It's like losing a good friend, or loss of a close family member. It's been by your side and working hard for you year after year. Your logo. Your friend. I'm here to tell you that there is a clear definitive answer to my headline question - it depends. I can hear the groans.
Logos have the uncanny ability to be able to command respect and ridicule; to elicit love and hate; appear both professional and amateur; and be rough and finished at the same time. We've all seen them, the scrawled script the chairman doodled on a cocktail napkin, the zillion dollar glyph produced by an ad agency, or the mechanically drafted brainchild of "that guy in production". The origin can be as mysterious as the meaning or as simple as the corporate initials. What ever the meaning, what ever the origin, it's there. The question is, are you stuck with it?
I recommend my clients DON'T change their logo for several reasons:
- Client familiarity in the market
- It has a history of use and relationship to the business.
- Continuity indicates firm stability
- The CEO has a logo tattoo
However, there may be good reasons to consider change by updating or revising the logo:
- Major growth or change in services
- Merger or Acquisition
- Geographic Expansion
- Shift or change in client type
Next is to consider the severity of change. The best way to judge the effectiveness of the logo to represent the firm in future years is to take an analytical look at the closest competition to see how your image stands up against them visually. Next, honestly evaluate your firm as you can best see it 5 or 10 years out. The effort is to understand your companies brand in the marketplace. I often suggest that change should reflect the severity of the differences that have transpired since inception. Here are some generalities that might give you an idea:
If you made apple pies, and you still make apple pies and have little competition - little or no change may be needed.
If you made apple pies and expanded your product line locally but are encountering some upstart competition - consider an update or revision to draw attention and distinguish your product in the market.
If you made apple pies but bought a regional commercial bakery with fully expanded product line - consider a revision or complete change.
There are a large number of variations on this theme such as:
You're worn out and simply can't bake another pie. It's time to sell and pocket the intrinsic value of the family business and let someone younger take the reigns. The new owner should consider little or no change to symbolize that everything is going to be the same as when Granny made the pies.
Your great grandmother started the pie company 100 years ago. It has serviced the community for generations of customers who rely on "Granny's Pies". Online sales demand has outstripped your capacity and you need to expand to keep up causing a major baker expansion. Consider an update or revision for appeal to a wider market.
- Your baking video went viral. The pies are so good that Oprah came back on national TV to endorse your product. Investment money is flowing in, expansion is in progress, and life is good. Local sales are up and national sales are through the roof. Keep the logo, it's not relevant to sales any longer - it's your brand.
I realize that my readers are not pie makers. Most are design and service providers. What is similar is the understanding of your history and circumstance. Don't take change lightly as clients can get uncomfortable with change. Clients struggle with change for change sake - like recent logo changes for Uber and Instagram. Those companies have had to go public with reassurances to clients. Logo change can create brand confusion, speculation that a change has occurred when all is actually status quo.
If a little insight and study from someone who has baked a few pies would be in order, give me a call. I'd love to share a slice over coffee.
William M. Burwell is a retired Architect and Interior Designer whose career focused on corporate interior architecture in sole proprietorships, and partnerships from 9 to 120 staff. Bill retired in 2014 and began Burwell Consulting a Firm Marketing and Management Consulting firm, to share the wisdom and experience of those 45 years. Bill writes articles sharing his experience in four keystone practice areas: Marketing, Design, Project Management and Practice Management. He graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture in 1971 and now serves the College on the Dean's Committee on Excellence. Check him out at www.burwell-consulting.com