Coca-Cola is a brand synonymous with its long history, and the Cocoa-Cola logo feels like one that’s never changed, though of course, it has changed a lot over the years. Like most brands in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Coca-Cola artists went overboard with their turn-of-the-century designs. Coca-Cola went with a logo with beveled text, and shadow, giving it a three-dimensional feel. In 2007 Coca-Cola went back the drawing board and cleaned up their logo, with a redesign that made the text flat, slightly skinnier, and with no shadow, bevel, or fancy photoshop effects. It shows Coca-Cola has a confidence in their history, and that they do not need to resort to bells and whistles. Q: What does your brand’s logo say about your history?
Pepsi was an even worse offender of the late 90’s-early 2000’s over complicated design. Their text was beveled, had a blue backdrop, a shadow, and the globe was glistening, wet, and with a very unnecessary soft glow. The globe started off as a flat-shaded object in the 90’s and got progressively more complicated until being completely redesigned in 2008. The wavy white divider between red and blue became a swish, and one that Pepsi could customize between brands like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi Max. Smartly, they left the old Pepsi Globe as an element of the letter “e” in Pepsi. Their redesign at once shows that Pepsi is ever-evolving, but also that it remembers its roots. Q: Does your brand’s logo feel forward-thinking?
The old eBay logo was appropriate for the eBay of 1995; new, wacky, and a little untrustworthy. The differently sized overlapping letters made sense for a new bidding website, but after 17 long years of good and reputable business, it was time the website took a new serious look. The eBay logo of 2012 shows how their business has changed—all the letters are in order, they’re the same size, they’re less extreme, and they represent a professional business. Looking at the old eBay logo, it’s almost a wonder anyone would give a website with that kind of logo their credit card information. Q: Does your brand’s logo instill confidence, and credibility?
The Google logo launched in 1999 is iconic, though it didn’t quite foreshadow what a tech giant the company would become. The mixed colors and the occasionally changing Google Doodle was the face of a zany personality, though the name “Google” sounded innocent enough, public perception would inevitably change. Google became a household name, a verb, the number one place people went for images, map directions, e-mail, cloud storage, etc. The tech giant couldn’t continue using the logo from its humble beginnings; something felt off. By cleaning up the logo in 2013, Google took a step in the right direction. The letters weren’t beveled, there was no more drop shadow; the logo simply matured, though it wasn’t very different. In 2015 Google completely threw out the old font, and went in favor of a simple sans serif. Where eBay’s logo had to change to reflect how honest it had become, Google’s logo had to change to more honestly reflect how big it had become. The drastic logo change from 1999 to 2015 honestly reflects the drastic changes within the company. Q: What’s the first logo your brand ever used, and how much has changed since it was created?
#5 Google Chrome
The story of Google’s web browser, Chrome, is a shorter and simpler one. It shouldn’t take long to see what’s wrong with the old design—it is simply over designed. It looks like it’s supposed to be a piece of future technology; is it a wheel? The shininess and sharp angles make it look like something that can spin quickly. At any rate, this looked bad in 2008, and the flattened minimalist redesign in 2011 was welcome. Part of the minimalist philosophy is refining what the original idea was, and recreating something with as little flair as possible. Whatever the original Chrome logo was supposed to be, the new logo does it better, with flat shading, and a perfect circle shape. Q: What’s the core idea of your logo, and how can it be better communicated?
#6 Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is the second-most popular browser behind Google Chrome. Right around the same time Google Chrome had it’s awful shiny logo, Firefox had a similarly over-the-top design. A wonderfully detailed Fox circles the Earth while on fire. It can be a wonderful piece of art, but when viewed at 90 pixels by 90 pixels at the bottom on a computer monitor, it’s all wasted. In every case of successful redesign, a brand’s logo has become less complicated, not more. By removing some of the shine, but not all of the detail, Firefox’s logo remains an appealing piece of work, while turning down the volume on what’s going on visually. Q: Is your brand’s logo functioning as a piece of art, or as a logo?
#7 Comedy Central
Comedy Central has the most extreme case of redesign featured on this list. Since 1991 their logo had been some variation of a city on a globe with the Comedy Central text wrapped around the globe. After 20 years, the comedy network completely reinvented their logo—but not the channel itself. If anything the logo represented what Comedy Central had become since the 1990s. The old logo resembled a logo for a comedy club, which was appropriate for a channel that played a lot of standup and comedy movies. Yet Comedy Central’s original programming had developed a bigger and higher-brow comedic reputation. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart became such much-watch TV, and a lot of people’s source for news and political satire, that it almost demanded a logo that people took as seriously as the show. In 2011 Comedy Central unveiled a new logo that did just that. The C-within-a-C sits more quietly at the bottom right of the television screen than the loud City-on-a-Globe, but the upside down “Central” acts as a reminder that this is in fact, a comedy station, and one that can make a mockery of its own logo. Q: Does your brand’s first logo reflect who you are as a brand anymore?
Back in 2001, Microsoft’s revamping of their classic Windows logo was a fiercely minimalist move. If you recall, the Windows logo from Windows 95, 98, and 2000 had a black border, and a colorful trail. In 2001, with the release of Windows XP, Microsoft’s computers became simpler and cleaner looking, and the Windows logo reflected that. The italicized Microsoft font, and the dash slicing through the first “o,” also emphasized the new speed of the computers at the time. Microsoft’s new look, as of 2014, also reflects the recent improvements in the computing world. The new square window design resembles the tiles of Windows Phones and Windows 10; it’s a redesign that says that Microsoft is ready to adapt to an app and mobile based future. Q: How has your once-progressive logo aged over time?
Another brand that redesigned their logo to get with the times was Netflix. Back when Netflix used their old logo, they did most of their business via the mail. You watched most Netflix content on DVDs sent through the mail, and you were able to stream a few things online. As Netflix backed away from DVDs, adding a streaming-only subscription model, they needed a logo that backed away from the old model as well. Nothing was wrong with the design, except that it would remind people that Netflix used to send DVDs in the mail. As a company that wanted people to take its original programming seriously, a logo redesign was necessary. By removing the drop shadow, and inverting the color focus—red text on a white background instead of vice versa—Netflix found a logo that authenticated its presence as an internet giant. Q: Is your brand’s logo hurting your brand with outdated associations?
For Starbucks’ 40th anniversary, the company went with a bold logo redesign. It freed the siren from the old logo, who was always surrounded by the “STARBUCKS COFFEE” text, and made her the star of the logo. The brilliant thing about the Starbucks redesign is that they took advantage of their brand’s reach. The new logo was printed on every cup and every cardboard cup holder, and was spread everywhere by the millions of Starbucks customers walking around with the new brand in their hands. The logo does not need to say “Starbucks Coffee” anywhere, because the brand is omnipresent—text or no text, there’s no question about what the green sigil on a coffee cup means—it means Starbucks. Q: What design element is lingering in your brand’s logo, waiting to break free like the Starbucks’ Siren?