Brands are constantly evolving, and it’s quite common to outgrow the logo you launched your business with—often within the first few years of business.

But how do you know when it’s time to redesign or “refresh” your logo? Every now and then a company will get it right the first time (think: Nike and Apple). Their iconic identities enjoy global recognition at a glance.

But more often than not, a logo needs to be tweaked or redone to keep up with the evolution of your business and brand and changes in cultural norms. A logo created in 1985 isn’t going to have the same impact as one designed in 2019.

Domino’s first logo (shown below)—created in the ’60s—sought to present a bright, cheerful colorway, with the three dots symbolizing the three original Dominos locations. Knowing they would be adding more franchises, the company planned to add another dot each time a new location was opened.

The runaway success of the brand, though, meant that concept needed to be scrapped, so the company decided to stick with the original logo. In 2013, the company refreshed its logo to suggest a more inclusive menu of food choices not limited to pizza. 

  

There are other legitimate reasons to pull your logo off the shelf and give it a solid once-over. When you do, you may discover that it is indeed time for a change.

Like any design project, a logo redesign may seem daunting and make you want to put it off, but it can also be an investment that pays off with exponential returns. And like any change to your branding, it pays to take some time to make sure a redesign is needed.

Top 5 things to ask yourself when contemplating a logo redesign:

1. Is your logo outdated?

If your logo was created more than 10 years ago, this is probably an obvious question. But even a recent logo creation can appear dated or unsophisticated if your initial branding wasn’t on the money.

Whether your current identity is older or newer, ask yourself: is its aesthetic tired? Does it render well in print and on mobile devices? Does it really convey your brand’s purpose now that you’ve had some time to define your business and your target audience?

2. Are you speaking to a new audience?

Maybe you’ve built a loyal customer base, but you’ve identified a need to target a different demographic. This could mean younger or older people, more men or women, or any number of variables. A logo redesign can help you reposition yourself to connect with this redefined or expanded audience. Do it right by hiring a branding expert who will help you attract the attention of new customers while retaining your existing customer base.

3. Has your business expanded or changed its products, services, or value proposition?

If you’ve added a new line of products, expanded your service offerings, relocated your headquarters, or added new employees, it could be time for a rebranding. Any change to how your business operates could signal an opportunity for a new logo.

4. Have your brand’s mission or values changed over time?

Is your brand’s purpose the same as when you first started your company? Is the personality or mission different now that you’ve matured past the seed-stage or startup mode? Your logo should reflect this maturation and evolution.

5. Do you have more or bigger competition?

We can’t think of a single business that doesn’t have competition. If you dominated your space when you started but lately have noticed competitors beginning to crowd for attention and market value, a logo redesign could help you rise above that crowd. A logo redesign—when executed properly and rolled out with boldness and sensitivity—shows your existing customers that you’re contemporary and robust, while simultaneously letting prospective customers know that that you are worthy of consideration.

If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time for a logo redesign, but it’s also possible that your identity overhaul may be more of a “refresher” than a full redesign.

The logo “refresh.” What is it and how is it different than a redesign?

A logo refresh is informed by the desire to refine the current logo, rather than reinvent it. Consider it more of a makeover. Colors may be updated or tweaked, messaging might change, and/or the existing logomark simplified to be more contemporary or sophisticated. David H. Sutherland & Co., Inc. came to us for a full rebrand, including a name change, and new website. In all areas, they were ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater except one: their logo.

A 65-year-old family-owned business, their logo had been designed by the current CEO’s mother, so there was an emotional attachment. More than that, though, since they were also shortening their name to DH Sutherland, their sales team was worried customers might not recognize them and/or think they’d gone out of business.

Rather than redesign their entire logo, we focused on refreshing their mark.

The evolved mark feels modern, fresh and congruent with their history in the aerospace and high-performance industries.

On the other hand, a logo redesign is a complete do-over. This can include a different aesthetic, a new color palette, new messaging, or even a rename (remember when FedEx used to be Federal Express?)

When Beaverton Arts & Culture Foundation partnered with the City of Beaverton to raise funds for a new Arts Center, they knew it was time update their brand, which had grown stale over the years and didn’t adequately convey their passion for Arts as an agent of change.

Their resulting brand is clean, contemporary, and classy (with a little edge), and builds trust.

 

A few considerations to keep in mind when considering a redesign:

What is it about our current logo that isn’t working?

Review the five questions posed earlier in this article for clues to help determine the strength of your current logo.

Which elements of the current logo do we need to keep?

Even if you’re sure you need a redesign, consider the existing design elements that effectively represent your brand before you toss them out and start over. This could be the colors chosen, typography, or upper or lower case treatment of your wordmark.

Does our existing logo enjoy strong recognition with our customer base?

It’s always a risk to disrupt the connection your brand has with your existing audience. Consider doing some market research into how your customers relate to your current identity. It can be as simple as hiring a freelancer to interview them or as in-depth as hiring an agency to follow a more robust process. Either method will allow you to explore the possible consequences of a dramatic identity shift. Will a new logo confuse your current customers? While none of us have a crystal ball (we wish!) to know in advance how a new logo will affect your client base, a brand new logo could potentially cause some confusion with your customers. Is that an unknown you feel your company is prepared for and can negotiate with strategic communications and PR messaging around the change?

Yep. We need a new logo. Now what?

Here are a few more considerations to keep in mind:

  • A new logo or logo refresh will most likely require changes to your branding and marketing collateral, such as new business cards, new sales collateral, perhaps even a new website or website refresh. If you’re not ready to overhaul all public-facing assets, consider keeping some elements the same (such as colors and typography).
  • Change can be a little uncomfortable—even when that change is a positive one.
  • Theodore Roosevelt once declared “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It will be tempting—almost impossibly so—to compare your new logo with your old one. Don’t let it trip up your efforts to move forward in a new direction. It might be more helpful to focus on how the new logo designs you’re presented reflect your current and future business goals, purpose, and audience expectations.

You’ve got a new logo you love, now what?

Implementing your new logo is a multifaceted process with lots of points of contact. You might decide to phase in your new logo over a period of time, or you could just go cold-turkey and introduce your new logo on a specific date (don’t rush it!), making a big announcement to your audience, trade journals, and local business publications. At a bare minimum, you’ll have to update your logo across all digital platforms, such as your website, email signature, social media home pages, and profile images. To help plan for your roll-out, see our handy checklist to help you implement your new logo.