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CircleUpApril.06.20175 min read

How to Redesign Your Logo Without Wreaking Havoc for Your Brand

Why is redesigning a logo so risky?

There’s something about logos that fascinates us. Brands try to encompass everything they stand for in a single stamp. It’s stressful and sensitive work. Customers view logos as a mark of familiarity by attaching meaning to the little image. This makes it disappointing when a new logo fails to live up to their expectations.

When Instagram unveiled their new simplified camera logo, they unleashed a media storm. The New York Times called it “The Great Instagram Logo Freakout of 2016”. When Gap unveiled their new logo, many customers were appalled — Slate called the design “Even More Boring and Soulless” than the previous one — and then Gap ended up turning back to the original.

Logos can be highly emotive markers, but that doesn’t make them permanent tattoos on brands. Sometimes a redesign is necessary, and it shouldn’t be agonizing. The key is to have a clear plan in place: know why you’re redesigning, choose powerful tools to help you, and roll out your new design in a minimal but memorable way.

Redesign for the Right Reasons

If you don’t have a clear impetus for redesigning your logo, don’t redesign your logo. Muddled designs and disappointing launches happen when redesigns aren’t backed by strong conviction. When Gap tried to backpedal from their design, they exposed they didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted — “We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas,” Gap’s Facebook page quipped unconvincingly, hinting at a “crowdsourcing project” to follow.

Your logo is an obvious way to define your brand quickly. From Coca Cola’s classic white script to Snapchat’s fun-loving ghost, a compelling logo shapes how people think and behave around your business. But as you grow and enter different arenas with your brand, that original stamp won’t always fit. Making the decision to switch can be taxing, but if your brand is expanding, shifting, or evolving, that’s a great thing. And it’s time for customers to see your company anew.

Here’s how to create a fresh visual marker and make a new imprint on customers’ minds without freaking out.

Use Tools and Professionals to Make Redesign Easier

Once you’re sure that this stage of your brand deserves a fresh stamp, be collaborative and professional as you hash out the design.

Create your own prototypes for free.

This is a great way to start playing with logo ideas before spending money on professional help. Use tools like:

  • Canva’s free logo maker, which gives you style inspiration from a library of basic designs and lets you play with your own elements.
  • The logo maker by Squarespace, which allows you to upload files and try out how they’ll look on web design elements and merchandise.

Find a redesign partner.

Paypal used fuseproject. Innocent Drinks used Deepend. These logo redesigns turned out well because the companies involved trusted outside firms and crafted working partnerships with them. You can find a design partner who gets your brand through sites like:

  • Dribble, which lets you search for designers by location, skill, or availability.
  • Sketchdeck, which enables you create projects quickly by leveraging input from various professionals.
  • Company Folders, which offers good logo design services at a reasonable price.

Crowdsource your new logo.

This is last on the list because it’s the riskiest. When it works, it really works, bringing your audience into a new level of engagement with your product. Like when Starbucks tasked its customers to come up with a new cup design. They built a buzz around the contest and powered it through social media, using a hashtag #WhiteCupContest to collect entries.

But try crowdsourcing without proper planning and you could end up with a messy, anti-climactic logo launch, like Gap’s.

Try 99designs to give some structure to your crowdsourcing — send out a brief to a crowd of design professionals to get diverse opinions on what your brand should look like, while still assuring quality.

If you don’t pass your logo ideas around and get the input of professionals who think about design all day, you could end up with an image you love one day but regret the next. Make sure to sleep on your new logo for a while before rolling it out.

Stage a Low-Pressure Roll Out

Contrary to popular belief, customers are forgiving. You don’t have to cleanse shelves with fire to remove all traces of your old packaging. Staging a gradual roll-out for your logo increases the time you have to announce your launch and aid customers’ discovery.

  • First, cover your online touch points. Whether you’re an e-commerce brand or a brick & mortar business, online channels often provide that first impression customers get of you.
  • Then, start a print trail. Update invoices and other docs you send so all your partners and clients get a glimpse of your refreshed brand. Use a tool like Lumi to experiment with packing materials. You could also reinvent your materials as you reinvent your design—use this occasion to save money or become more compostable and eco-friendly.
  • Meanwhile, talk about it. Making changes at your company gives you an opportunity to talk about your brand to your audience. Re-state your vision. Choose your communications channel based on how you communicate with your audience. You could plot social media teasers and a big reveal, or document your redesign with a blog post.

You Are Bigger Than Your Logo

If you redesign for the right reasons, and ease into it while transitioning to your brand’s next phase in its evolution, your logo redesign needn’t define you. Use it to stimulate new conversations about your company, to discover how the next version of your brand looks to customers, and even to refresh your team’s sense of brand ownership. This will let you own the change, even if your logo causes an initial flare up of questions and critique.

Arrive at your new design through experimentation and with the help of solid design partners, then roll out your new logo systematically without apology. Tinkering and reinvention is what infuses new life into brands, moving them forward in the eyes of customers.