ways a logo can make your business better).
A brief story of my own logo redesign
For those that wonder what the pentagram-shaped symbol in my logo stands for, it's my monogram consisting of the letters N and D in a weird handwriting of mine. (If you look at my paintings, you'll notice that's how I sign them.)
Here is the old logo I had for a few years:
I made the symbol years ago, while my primary portfolio was on inObscuro.com. (I don't remember exactly when it was, but I've found photos with this watermark that go back to January 2010.)
When I launched this website in November 2012, I added the name "Nela Dunato Art & Design" to it, to form the complete logo you see above. I slightly refined the symbol in 2013 for a better balanced shape.
The problem with this logo was that it's too artificial. The symbol doesn't actually look like my handwriting, even though it's supposed to emulate it. It's sharp & pointy, without any organic flair that's so instrumental to my brand.
The uncomfortable realization
I've been working on my website redesign since January this year (with pauses). Halfway through, I realized something is off, but it was hard for me to say what it was. I just had a nagging feeling that something isn't working.
After a while I figured it was the logo that was bugging me, but I just kept moving through without stopping to ask myself what I was going to do about it. I had so much resistance about changing my logo, that I didn't want to see all the signs that kept pointing to it, until the knowing just hit me one day – I really, really need to redesign it.
Changing the logo meant I was going to do way more work than I originally planned.
I had it on all my business documents, and the thought of having to redesign everything, not just my website and business cards, filled me with dread. When was I going to find the time for this?
However, I allowed this spark of the idea to show me a different possibility, and when I realized what my new logo might look like, I was totally on board and eager to get to work.
The new logo is more aligned with my brand values and qualities, and it fits perfectly within the framework of my overall design, where the old logo was so obviously out of place.
New logo design process
I used a brush pen to make dozens of monograms in my sketchbook. I scanned the pages and picked the ones that turned out nice for the second phase of logo design.
Then, I proceeded to eliminate one by one based on how well they integrated with text.
In the end, I vectorized my favorite monogram, selected the fonts, and created the final logo design in several different variants.
Here are the old and the new logo side by side so you can compare.
I kept the things that worked well (the composition) and changed the things that didn’t (symbol and typography).
Even though they’re exactly the same size in the above image, the new one has more weight to it and is more legible in small sizes.
Most people probably didn’t even notice that anything has changed in the past weeks, but it actually makes a huge difference, and I’ll tell you why.
Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider redesigning your logo.
1. The logo shape doesn't fit your needs
If your logo doesn't fit nicely in your website header, or looks tiny on a square profile photo on your Facebook page, you should at the very least create an alternative logo specifically for this use.
The problem with creating a logo before you have all your business systems and marketing plan in place, is that you end up with something that doesn’t even take into account all the graphics you’re going to need.
Whenever I create logos for my clients, I anticipate it being used in a wide variety of settings (and I specifically ask which marketing avenues they plan on using), so I create 3 different logo compositions: horizontal, vertical and symbol.
Logo design for my client Nubeculis
This insures that no matter what kind of graphic shape they have to work with, one of these logos is going to fit.
If you find yourself changing the logo composition from the original ratio, this is a clear sign of a logo that doesn't suit your needs.
Once finished, the logo is not supposed to be changed in any way. I always give instructions to my clients on what the proper use of a logo is in a document called a branding style guide. Changing the shape is definitely not proper use, and should be avoided at all cost.
2. Your logo looks out of place on your marketing materials
Maybe the style of your graphics has evolved toward a new brand aesthetics, and your logo just doesn’t sit well in that environment. Maybe you realized that in order to use your logo on a certain type of backdrop, you’d need a variation in another color.
Ideally, the logo should be the cornerstone of your visual brand, and guide all other design choices, but in some cases the overall context changes for the better, and your logo just can’t keep up.
This was primarily what nudged me toward my own logo redesign. As my brand evolved, and my website and graphics have changed, the logo didn't fit well on them anymore. When I redesigned it, I was able to test and verify that the new logo looks good on all the graphics I create.
3. Your logo is mismatched with your brand values
Your personal core values are the key to building a business that will make you and your clients happy. A lot of people don’t even know what their values are, so it’s not surprising that they’re not using it in their brand.
In my human-centered approach to branding, visual design is the very last step in the brand strategy process. The first step is figuring out your core values. (I explain the whole brand strategy process and lead you through discovering your own core values in my book “The Human Centered Brand”.)
Designing visuals before you give your core values a second thought will result in a logo that will never be quite right for you.
This was another important reason behind my decision. I created the old logo at a time when I had no idea about the importance of values, and how they affect your brand. I just wanted a nice symbol that represents my name, and went with the first design I created. Only later did I realize that I need to take the same approach I use with my clients when I work for myself, and I got a much better result.
4. You just feel something isn’t right
Don’t discount your own ability to feel whether something is right or not. Trusting your own gut when it comes to your business is instrumental. And let’s face it, sometimes what your intuition tells you is very impractical! However, it doesn’t make it any less accurate.
If you can’t stand the look of your own logo and you have no idea why it is, take the time to examine why and see how the thought of getting something new and more aligned with your values makes you feel. You’ll know whether it’s a yes.
5. You keep getting comments and questions about your logo that aren’t very flattering
It’s one thing to have people ask you what your logo represents out of curiosity, but quite another thing when the logo shape does remind people of something, and it’s not anything you want to be associated with. This can be a downright embarrassing connotation (like genitalia or poop), or something that is simply in contrast with what you want to be known for.
It’s important that you like your own logo, but it’s even more important that the clients you’re trying to attract understand what you’re really about when they look at it.
6. You’ve discovered a more established business in your niche with a very similar logo
Sadly, this can sometimes happen, no matter how careful you are.
You were sure that the logo you came up with was unique, but alas, great minds think alike – and another great creative mind has chosen a very similar symbol and typography for their logo as well.
Similarity in logos can lead to customer confusion, and sometimes even to lawsuits. You don’t want to risk any of that, so it’s best that you just change your logo before they noticed it.
Do you need a partial or a total redesign?
This is something your designer is going to ask you, and you should have solid arguments for your decision. The choice of whether you want to start with a blank slate or not is found in the reasons for redesign I listed above. You may get away with a partial redesign if you feel that the old logo has done its job very well, and you just need to shift things a bit to make it even better. (I discuss the subject of rebranding and all the stuff you may want to consider in my article Rebranding 101: Why & how to update your existing brand.)
In my case, I chose a partial redesign, because I was already pleased with many things about my logo. I just needed to tweak the symbol and typography a bit so it would be right on spot.
Sometimes there’s not much you can salvage from a logo. If the fonts, colors and symbol are all wrong, it’s better to start over. However, if a logo has been in use for a long time, your clients and customers have already memorized it, and coming up with a totally new thing may confuse them if it catches them off guard.
Make the best of this situation is by making your rebrand really public. Talk about it on your blog, newsletter and social media. Tell people the backstory of your rebrand, and why they should care.
Of course, someone will always complain that they liked the old logo better. This should be expected, and it may also mean that they do not identify with your new brand, and they’re not the type of client you want to be attracting in the future.
The cost of a new logo should not dictate your decision, because the logo design price is the same no matter which option you choose. The amount of work the designer puts into your logo is about the same, believe it or not. And sometimes it’s easier to create something from scratch than to fix existing things.
How is your logo working for you?
Did you find yourself in any of the situations I described above? What did you do about it?
Are you happy that your logo passed all the tests with flying colors? Or have you found that you’re very dissatisfied with how your current logo represents your business and need a new one ASAP? Share in the comments below!
And if you’d like some help with your new logo, check out my logo & branding services and send me an e-mail – I’d love to talk to you about it.