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Points of View: Is it time to relook your logo?

By Devesh Gupta and Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | September 12, 2013
The sum of everything that a brand or a company stands for is represented in its logo. How does one gauge what is the right time to go in for a change?

Yahoo!, one of the best-known logos in the world, went in for a new look recently. It was the first time since it was established 18 years ago that it had refreshed its logo. The redesigned look is a part of the makeover that Yahoo Inc has been undergoing since the company hired Marissa Mayer as President and CEO in the middle of 2012.

Rarely is there agreement on whether a new logo has worked or not. A large percentage of consumers often pines for the old look while another bunch generally thinks that the alteration is not radical enough. In any case, deciding on change is a tough call, especially if the brand is well known and liked. afaqs! talks to the experts on the rules of change - if any.

Sujata Keshavan

Nikhil Rungta

Ashwini Deshpande

Harish Bijoor

Sujata Keshavan, Managing Director, Ray+Keshavan

You do not change your logo without a good reason. Changing it is a means of communicating the fact that there is a serious change in the company - that there is a change in the way you do things or a change in your priorities perhaps. When you change your logo, it generates expectations which an organisation then has to work and fulfill.

There are no rules for when to change your logo. It can exist for hundreds of years if the organisation keeps following the same practices. Many companies, which have existed for long, tend to change their logos if it was originally designed by a local printer or in an amateurish way. They feel the need to change when they go professional or expand globally.

Nikhil Rungta, Chief Business Officer, Yebhi.com

There is no fixed formula that a brand should relook its logo after so many years. It is a part of the evolution a business goes through. In our case, when we redesigned our logo in April 2013, our intention was to shed our startup image and adorn a look that established brands have. In our evolution as a business, we realised that at launch, the founders hadn't bothered much about the logo as they were focused more on scaling up the business. Eventually the business grew and we became a popular brand among the youth. Hence to capture this in our branding, we adopted the colour red that symbolises youth, energy and passion. The inspiration came from the most commonly used symbol of the internet - @.

Timing has nothing to do with a logo change. It is all about how you want people to perceive you as a brand. In terms of changing long-standing logos, many businesses prefer to do small tweaks because consumers tend to become comfortable with one design. For me, personally, it will take time to get accustomed to the new Yahoo! logo.

Ashwini Deshpande, Founder Director and Principal Designer, Elephant Strategy + Design

Rebranding is not just a new logo. A change in visual identity is the most visible announcement of change. But corporate identity change is an inside-out process that relooks at aligning internal thoughts and action with that of the intended consumer of the brand.

The right time to look at change is when there is a gap between the brand perception and audience expectations and the gap starts adversely affecting consumption.

Rebranding is not about discarding everything to take up a new avataar. It is about identifying the parts of the brand equity that should never change and separating them from the ones that are redundant as far as the audience is concerned.

There are internal as well as external factors that necessitate rebranding. Foremost is the redundancy of expression that creates gaps. But quite often, revolutionary change in technology and offerings or surprising move from the competition also makes large brands look at change in visual identity.

As a consumer of Yahoo! content, it is still all caps, purple and sits exactly at the same place where it always did. Ok. So it is cleaner and straighter. No hopping letters. But does that mean there will no more be "fun" at Yahoo!? Will it be more business focused? Only serious content?

As a graphic designer with typographic curiosities, this logo seems meticulously detailed. No lines are straight, no ends are flat, the exclamation is at the same precise angle (nine degrees, if you please), letter forms have the third dimension and purple has lost the magenta to make way for more cyan.

But I fail see the leap or the change and it feels like a lost opportunity. May be we will see the purpose unfolding over time and then this identity will fall in place.

Harish Bijoor, brand strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults

There is, of course, no ideal time for a brand to relook its logo or branding. I think what happens with established brands is that the exposure and over-exposure of their logo brings in fatigue among consumers as well as the brand custodians and hence they implement those small tweaks and changes. In terms of Yahoo!, I would say that they were rather late in implementing the change. Fifteen years is a long time, especially when you are dealing with the young online audience.

What a brand needs rather is to keep a tab on its consumers' mindset regularly through surveys. This generation of internet-savvy consumers changes their preferences fast and a brand needs to address them. It depends on what generation of consumers the brand is addressing. A Tata Tea might need to change its branding and logo in eight years, whereas a Mercedes might take longer time to do it as it addresses a more classy audience.

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