Recently, UBER CEO, Travis Kalanick took it upon himself to redesign the company’s logo and overall brand look and feel. Ok, he didn’t do it all himself, but he was heavily involved in the process. For the past three years, he and a team of creatives have been working to take UBER to the next level. “There’s an evolution here, for the founder as well as for the company,” Kalanick says. UBER is growing up, and like any company that grows up and hits puberty, it has to change and get some pimples in the face. You’ll notice by my previous statement, that I’m not crazy about the new look, but I do agree with the logo evolution part. Companies need to evolve and in doing so, the way they are graphically depicted needs to evolve as well. Some choose a subtle change, others, like UBER, go all out.
Excellent logo evolution examples
Remember when Netflix only arrived through your mail box? Today, Netflix sits on top of the streaming media world and “with great power comes great responsibility,” and responsible they were, giving us an updated version of their logo. Previously, the logo had a hard drop shadow that helped them stand out in those red envelopes. The typeface resembled a marque-type of lettering you would see in a movie theater. Now they’ve gone flat. Keeping the integrity of the original logo, they extended the type and added some weight. They also removed the dimensionality, making it sleeker, contemporary and more appropriate to their technological nature.
IHOP is my daughters’ favorite restaurant. They love the food (who doesn’t love pancakes at night, right?) and they are amazed by the fact the that ‘they never close!’ While breakfast joints used to be gathering grounds for older folk, more and more young families have been making their presence known, and IHOP was smart to recognize this and adapt to it. This was a no-brainer. They wanted to appeal to a younger audience so they literally took that frown and turned it upside down. They also got away from the boxed-in type and upgraded to a lighter shade of blue giving the brand a fresh and ‘always’ open feel.
This one is an oldie but a goodie. In 1961, Paul Rand gave the UPS a face and it held up pretty good for about 40 years. In 2003, UPS decided to keep up with the changing times and upgraded to this dynamic mark. They lost the package on top of the shield because, after 40 years in business, people know what you do. They replaced it with a swoosh that’s meant to add some movement to the logo. Something the old one lacked. Although I’m not crazy for the 3D Effects (which they removed recently) I believe it was a good logo evolution to their identity.
Another logo that was due for a face lift was Stanley Tools, and the company did so in 2013. The previous logo was not a very good logo, but it did a great job as a logo: It made the company look rugged and tough; it established them as a leader in the industry and it made them stand out in the aisle. But, all good bad things must come to an end. A recent merger with Black & Decker and with a new slew of industries to cover, Stanley decided it was time for a refresh. The new logo was not asked to do a lot. Adding some breathing room to the type and freeing it from its container, Stanley keeps the same look but gets a whole new feel. A more contemporary feel that still stands out in the aisle. The only real differentiator is the custom ‘N’ that uses a stencil treatment to add some uniqueness to the mark. Overall, I think the new logo evolution will continue to carry the torch for many years to come.
I used American Airlines’ original logo as an example to my previous post. It’s a great logo that stood the test of time for 45 years. But it too had to retire and let another captain pilot the plane to the airlines’ next destination. During the logo evolution, the new symbol is simple, but packed with different meanings: It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s an ‘A’ (another movie reference for ya!) The slanted symbol split into the brighter red, white and blue colors of the US flag acts as one of the stem strokes of an A. It is also the vertical stabilizer or fin of an airplane. And finally, it’s an eagle in mid-flight. This eagle is created by a slight bend that pulls the crossbar of the A over the stem stroke. Paired with a clean and simple typography, American Airlines delivers a logo that reflects their soaring spirit.
Amazon’s logo is great. It very simply conveys that you can find everything from A to Z on their website. They do this by using an arrow that also doubles as a friendly smile or grin, that has become as recognizable as the Nike swoosh. But it wasn’t always all smiles at Amazon when it comes to their logo evolution. It took several versions over the course of 5 years to land on ‘The One.’ This last example shows the evolution that Amazon went though to get their smile. The reason they had the luxury of doing what is considered a capital sin in branding (to change your logo every year) is because they weren’t competing against anyone. They didn’t have to stand out off of a shelve. People were coming directly to them. So they had the opportunity to do a bunch of trial and error with their logo and it helped mold it into what it is today. I’m glad too. I don’t think the first version of Amazon’s logo would look that good etched into your Kindle.
Growing more and more on a daily basis, with more of its own products continuing to launch, and the rumor of Amazon opening brick and mortar stores across the country, don’t be surprised if we get a redesign of Amazon’s logo soon. After all, the current one just turned 16. In my opinion, these examples showcase some of the best logo redesigns. They all had to step out of the comfort zone of having a recognizable and established mark and venture into the new. When done right, brands evolve gracefully, when done wrong, you run a bigger risk of going extinct.