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Can You Spot the Difference?

Logo Designs Over Time

There are just some brands that when you hear their iconic name, you immediately picture the logo that accompanies them. Whether that logo is bright and eye-catching or simple and sleek, you have it ingrained in your memory. Marketers thrive on this. They strategically plaster their logos in as many places as possible, trying to keep their brand constantly at the top of your mind. When you need a product, they hope you’ll remember their logo and choose it out of the sea of others. They invest in graphic design that will capture the viewer’s eye and hope that it will be worth the cost. Maybe, your choice of buying from that brand is not always because they have the best product, but because their brand is reminiscent of a memory, evokes a feeling, or is trendy. A brand could have your sole trust just because you’ve seen their logo in multiple places.

Yet sometimes, brands change these ever-so-memorable logos, either for a few years or for life. What is the real reasoning behind these changes? Maybe the company shifted their audience focus, took a dip in revenue, or just simply needed to change with the times. Keeping this in mind, let’s explore some logos of the past and present.

First, let’s look at some timeless logos that haven’t undergone any changes for a very, very long time.

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Standing large and in charge on the big screen for the last 83 years. Pretty much anyone who has ever seen a movie knows this one (20th Century Fox). Can you hear the music and taste the popcorn? Besides a slight change in color, font, and scaling, 20th Century Fox has managed to keep their logo simple yet majestic. The only change came in 2000, when a pan motion was added to the effects of the intro. Why haven’t they made any drastic changes?

There’s no need to. 20th Century Fox created a timeless logo that has followed their audience throughout all stages of life. Through first movies as a child to first dates, to first movies with grandkids, and so on. If there’s no pressure to change and positive associations exist, there’s no need to rebrand.

Next, take a look at GE’s logo evolution. It’s not the most exciting design in the world. You may not love it. You may not even like it. But you recognize it.

GE’s founder was Thomas Edison, so why wouldn’t they play on the credibility and reliability and keep the same logo for all of time? They don’t need all that glam, they have the history.

Let’s next take a look at some logos that changed and then returned to their natural state.

Barbie™. You either love her or hate her, but you probably had her when you were little. She herself has gone through some changes over the years. She’s changed with the trends and styles, but most recently with the pressure to represent current societal views. You may not recognize her these days, but you definitely still know her logo.

Between 1975 and 1999, Barbie’s logo transformed from its’ original cursive typeface into a more generic roman typeface. In 1999, it switched back to a similar cursive typeface and has continued to slightly evolve from there. All along the way, it kept its simple wordmark and soft, feminine, pink hue.

Why may they be circling back to their original logo? As many know, Barbie has undergone some major criticism, especially in recent years, due to its portrayal of women and the female body. It’s possible that due to this detriment to their image, they may have circled back to their roots to define where they started, what they’re about, and why Barbie exists. On their website, they hold campaigns such as the “You Can Be Anything” campaign, showing that women can conquer whatever they set their minds to. Additionally, on their “History” page, they draw on nostalgia with original Barbie sketches and a quote from the Barbie creator, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” This logo return is simply a tactic of reputation management.

The Quaker Oats man has been around forever. He was a little blue in the 70s but returned to his original state in the 80s, and today looks as he did from the start (yet slightly thinner). Business insider gives a quick, very detailed log of the logo’s evolution, but long story short, they kept Quaker Man because we all know him. We all know him so well that we’ve barely noticed the changes made to him over the years, unless we’ve been looking for them.

So, what logos have entirely changed? You may forget after a few weeks or months, but logo changes are sometimes very noticeable and can seem completely out of left field.

We all remember when they completely changed the look of Instagram’s logo. It was noticeable, and it made us all confused and even annoyed for a few days or weeks.

Adglow explained it well, but basically, Instagram realized that its community of users were no longer looking to the platform as only a photo editor. The application was now a “vibrant and diverse community of users” and a “wide community, varied and very strong.”

Now that I know what this logo change was all about, I’m all for it, but they could have used a few more ads or campaigns to smooth over the transition.

Remember what the Doritos bag looked like during the 2000’s? Maybe you didn’t even notice that it changed. Thankfully, Doritos has stuck with the same shape (…that of the Dorito) and hasn’t budged much when it comes to its colors. Doritos have always tasted great, but they haven’t always stood out. Doritos’ current logo was chosen for its high energy and excitement, and it demands attention, separating the brand from others at the store.

Logos don’t just change to change. A graphic designer doesn’t just walk into a company and present a completely different logo design without a reason, a season, or a problem. Next time you need to change your logo, you should look to my company, The Alias Group. We’ll work with you to figure out not just how to change your logo, but when and why.

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