There's been a lot of chatter about the over-simplification of brands recently; we've seen outright changes to a brand's mark and evolutions that have gone too far.
But where are the ones that seem to get it just right? Perhaps it's time to take a look at how some brands have done this evolution thing gracefully.
Brand identities are the outward reflection of what a brand stands for, a graphic representation of its philosophy. All brands evolve as their core business evolves, so keeping a logo updated to match a company's target market is important.
But at what point does the evolution of a mark no longer represent the core values and meaning? How do designers know when to quit, or to say enough is enough?we've gone too far? Is there a common thread to the brands that have held their evolution to the bare minimum?
Let's take a look at some marks that have stood the test of time:
Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil has a very descriptive name, which makes you think that you would be able to predict what the mark looks like. But take a look at the evolution of Shell's logo: The stylized shell has gone from a very realistic engraved mark to an elegant shape with minimal moving parts. And Shell Oil was able to eventually lose the words "Shell Oil," due to the consistency of how the mark evolved over the years.
Apple Computer is another mark that has subtly and softly moved from its initial representation of an orchard to the mark of the rainbow apple of the late ?70s, when it became a brand. The silhouette has never changed, only the inside, which is a direct reflection of how the content of the brand has changed. Today, it's a very elegant, yet minimal mark that relates well to Apple's current product line-up.
And then there's the Coca-Cola script. It's a word mark that has been updated dozens of times over the last 100 years, but to most consumers? eyes, it has never changed. Every update has only made it more legible and elegant, never abandoning the Spenserian Script known around the world.
So, here's the history and design lesson for the day: Don't mess with it, if you don't have to. And if you have to, only do only what's absolutely required to keep it relevant.
Wholesale changes to brands are usually unnecessary, and instead, are often the first step in a downward spiral of lost brand recognition and consumer confidence. The results can throw a market on its ear and cause instability to brand value and equity.
Just think about the recent branding mistakes with the likes of Gap and United. Some brands have found their equilibrium. Let's keep it that way.
[Top image by Kevin Dooley]