Disastrous logo redesigns

Logos are a different kind of design. They’re tricky. They have to encompass an entire company, brand and attitude in one image.

Sometimes that image is iconic – the NBC peacock, the Verizon red checkmark, the Mercedes-Benz pointed star. Other times it’s, well. . .not.

Even iconic brands can get it wrong – especially when they trade in a tried-and-true logo for something “new and fresh.” Yahoo is hoping to get it right with its new logo, which they revealed this month, and Google are about to revamp theirs.

In honor of all the hype, we’ve put together some terrible logo fails. These companies all had great, recognizable logos and tried to upgrade — but what they really got was a downgrade (and some backlash). Let’s take a look at where they went wrong…

 

USA Today

Stephen Colbert summed up USA Today’s new logo in one simple statement:

Ladies and gentlemen, did (USA Today) deliver! … Boom! A blue circle!

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The media magnate had a logo that was incredibly well known (remember, it’s a daily paper) and was also timeless. The new logo didn’t make any dramatic typographical changes, but it did try a new, simple and detached style.

This detached logo separated itself from its former image, which represented fast-paced reporting across the globe. Instead, they gave us a static, blue circle. Not the most exciting — especially in the media world.

 

Pepsi

One million dollars. That’s how much Pepsi paid for its redesigned logo. Unfortunately for Pepsi, $1 million wasn’t enough to buy success.

44686_44866_8_pepsi 1

The slight tilt upward meant to mimic forward progress. However, to many it ended up looking like this:

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Definitely not the look Pepsi was going for.

 

Gap

Back in 2010, Gap tried to trade in their trademark logo for something sleeker and lighter. What they actually got?

44686_44866_5_Gap 1

Well, that’s what people thought of it anyway.

44686_44866_6_Gap 2

The old logo design was simple, an all-caps type set against a dark blue background. It was on every bag and box to leave a Gap store.

After the rebranding, the backlash was so intense that they abandoned the new logo after a week. Their attempted redesign actually cheapened the brand. Gap learned that instead of thinking outside the box, they should’ve kept its logo inside the blue one.

 

Kraft

One of the biggest design faux pas is crowding. Busy, overdesigned logos turn customers off. Also, the more “stuff” in your logo, the harder it is for consumers to identify with. Kraft’s redesigned logo was a victim of overdesign.

44686_44866_7_Kraft

Put simply, it’s just too much. The color explosion surrounding the K, the “smile” underneath Kraft, the slogan underneath “foods.”

The previous logo was easily identifiable, simple and solid. Kraft’s new logo however, is pretty unappetizing.

 

Animal Planet

Animal Planet has been around since 1996, along with its friendly logo featuring an elephant and globe. Makes sense, seeing as the channel is called Animal Planet after all. But in 2010, the Discovery-owned channel decided to ditch its family-friendly persona in favor of a design that felt more powerful and less soft.

44686_44866_2_Animal Planet

Something was so powerful that it knocked the “m” on its side. Why? The cramped and “powerful” typography fails to portray the channel’s true nature.

 

AOL

America Online. The AOL brand might not have the staying power it had when dial-up was the be-all and end-all, but it did have a logo everyone knew. For fifteen years, you couldn’t escape this:

44686_44866_3_AOL 1

Now the company has rebranded, dropping the all-caps type in favor of ‘Aol’. It also went with not just one logo, but six:

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They’re scattered without cohesion. Irrelevant to the Internet. Really, irrelevant to any product. AOL might’ve been trying to update its look, trying to make itself a media magnate, you divide the amount of people who can recognize you, the outcome is never going to be pretty.

 

Tropicana

We already went over how Pepsi managed to spend a fortune to mess up their iconic logo — and Pepsico managed to do the same with Tropicana.

Tropicana is known for its logo of an orange with a straw in it. It was cheeky and fresh (literally).

44686_44866_10_tropicana

They swapped the old logo for one that’s incredibly hard for customers to recognize in stores. You take away your signature image, replace it with a generic glass of orange juice and flip your name on its side. It’s hard to identify with and hard to read.

It would’ve been nice if Tropicana had left the saturation in their new image. The new washed out look doesn’t make anyone thirsty for OJ.

One positive that the new design had that the other didn’t? The rounded cap. The way it mimicked an actual orange was pretty clever.

What brands do you think should have stuck with their original branding? Do you prefer any of these redesigns? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, vintage Pepsi image via Matt.

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  • James

    Ummmm how was the USA today rebrand disastrous? you are aware that it was perhaps the first mainstream “living logo” right? Working as an application across the multiple facets of the organisation, right? Not to mention it reproduces 1000 times better than the old version and actually paved some new ground in brand application?

    Perhaps a deeper look is in order…

    http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/usa_today_for_tomorrow.php#.UjxakYbDC7w

    You will get no arguments from me on the Gap rebrand, however. That was just a travesty!!@!

  • http://markrojas2.blogspot.com/ Mark Rojas

    I actually rather enjoy what USA today does daily with its logo.

  • chasen54

    These are all great as a lesson in the perils of oversimplification. Of these the only two I disagree with are Animal Planet and USA Today.

    Animal Planet: I think they’ve turned a very “button-up” style logo into something more playful and actually more “safari-esque” looking.

    USA Today: If you visit the website, I feel the look of this logo meshes well with the design (read: flat/swedish). It feels right and the earth is a giant blue dot in the universe. However, it is hyper-simplified, and you’re argument does stand in many ways (my first reaction was this exactly).

  • Kyle

    Belk, JCP, eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo … you’re missing some pretty easy ones here.

  • bzle

    Aol. and USA Today shouldn’t have been on here. Disastrous?? Aol’s old logo was disastrous. USA Today’s new logo (and website) are great updates. Just because an old logo works doesn’t mean you can never change it.

  • noimea

    USA Today is one of the best logo redesigns for a long time. It definitely should not be on this list! And, honestly, some others either.

  • Michael Meininger

    I am all in on the USA today logo. The old one is iconic, but the new one truly fits with the industry-leading, web app/ internet presence & interface.

    I think the Gap or Pepsi logos are the biggest busts.

  • bradwestness

    I can’t believe the new Yahoo! logo isn’t in this list. They took an iconic, fun brand and changed it to a generic, boring “we just typed the word in a font” logo that looks like it was made it all of five minutes.

  • http://enfuzed.com/ Enfuzed

    I actually like the Tropicana and USA Today logos

  • Neeeks

    Tropicana, nice.

  • Mark

    Unfortunately for Pepsi, $1 million wasn’t enough to buy success.

    Because you can’t buy Pepsi anywhere now – it is almost like it disappeared.

  • istrt

    I’m sorry but I don’t agree with this post at all. Minus Gap.

  • Oze Mandis

    It’s not like AOL’s logo is those 6 images specifically. AOL’s “logo” is the white text with the period put in contrast against numerous different images to symbolize the insane amount of different outlets that AOL owns or operates.

    But yea I guess this is an opinion article so if you think it was disastrous, then you have a right to think so.

  • fundyfog

    The thing is a tiger’s stripes (discounting the ones on the legs) are positioned vertically so it would be more accurate to leave the M standing upright— unless, of course, you were referring to Tony the Tiger.

  • Steven Thomson

    Ha ha that Pepsi one is the best. I can’t get that guy out of my head every time I see it now.

  • http://www.fallingbrick.co.uk/ Freelance Web Designer

    Crap -> Gap :)

  • JTorres

    Animal planet’s new logo is supposed to be an elephant.. its not that obvious but I see it…

  • http://www.digitalprefix.com/ Jitendra: DigitalPrefix.com

    I like Tropicana logo both logo looks cool to me

  • PitchStock

    There’s some shockers in there, but also some improvements like AOL.

  • Adaware

    Hey, Alexis. How about CREDUTING the designer/artist that made the pun with the Pepsi logo, since it’s a design blog etc ?

  • Sarah Lindley Farnsworth

    Wall-mart also had a huge logo debacle when they went from the full and simple all caps sans serif font to the lighter sans serif with the “Spark”. I think the spark is a huge mistake. It looks like a kids rendering of a sun shine and does not resonate with the original brand at all.

  • Anthony Phillips

    The USA today logo isn’t disastrous?! Looks good. Fresh and clean.

  • Noa

    I think logo design should also be considered for how it will look for various marketing needs. For example, does it look as good with our print advertisements as it does with our website and business cards? For small businesses, I recommend Accept Print.

  • Tangerine Lullaby

    I love what they did to Tropicana, it’s clean and sleek. It goes well with the current packaging design that they have. I am fine with USA today logo and Animal Planet. I see M as some sort of a teeth or something. :)

  • Simon

    Totally right. Very good article. I loved the pepsi new logo made out to be a fat person! made me laugh a lot!

  • Stiego

    I disagree with the author’s take on the AOL brand. It’s got a very MTV lifestyle thing going on here, I don’t see that as a bad thing considering AOL has always been close to the lifestyle feel than most. A little too much hate for no reason on that one, sorry.