Associate Trademark Consultant, Interbrand New York, Nicole Briggs' insights on the impact of changing collective thinking and behaviors on brand logos are featured in this month's Retail Focus:
Evolving styles, technology, business models and product offerings eventually push most brands to refresh - or even reinvent - their logos to stay relevant. When done right, a logo change can successfully differentiate a brand, give it an updated look and feel, signal a new direction or shift consumer perception in a positive way. It sounds easy enough, but knowing when, how and to what extent a logo should be altered is trickier than you'd think.
Most of us know what a logo is, but not everyone knows why logos are so important. Advertisers, psychologists, neurological researchers and savvy business people, however, know that the human mind processes, stores and recalls symbols or visual cues more easily than sounds or words. By developing a logo that elicits a positive response and making the right connections between that symbol and certain products, companies can capture the attention of consumers build loyalty and market to people all over the world.
On the most basic level, a logo identifies a company or product through the use of a symbol, mark or signature, but it is also the face of the brand, embodies its attributes and functions as a vital communicative tool. A logo that "works" is usually simple, easy to interpret and subtly conveys multiple layers of information. It allows us to instantly grasp what a brand stands for, what it offers us and whether or not it is relevant to us.
The symbolism of a logo can be powerful and universally appealing, which is why skillfully designed logos often resonate with people of all ages, nationalities, languages and cultures. In fact, for many companies, it's an indication of success when a brand is simply recognized by its logo. As a result of extensive marketing, Nike, for example, has become a dominant fixture in its category and can stand on its own with just a symbol, which nearly everyone recognizes. McDonald's is another classic example of a brand that is instantly recognized around the world by its famous golden arches. Sometimes a logo - which distills the essence of a company into its simplest form - identifies a company so well, the company name doesn't even have to be mentioned.
Though an iconic logo may lend personality to a brand, function perfectly well as an identifier, promote public recognition and offer differentiation, even the best logos sometimes need to be adjusted. When times are changing, companies feel the pressure to keep up with new trends, boost sales and set themselves apart from (and ahead of) the competition. When a company's marker no longer seems to fit the business market, an aspect of the design seems out-of-date or no longer represents the company, or when a company is beginning a new era, it may be time for a logo transformation.
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