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The Anatomy Of A Successful Logo Redesign

Here, Jessica Hische diagrams every move she made in updating Mail Chimp’s identity—with graphic design tricks for making sure a newcomer is actually welcomed.

Familiar logos are like overly attentive suitors: They’re so naggingly present that their charms are lost to you—until, one day, they’re gone. Then you realize just how much you took a shine to that Gap, Tropicana, or American Airlines icon. The replacement logos only serve to remind you of what you liked before everything changed.

That’s how we usually react when a brand is overhauled—we notice only the "bad" redesigns. But occasionally, a company’s logo undergoes such a subtle transformation that it’s barely noticeable, even though if you were to compare the old and new, you’d see an actual improvement. That was the case with Mail Chimp's recent revamp. The online marketing service commissioned graphic designer Jessica Hische to make their logo look more modern without drastically redirecting it. Writes Hische: "They just wanted a facelift—one of those classy facelifts that make your friends ask you if you’ve been sleeping better lately or lost some weight because you look like a more vivacious version of yourself and not like a different person."

The process, which the Brooklyn- and San Francisco-based designer outlines on her website, demonstrates the power graphic design can have even (or perhaps especially) when handled with nimble restraint.

Here, Hische details every nip and tuck:

At first blush, the old and new logos aren’t radically different, except that the "M" now connects with the "a," while "Mail" and "Chimp" are no longer joined in one continuous stroke.

But in point of fact, much of the lettering in "Chimp" has been opened up.

That not only takes away some of the scrawling nature of the original, it also makes the logo more legible when viewed in smaller sizes.

Hische also straightened out the baseline, making the signature more regular and precise without jettisoning the friendly feel of the flowing type.

In addition to opening up the letters, Hische lightened the weight and the areas where lines intersect.

Check out that "C": Did you notice the thinner profile in the earlier diagram?

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To say that this project was a redesign is a bit of an overstatement. But it does demonstrate how the structure of a logo can be maintained while given a fresh coat. The diagrams can also serve as Exhibit A for anyone who thinks that the art of graphic design consists of merely choosing the right typeface.

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