Should you ever change your company logo?

Branding businesses with Flux design studio. Think you can’t or shouldn’t ever change your established company logo? Try telling that to retail giant Woolworths, who threw out one of the most recognised brand identities in Australia (perhaps the whole country?) and replaced it with a completely different design. How did they succeed?

There are at least 2 ways brands can successfully change their identity—both of them rely on the understanding that the owner of a brand is actually the customer, and not the organisation that uses it to trade.

Method 1: Rebrand and make sure customers (and other key stakeholders) know about it

The first method enabled Woolworths to undertake such a drastic change so effectively. It requires substantial investment in advertising to ensure customers know the new company logo, colours and other brand identity assets still represent the same company they are used to trading with. The only brand identity element Woolworths kept was their slogan “The Fresh Food People”. In fact, this slogan is used as the foundation on which the entire new brand identity system is built.

A smaller organisation can succeed in a similar rebranding project by communicating the change to their customers. The communication could be on a smaller scale and take the form of a simple newsletter article or a direct mail campaign. You can get existing stakeholders, including customers, on board the new brand in this way. Future or potential stakeholders only need to learn or recognise the new brand identity system.

Method 2: Refresh and retain identity recognition

This second method is potentially less expensive but requires a deep understanding of how brand identity works. An identity system is made up of many individual elements—the logo, typefaces, a colour scheme, structure and many others—all of which, when applied together in a unique way, result in brand identity recognition. Graphic designers are experts in this field and are able to recommend how an identity can retain its recognition whilst creating a new look and feel.

A good example of this is the Qantas logo. It has been updated several times through the course of its life. The iconic red aeroplane tail is a great example of a colour/ structure combination that has been used to retain identity recognition over many years and across international borders. The iconic flying kangaroo and logotype have both been reworked, but most consumers wouldn’t even notice the subtle differences. Yet through these cleverly measured changes, Qantas has been able to ensure its brand identity has evolved with the times.

So my answer is yes, you can get away with completely changing your logo or brand identity, if it needs it. But it may also be sufficient to refresh a brand’s identity to achieve the desired outcome. Good brand and positioning strategies should always be employed before deciding which method is best for your brand.

Please feel welcome to contact me with your opinion, comments or questions related to this article.

Frank Stillitano MDIA

Accredited Designer and founder of Flux Visual Communication