5 ways to spruce up a logo (with examples)

Logos are often considered the image of a product or service and is thought of as the center of all branding endeavors. If you are trying to be a legitimate company, you’ve probably had someone (or yourself) create a logo.

We don’t always get logo design right. And sometimes it’s just time for a newer, trendier logo. We may see it a couple months or years later and decide that it’s time to redesign or update what we have.

Redesigning a logo can be just as hard as creating a new one. Some questions you may ask yourself are: How much do you want to change it? What elements should be kept? And will the redesign still be recognizable as your brand?

Once you go through your list of questions and figure out what’s necessary, here are five ideas you can use to spruce up your logo design.

 

1. Strip it Down

We are living in a time where minimalism is a huge trend, not just because it looks good but because it works and it makes sense. The main idea is to get rid of the excess so that your audience isn’t confused about what’s going on—in terms of a logo you want your audience to be sure of what is being sold and what a logo represents.

Stripping down your logo design can ultimately end up being beneficial because a simple design is much easier to recognize than a busier design. If your current logo design has a lot of elements, try to figure out which ones are excess. For example, you may have a simple text logo with a couple of swooshes or a design element on it. What if, for instance, you decided to drop the text, and have the design element remain as your logo, or vice versa. Thus, you could rework or redesign only that one element as your logo.

My favorite example of this type of technique is the Starbucks logo. From the logo’s inception, the company has always had a pretty stripped down logo. Recently they went even further with their old logo, and it makes so much sense and looks very good as well. The idea behind removing the “Starbucks Coffee” around the previous logo was because the company plans on creating more ventures outside of coffee—it wouldn’t make sense to sell bottled water or wine with a logo that says “coffee” on it. This logo remains completely recognizable from the last and it simply works.

 

2. Change the font

Another pretty simple and subtle fix for when you pretty much like everything you’ve got on your logo. Perhaps you just need one thing to really change it but not too much. The question is, if you like everything on your logo, why would you change the font?

Picking a new font for your logo is kind of like the meeting of two new worlds. Let’s say for instance, you have a logo that is mainly all text and for the original you used a serif. Perhaps you did that because you wanted it to appeal to an older generation or you wanted your audience to take you seriously. But now you need a new redesign that appeals to younger folks and is a bit more modern—what would you do? Probably change my font from a serif to a sans-serif.

A logo redesign that works well here is the MSNBC logomark. The original design had this uppercase, super heavy typeface that would make any good typographer cringe. It was extremely strong and powerful—which isn’t always the greatest idea for a media news station. The newer logo flaunts a lowercase, more aesthetically pleasing typeface that makes more sense. It’s as if they went from being a big-headed and wrong news channel, to be a humble and approachable one.

 

3. Simplify the design

This is quite similar to our first point, but here I want you to consider a complete redesign by simplifying what you have. A lot of times, original logos can end up being extremely busy, as well as generic. The idea here is to break down the design, simplify it and come out with something extraordinary for your brand.

Modernizing the logo is also another way to simplify the design. For example, let’s look at the “Seattle’s Best Coffee” logo. While there’s a split amongst those who favor the redesign and don’t, I definitely agree with the redesign and what it stands for. The previous logo is a bit busy, seems a bit older, and isn’t that different. There are tons of logos featuring seals, especially when we’re thinking about coffee.

Seattle’s Best Coffee, however, has decided to open it’s playing field from not just coffee shops, but convenience. They want to partner with more fast food chains, offer pre-made beverages in stores, and even have vending machines. This simplified redesign conveys the move from your hometown coffee shop to a more convenient coffee brand.

 

4. Change the colors

Picking the right colors for anything can mean success. We tend to relate colors to certain emotions and feelings as well as certain things. For example, blue is a cool color and is often regarded as welcoming. Red is a warmer color that is seen as being feisty or energetic. Changing the colors on your logo can end up being either a subtle or dramatic change, depending on what it is you want to do.

Even a small change, like a bit less saturation can do the trick. Toys R Us redesigned their logo a while ago. They cleaned it up a bit (a la idea #1), but they also changed the colors around. They ended up being a lot less primary and standard. While the logo just seemed to be due for a redesign, they kept everything else pretty much the same. The color change, however, helped the brand seem a bit more childlike and fun.

 

5. Company/Product-centric

Sometimes we create logos that do too much and are way too busy. Then there is a completely different spectrum of logo design where our logos don’t do nearly enough. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that minimalism is the way to go—but the truth is, it’s not appropriate for every company or product.

We sometimes want to be so clean and just create a logomark with some nice typography. That’s not a bad idea if it’s necessary, but sometimes a logo needs a bit of excitement to go along with what the company is doing. If you’re logo is super boring, you may want to apply more of a theme to it that is central to the company or what the product does.

Perhaps your logo isn’t boring, but perhaps it doesn’t quite make sense. Years ago, Amazon.com used a logo that referenced the Amazon River. If you’ve ever been to Amazon.com, then you know they have nothing to do with the Amazon River—it misses the mark entirely. Fortunately, they redesigned their logo to the clever one we’ve got now, which has an arrow stemming from the ‘A’ to the ‘Z’ (they’ve got everything from A to Z), and it also looks to me like a smile. If you’ve ever gotten a deal from Amazon.com (i.e., textbooks), you know exactly how I feel.

 

Out with the old, in with the new

Redesigning a logo is definitely a timely thing, but usually has to be done at some point. Determine what it is you are trying to do and use at least one, if not a combination, of the ideas presented. Always keep in mind what the client wants and needs and even what the competition is doing. Remain creative and inspired and you’re sure to create a great logo!

 

With your experience in logo redesign, what are some techniques you enjoy using?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DULTM2OSZR2BVJCTMPGMMAUK5I ed n

    The new Pepsi and Seattles best logos are awful.  Amazon is much better.

    • http://twitter.com/just4TheALofit TheAL

      Agreed.

    • Nmbenos

      Agreed, I Don’t know what they were thinking with Seattle’s Coffee. 

    • http://twitter.com/kgainez Kendra Gaines

      The logo by itself is definitely not that great, but it’s the PURPOSE behind the logo. They WANT it to look generic, easy to understand/recognize because it’s kind of the marketing approach behind it. Makes perfect sense to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DULTM2OSZR2BVJCTMPGMMAUK5I ed n

    The new Pepsi and Seattles best logos are awful.  Amazon is much better.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DULTM2OSZR2BVJCTMPGMMAUK5I ed n

    The new Pepsi and Seattles best logos are awful.  Amazon is much better.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DULTM2OSZR2BVJCTMPGMMAUK5I ed n

    The new Pepsi and Seattles best logos are awful.  Amazon is much better.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DULTM2OSZR2BVJCTMPGMMAUK5I ed n

    The new Pepsi and Seattles best logos are awful.  Amazon is much better.

  • MusterionDesigns.com

    Great post! Thank you for the insights.

  • http://tolmanbryant.com bryant16

    Seattle’s Best, interestingly enough also owned by Starbucks, took a step in the wrong direction on this redesign. The first time I saw it I thought it was a generic brand until I looked a little closer and realized what it was. This is very reminiscent of the Tropicana packaging failure. And the new Pepsi logo is also awful, I think Lawrence Yang got it right on his site: http://www.suckatlife.com/pepsiLogoBlowatlife.html

  • http://profiles.google.com/dumbadguys Kyle anon

    This article could also be called “5 ways to screw up a logo”.

    All of these re-designs (and in some cases re-brands) had rediculous amounts of research and development behind them. 

    The River in the old Amazon logo referred to the fact that the Amazon
    River was the most voluminous in the world.  The word Amazon by itself
    had (and still doesn’t) have anything to do with books, but now has
    brand equity due to years of a popular service.

    Logo=Branding and Branding=Logo.  You can’t talk about one without the
    other. 

    Just simplifying, changing the colors, and the font does nothing
    for the brand if there is no reason behind it.

    • http://twitter.com/just4TheALofit TheAL

      “All of these re-designs had rediculous amounts of research and development behind them.”

      And yet, some of them look really awful. Many speculate that the “tireless research” that went into the newer designs was just fluff to justify the amount(s) they charged. 

    • http://twitter.com/icyeh Shelby

      I dunno, the new Amazon logo seems to have more to do with books due to the arrow from “A” to “Z.” ;P

    • http://twitter.com/kgainez Kendra Gaines

      I think you’re missing the point then, because I feel like everyone of them (maybe with the exception of Toys R Us) had a reason. They were old, needed to be ‘spruced’ up.

      And Branding does not directly equal logo. Not even a little bit lol. A logo is one small part of a brand. If the logo sucks (or you don’t agree with it) and the brand is still good, you’ll continue to visit the brand.

  • http://www.oldworldcreative.com Evan Skuthorpe

    Kyle anon – I agree a little with what you’re saying but these examples have nothing to do with re-branding. The title of the article is correct, it’s about freshening up a logo. You could argue, it therefor freshens up the brand also.

    There’s no denying that the Amazon, Toys R Us, Starbucks logos are fresher/more modern than their older counterparts. I don’t like the new Seattle’s Best logo but agree that it brings the design up to date.

    The interesting thing with good logo redesigns is that they’re digitally oriented. That is to say, logo’s are no longer designed to be printed on the sides of crates or heads of paper but are designed to be adaptable to the digital space – eg. logos on varying background colors depending on circumstance and logo colours themselves changing etc… look at the London 2012 logo as the best example.

    • KWS

      The London 2012 logo is horrible and shouldn’t even be mentioned in an article about logos and branding. It looks like something that came from a 1980’s MTV commercial with Billy Idol.

      • Nobody

        The London 2012 logo is an excellent piece of design. The 2012 logo has been discussed worldwide, raised the profile of the London games and remains eye catching on every product it’s placed on, despite integration with third party brands — exactly what it should be doing.

        Unfortunately some people just don’t get that design is not subjective and design work does not need to be ‘nice’ or ‘liked’ to be effective. I wouldn’t hang it on my wall, but that’s not what a logo is for.

        It’s a very brave, intelligent and competent piece of design.

  • http://www.oldworldcreative.com Evan Skuthorpe

    I should clarify, I mean the old Seattle’s Best logo is overly detailed and ‘wordy’. Not good when working in digital environments like websites.

  • Designerist

    Sorry if I do not participate to the discussion – I just wanted to say “thank you very much for this excellent article!”

  • http://twitter.com/NNMPortfolio Natasha N. McEachron

    Lot’s of useful info offered in the text (thanks for sharing!) but excluding Amazon I don’t think many of these logos are strong examples of effective redesigns. I get the idea behind the Seattle’s Best logo but the execution seems overly simple as though its lost its appeal by trying to be all things to all people.

  • Mgutierrezd

    Excellent examples, thanks!!!!

  • http://www.auctoricity.com/branding.aspx City Brand Management

     Great recommendations to consider for a logo change!  Awesome examples too they are very recognizable logos that we all relate to.

  • Anonymous

     Thanks for sharing u r posting.excellent information sharing.Awesome u r designings

  • Anonymous

     Thanks for sharing u r posting.excellent information sharing.Awesome u r designings

  • http://twitter.com/mickybandeira Micky Bandeira

    Excelentes ejemplos…

  • 晓亮 刘

    It’s worth learning.

  • Anonymous

    really logos are very useful for the identifying the particular organization, such type of redesigning  is also  one major role .so, this type of logo designing is awesome

  • http://www.the-triumph.com Web Design Company Mumbai

    Nice tips for logos.

  • Logo Design Company

    The Redesign of Seattle’s Best Coffee is impressive than before logo .Excellent work.

  • Purvi Dalal

    I like the Starbucks logo the best

  • Steve

    I think the Starbucks redesign has gone too far, they should have retained the word Starbucks somewhere. Its borderline whether the central symbol is quite recognisable enough. Also Kyle’s comment about a logo design being relevant is a very important one as it helps create a visual link to what the organisation is about, helping it work better in different countries.
    Interesting article, thanks.

  • Ashwini Mastercomputech

    Nice blog
    Thanks

  • http://www.emberstudio.com Mike McDonald

    I still think the Starbucks logo was a good redesign, and a nice improvement over the previous one. 

    I also think people just love to hate on well-known company logo redesigns, even when they’re good.

    • http://twitter.com/kgainez Kendra Gaines

      ha!

  • http://www.adesigns.me Adesigns

    I think this was a great breakdown of different approaches you can take when redesigning a logo. Of course the approach you take is going to be based on the overall goal of the business and the direction they are going in.
    Based on the comments I’ve read it goes to show that you can’t please everyone with the examples themselves!

  • Anonymous

    new starbucks and seattle logos do not really work because they are oversimplified conveying this cold corporate fotune 1000 type of mentality, if you know what I mean.  Coffee is sophisticated, so is the taste for coffee, that is why the logo ought to remain sophisticated looking in my opinion.  What happened to this local cozy mentality of coffee shops?

  • http://www.sugumarje.com sugumarje

    I like that Idea :)

  • http://www.hurleytech.com Milwaukee Web Design

    I wouldn’t consider Seattle’s Best to be a good example…I think it lost something by simplifying it.  The best example here is undoubtedly Amazon…much, much better after…probably the best example provided here.

  • http://www.hurleytech.com Milwaukee Web Design

    I wouldn’t consider Seattle’s Best to be a good example…I think it lost something by simplifying it.  The best example here is undoubtedly Amazon…much, much better after…probably the best example provided here.

  • http://www.hurleytech.com Milwaukee Web Design

    I wouldn’t consider Seattle’s Best to be a good example…I think it lost something by simplifying it.  The best example here is undoubtedly Amazon…much, much better after…probably the best example provided here.

  • Chetaru

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  • Chetaru

    Hi…

    Thanks for sharing this information. with the help of this information we can improve our blog design working and designs thanks or sharing this tips.

  • Chetaru

    Hi…

    Thanks for sharing this information. with the help of this information we can improve our blog design working and designs thanks or sharing this tips.

  • http://madplumcreative.com/ Kyle

    Check out the work Madplum Creative did with the logo of Hansen’s Natural Soda:

    http://madplumcreative.com/projects/foodbeverage/hansens-natural-soda/

  • http://madplumcreative.com/ Kyle

    Check out the work Madplum Creative did with the logo of Hansen’s Natural Soda:

    http://madplumcreative.com/projects/foodbeverage/hansens-natural-soda/

  • http://madplumcreative.com/ Kyle

    Check out the work Madplum Creative did with the logo of Hansen’s Natural Soda:

    http://madplumcreative.com/projects/foodbeverage/hansens-natural-soda/

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Seattle’s Best is very bad.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Seattle’s Best is very bad.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Seattle’s Best is very bad.

  • Viera

    great examples, it makes sense