The more things change, the more they stay the same.
When working on a brand design over an extended period, it becomes inevitable that change will eventually need to happen. Sometimes this is a sweeping change involving a complete re-branding. Redesigning logos and branding elements from scratch with an eye on complete reinvention. This is a strategy employed best when the old brand simply didn’t work; the logo never connected with its intended target, the message was muddy, unclear and, as a result, unsuccessful in its purpose. But generally, if you’ve experienced success with your brand identity, it’s often best to allow your brand to simply evolve a bit with time.
What this means is not throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Maintaining the core that makes your brand recognizable, while adjusting specific elements and their relationships with each other to tell a familiar story in a new way.
Think of logos that feel largely unchanged over the decades that you know well: AT&T, Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks, and more like them. Their core iconography has remained the same for generations. They are nearly universally recognizable, and yet none of them have remained unchanged with time. Typefaces have become cleaner, iconography has simplified and gone through different colors, treatments, and styles to flow with the times. Think of all the different ways that Apple has adapted its trademark icon. The word “apple” isn’t even needed anymore; just that clean shape that can be colored or treated in almost any way without losing its brand integrity. All these designs have evolved with time, yet all remain, at their core, the same logos. That’s brand evolution at its finest.
For some brands, it’s a core color scheme that remains the same while the typefaces can evolve and adapt with time and trends. Planters nuts, Campbell Soup, GOOGLE and, again, Coca-Cola and Starbucks – all these brands can adapt their iconography in a wide variety of ways, but it’s their distinctive colors and color combinations that help define our recognition of the brand.
The point of all of this is that brands can, and often must, evolve and change with the times. But in that evolution, a graphic designer’s goal should always be to make sure the target market can still connect with the identity of a brand and its logo. A designer must serve the brand before any ego-driven desire to tell their OWN story, because the old adage holds true for good design as well as anything else: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Written by Blog Contributor: Dee Fish