The New Logo ALWAYS Sucks: Consumers Hate Change

Okay, the new Gap log did suck.  But EVERY new logo design ALWAYS kicks off a spate of negative logo reviews, and many new logos don’t suck. Crowd sourcers beware: consumers hate change.

Google “New Starbucks” logo, and you’ll see page after page of negative reviews.  Negative response to change has always existed. That social media magnifies the negativity doesn’t mean that initial dislike signals a brand disaster. If every company making a logo change backs off when hit with inevitable Gap-like criticism, no brands will ever visually improve and great design will cease to exist.

Anyone who has tested new names or logos in a focus group knows the dynamic: when people are faced with something new and different, they recoil. Companies that back off change because of that knee-jerk reaction totally miss the point of doing something different. If you want to attract attention, convey a new message, become memorable, you have to unsettle people. In my naming practice, I know that names people like are names within the comfort zone. They are familiar, known, and understood–and totally the wrong choice for a winning brand. The same is true for logo designs. The best creative choice for a name or a logo is the idea that makes people stop and say, “whoa!”

When choosing a new logo, you want to get the associations right. Don’t ask non-designers to evaluate the art. You’ll get as many people saying “it’s too simple” as you will get saying “it’s too busy”. Dive past the inevitable superficial negatives and get to the specific feelings: “What does this logo make you think about?”

New Big Ten LogoFor a logo to become “liked” or even “loved” takes time. As Michael Bierut writes in the Fast Company review of the immediately much hated new Big Ten logo: “But let’s remember that the previous Big Ten logo, which fans now absolutely love, also met with resistance when it was first introduced twenty years ago.”

For the record, regarding the Starbucks redesign:  The new logo is great. But the ability of a new logo to move that company beyond coffee is negligible. Starbucks has spent over a decade trying to be coffee + something more and has failed. The new logo won’t fix that problem.

5 comments to The New Logo ALWAYS Sucks: Consumers Hate Change

  • richard miniter

    Why does the old Big 10 logo have an 11 in the middle of it?

  • LDMerriam

    The Big Ten was once nine, then became eleven and now is twelve. Big Twelve just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I think “the Big” works best.

  • @LDMerriam, you do realize there -is- a Big 12 conference? True, we lost a couple of teams this year, but we are still the Big 12. So, with there being both a Big Ten and a Big 12, who would get to call dibbs on “the Big”? With all the conference realignments, you could have made “big” money suggesting to the right people just combining them all and calling it “the Big mess” :)

  • LDMerriam

    That WOULD cause brand confusion. Big 12 should definitely have dibs on the big since they were twelve before Big Ten was twelve. I love the idea of Big Mess as a name, but I am guessing the conservative people in charge would never go for it.

  • George

    The New Logo ALWAYS Sucks…
    EVERY new logo design ALWAYS…
    …consumers hate change
    Anyone who has tested new names or logos…

    Wow, any more absolutes to throw out there? No? Are you sure?

    Well, you’re wrong. The New Logo DOES NOT always suck, consumers do not always hate change, everyone who has tested new names or logos is not met with people recoiling…

    If a new logo sucks, it sucks. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It actually is possible for something new to not suck, did you know that?

    Gaps logo change sucked. So has Yahoo’s. Starbucks did not. There was not page after page of complaints of the Starbucks logo change – quite the opposite. In fact, many people DID NOT EVEN NOTICE the logo change. Why? Because the mermaid had become ubiquitous, and, therefore, the words were no longer necessary.

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