Not all logo designs and redesigns are loved and widely accepted – especially when it’s a popular brand whose previous logo has been around for a while. There have been several epic logo failures in the past where people have hated, trolled and torn a logo redesign apart with criticism.
Let’s take a look at some such logos that created a storm in last few years but where brands held on to their belief in the logo.
Airbnb logo has perhaps been one of the most talked about logo on social media. Shaped to look like a heart bent out of a paper clip, the logo received severe backlash from public. From being compared to genitals, to being subjected to a wave of ridicule and claims of plagiarism, the Airbnb logo was criticized from every angle.
The apartment rental brand however continued to believe in its logo. The Company shared that the marque named “Belo” is a combination of People, Place, Love and Airbnb and represented the American dream of coming together and belonging anywhere. The idea was to create a universal symbol for the brand, which can be created by anyone – whether drawn on a mirror or etched in the sand.
Google’s new logo when unveiled had mixed reactions from internet audience. The logo actually rebelled against standard branding rules. The colours seemed to clash, it used a slight drop shadow and even used sans-serif typeface, a font which is normally not used in logos.
From Google’s perspective however it was a simple, approachable and friendly style and they wanted to create a logo that shows childlike playfulness and always stays a bit unconventional. So they decided to take Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across smaller devices like mobiles and wearables. In fact, Google created this geometric sans-serif typeface called Product Sans exclusively for their branding purpose. Their streamlined glyphs could also shrink down to tiny sizes with more legibility than the more ornamental serif lettering.
People like what they like. So whenever a brand logo changes, it shakes up everything they are used to! Pepsi received a lot of backlash for the new logo which was compared to a fat belly. It was seen as unimaginative and said to convey no energy or motion. But for Pepsi the decision to tweak the logo was all about making it more edgy, minimal and hip. Despite the negative feedback, the Company continued to believe in its logo and in spite of being such a popular brand did not buckle under pressure of public opinion.
Air India did a drastic change few years back by changing its logo and the iconic mascot, Maharaja, into a hipster with spiky hair!! Maharaja is one the most iconic element in the history of Indian branding, so such a drastic move did not go down well with the public. The new avatar had shed pounds and traded traditional wear for fully modern attire. The Maharaja’s gracious bow was replaced by the new version of the Maharaj checking mobile phone. The logo itself was now changed into a red coloured flying swan with Konark chakra inside it.
For Air India this move was a part of its brand push, so regardless of the dissonance from social media the logo continued to be a part of its identity.
When one of the most recognized brands, Hershey, changed its logo , little did they know they would be courting controversy with redesign! They had given a fresh, modern interpretation of the iconic Kiss chocolate in the new logo but the design was compared to poop emoji, drawing strong ridicule from public.
Hershey’s, however, has always maintained its belief in its logo and stuck to how they worked towards creating a simpler, cleaner logo with its emblematic Kiss product. The guiding principle during the design and development process of the new logo was to stay true to the rich Hershey legacy. Despite criticism, for Hershey’s this logo change was a part of a larger strategy that puts the logo on same color palette as its key products. The Company had a clear objective behind the logo change – to showcase its evolution from a predominantly U.S. chocolate maker to a global confection and snack company.
Surviving the criticism!
So what was common among all these brands? The fact that all of them stood by their logo design and believed in it instead of a knee-jerk reaction . Most of them didn’t bother to defend, and the few who did let their conviction in the design and branding decision speak for itself.
Eventually none of these brands were affected long term by the public ridicule. Criticism died out. And the so called bad designs had zero impact on its popularity. The fact that these brands are still very much around and doing successful business is a testimony to this.
The way you react to consumer interpretation and acceptance of logo will be a reflection of how much deliberation you have done at design stage. Yes, it is true that negative reaction from consumers can sometimes be so swift and severe that a company’s immediate reaction might be to backpedal. But in the history of logos, very few brands have actually rolled back their logo design or tweaked it in the eye of public criticism.
Why NOT to give up!!
But why does everyone jump on the designer hate bandwagon whenever there is a logo change? As a company, you might have decided for a logo redesign based on several reasons. But consumers are typically wary of change. So be transparent. Make sure you keep them aware and inform that a change is coming and why, instead of pulling the rug out from under them.
As a brand owner or decision maker, you have taken a strategic decision to rebrand and you are well aware that logo designing is the first element of that exercise. You have burnt the midnight oil to shape up the identity of your brand. You have put commitment into the new logo. You have closely experienced every stage of evolution of your brand’s identity and seen how the logo design added life to your brand. And you have worked actively with the design team to ensure your logo finally reflects the objectives of your brand.
Despite this, if a bunch of people ridicule it, just take the criticism with a pinch of salt and let your conviction do all the talking. And continue to believe. After all, that’s how you have grown your business idea so far, isn’t it? So just keep sailing ahead!