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Examples Of Bad Logo Redesign – When Companies Go Ugly

When Good Logos Go Bad

So you’ve been running a business for a while, and things are going well. However, you think your logo might be a little dated, and would like to jazz things up with a new logo design. Should you do it?

To consumers, the logo represents the ‘face’ of the company. It communicates the company’s values, history and fundamental characteristics.

While a bad logo redesign won’t really affect sales figures, it’s a wasted opportunity to give consumers a pleasant surprise. A good logo redesign is a fun talking point, and raises the profile of a brand. 

So then, what should you do? Before you decide on anything, allow us to walk you through some redesigns that didn’t quite work:

Examples of Bad Logo Redesigns:

1.  Kraft loses the ‘racetrack’, then gets it back.

Before:

Kraft's logo used from 1976 to present day, though slowly being replaced by the 2012 version. Credit: Kraft Foods Group
Kraft’s logo used from 1976 to present day, though slowly being replaced by the 2012 version.

After:

Kraft's (corporate only) logo redesign in 2009 (Feb-Jun). Image credit: Kraft Foods group
Kraft’s (corporate only) logo redesign in 2009 (Feb-Jun). Nope, they aren’t selling fireworks.

In 2009, Kraft Foods Inc. introduced a new corporate logo to “to more clearly deliver ‘delicious'”, which gained a lot of flak for just about everything. The smile, the colorburst, the colors, and the cheesy (I know) italics weren’t well-received.

This comment, “1 swoosh, 1 capitalized word, 2 fonts, 3 weights, 4 lower-case words, and 9 colors for 1 LOGO” pretty much sums things up.

The logo was ranked the 6th worst logo of 2009 by Brand New.

Then:

Kraft's (corporate only) logo redesign from 2009-2013. Image credit: Kraft Foods group
Kraft’s (corporate only) 2nd logo redesign from 2009-2013. (Fireworks now come with bigger explosions)

5 months later, Kraft introduced a new corporate logo, which was supposedly an improvement of the previous one.

The switching of the angle of the smile, the even larger colorburst, and the non-italic tagline not only didn’t help the situation, but conveyed the impression that the company is fickle-minded.

This new logo was ranked the 5th worst logo of 2009 by Brand New.

finally, to:

Kraft's present consumer logo. Slight variation from the 1976 version. Image credit: Kraft Foods Group
Kraft’s present corporate and consumer logo. Slight variation from the 1976 version.

In 2012, Kraft Foods Inc. split into Mondelēz International and Kraft Foods Group.

As a result, a new, modified version of the classic and memorable 1976 logo was introduced for Kraft Foods group. Whew.

Why it didn’t work:

  1. Too many changes all at once. They removed the classic racetrack. They changed the typeface from uppercase to lowercase. They changed the color scheme altogether. They added a slogan. The only element that remained the same is the word “Kraft”- too little.
  2. Introduction of noisy, irrelevant elements. The smile and the color burst doesn’t seem to represent anything. It’s not at all memorable. They might have fared better if they introduced just one new element, or removed one old element.

2. Gap loses its swag, then gets it back.

From:

Gap 1986-present Logo. Image Credit: Gap Inc.
Gap 1986-present Logo.

to:

Gap 2010 Logo
Gap 2010 Logo. *facepalm*

In 2010, Gap ditched the classic blue square logo, which had been around for more than 20 years. A new logo was introduced to mark a transition from “classic, American design to modern, sexy, cool.” I’m not sure which part of the new logo was meant to express ‘modern, sexy, and cool’. The blue gradient square?

After gaining huge amounts of negative criticisms online, Gap decided to switch back to the previous, more classic design. Smooth move.

Why it didn’t work:

  1. Again, too much at once. ALL-CAPS became lowercase. Serif became sans-serif. The single-color square became smaller, and gradiented. Gap may have had more success if it changed just a couple of elements.

3. Olive Garden lost its grapes.

From:

Olive Garden's previous logo. Image credit: Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Olive Garden’s previous logo.

To:

Olive Garden's new logo. Image credit: Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Olive Garden’s new logo.

In an attempt to stop their declining sales, Olive Garden pushed out a new logo, which would supposedly mark the coming of a ‘brand renaissance’. The critics, however, didn’t quite agree. Some said it was ‘horrible’, a ‘joke’, and another even said that it ‘looked like a Design 1 student project’.

Why it didn’t work:

  • Too drastic. Color, font and texture changes all at once come across as overly radical and loses the original quality of the logo.
  • ‘Weak’ typeface. The formerly crisp and elegant script with its broad, expressive strokes was reduced to a rather flat, dull and mechanical typeface.

4 questions to ask yourself when redesigning your logo:

  1. “Why am I changing my logo?” If you don’t have a really good reason, you probably should leave it alone.
  2. “Is there continuity from the previous logo?” Your new design has to simultaneously communicate the brand’s latest values AND still allow existing fans to recognise the logo.
  3. “Is it memorable?” Your logo should be unique, and recognisable from a distance. Ditch superfluous elements like colorbursts and keep things purposeful.
  4. “What’s the worst thing people will say?” Before launching your new logo in its full glory, solicit negative feedback from close friends or product testers. A trick: Even if you love your logo, suggest that you’re not quite happy with it, and you don’t understand why. Then write down all the feedback you get.

To check out some of the better logo redesigns, check out the post by Business Insider here.

Remember, a logo is never as important as your fundamental business.

As legendary logo designer Paul Rand mentioned, “It (a logo) derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate.”

P.S. Whatever you do, avoid coming up with a logo like this:

Arlington Pediatric Center Logo
Oh dear.

Post inspired by: AdAge.com – When Good Logos Go Bad

Images courtesy of Kraft Foods Group, Gap Inc. & Darden Restaurants Inc.

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.

2 comments

  • I love the new Olive Garden logo…I believe it appeals to a younger more health conscious crowd which is who I think they are trying to draw in. It’s simple, crisp and clean. For that reason, it works. I’m sure everyone that hates it is over 55…and yes, I am being presumptuous. They’d better hope the food delivers however. I was there maybe 5 years ago and the food sucked!

    • Yea, Ovie Garden’s logo redesign is the most decent one here. Personally, a more stylish font might have worked better; this current one looks too…squiggly.

      But hearing from you, it seems their logo wasn’t the main cause of their declining sales…