A visual representation of a company, a logo is often how customers recognize the brand and identify the products or services they offer. Some are quite literal, while others are more clever and creative. Over time, logos can become outdated as the company evolves and graphic design capabilities change, leading to a need for a refreshed look that is different than the previous logo, but not such an immense departure that customers are no longer able to recognize the brand. Unfortunately, not every company is able to balance these two essential keys to success. Even Google, who recently released a new logo to mixed reviews, is not immune to the criticism that comes with a new look. There have been many failed logo redesigns over the years, but these ones take the cake.
15. USA Today
As a national American newspaper, USA Today’s logo is important for both customer recognition and to appear as a trustworthy source of information, which is why it has only been redesigned once in their 33 year history. But some would say that was one too many, as the new look left much to be desired. While the original logo conveyed the message of rapid news delivery from around the world, the new one feels as though they are trying to teach kids shapes and colors. Certainly not the most creative endeavor in the history of graphic design.
14. Best Buy
Not many logos use yellow in them, let alone the bold hue that Best Buy selected for their original look, but that, along with the bold all-caps font, made it instantly recognizable. So when they released a redesign in 2008, it was a shocking and unnecessary departure. The bright yellow they’d been known for was demoted to a simple price tag outline, muted by a dark blue backdrop and accompanying soft font. Consumers were not won over by the change, saying it looked appropriate for a dollar store, not a retailer of high-end electronics. While the new look was implemented in several stores, they ultimately retreated back to the original logo. Sometimes it’s just best not to mess with a good thing.
Many were surprised when RadioShack released a logo redesign in 2014, mostly because they weren’t aware that RadioShack still existed. And the company didn’t do much to help re-establish themselves among other electronics retailers, like the aforementioned Best Buy, with a new look that is reminiscent of 1970s shag rugs and wood paneling. While the font choice certainly steers toward more recent times, the abandonment of their classic red and black colors for washed out shades of orange and brown only helped to solidify what we all already know: RadioShack is beyond saving.
12. Internet Explorer
We imagine there were resounding cheers across the globe when Microsoft announced earlier this year that they were killing off Internet Explorer. But, cleverly, they haven’t abandoned the product at all. In fact, what they’ve done is a magnificent rebrand. And by magnificent we mean it went from IE to just “E,” for Edge, and the logo simply shed its halo and got a paint job. You’ve really pulled the wool over our eyes this time, Microsoft.
Look no further than JCPenney for a perfect example of America’s struggling department stores. Having rebranded four times in the last four years, they’ve not only spent an immense amount of time and money, but have confused and frustrated their dwindling customer base as well. Looking at how the logo has changed over its past four iterations, it’s clear that they are hung up on two critical elements: whether or not to use the square, and which shade of red really screams JCPenney. As far as we’re concerned, they haven’t quite captured the color of irate customers just yet. Fifth time’s the charm?
10. Animal Planet
We’re all for simplifying, but not when it takes away from the message the logo is meant to communicate. But that’s just what happened when Animal Planet switched up their look in 2010. Where the previous logo’s elephant and globe imagery conveyed what the channel was all about, the new logo abandoned these elements in favor of letters that varied in width and shades of green. Oh, and an “M” laying on its side. Apparently that was meant to communicate the “wild” element. Unfortunately, this message was lost on their viewers.
Reebok has never had much luck in the logo department. They’ve been trying for decades to exude the same degree of coolness associated with brands like Nike and Adidas, often by copycatting elements of their logos, to no avail. 2014’s new logo is yet another example of them trying to establish their identity. The newest look features the triangle symbol, which had previously been used only for their crossfit apparel, and the same wordmark as the previous logo (from 2008) except it had been changed from blue to black. These two elements don’t seem to complement one another either, with the tip of the triangle sitting much higher than the peaks of the letters next to it. Given that they’ve had 11 different logos since their establishment in 1986, we’re certain this look won’t hang around for too long.
A manufacturer of many popular food items, Kraft fell off the rails a bit (…a lot) with their logo redesign in 2009. While most companies are choosing to simplify their logos, Kraft did the opposite. Where the previous look featured only two colors and one font, the new one used nine colors and four fonts between the text and the “smile-and-splash” visual element. The backlash was immediate, causing Kraft to update the logo only five months later. Unfortunately, the update wasn’t much of an improvement, retaining all of the elements from the previous logo but with altered placement and colors. This version hung on for three years before the company returned to its roots in 2012 with a mild update of the blue and red logo they’d been using since 1988.
7. Olive Garden
This popular Italian-American eatery just can’t win. When they released their previous logo in 1998 it was met with harsh criticism of the fake cursive font choice, stucco background and a grapevine instead of, you know, an olive tree branch. Yet it was eventually embraced and became widely recognizable during its 16 years. But Olive Garden was again the subject of backlash when they released their rebranded look in 2014. The new look featured yet another fake cursive typeface, lackluster colors and completely removed the homely kitchen feel. The only positive was that the company had finally discovered what olives look like.
When Pepsi unveiled its new logo in 2008 people were taken aback. And not in a good way. The font was certainly a change, from big block letters to light, round lower-case letters. But the real disappointment came with the red, blue and white circle. The traditional wave was swapped with what some referred to as a smile, while others saw it as a big belly spilling from between a red top and blue pants. Clearly Pepsi themselves must have liked it, as they paid a whopping $1 million to the advertising agency Arnell Group for the design.
5. London 2012
When London submitted their bid for the 2012 Olympics, their logo had people excited; it was clean and sophisticated. But when the official logo for the games was unveiled, people were less than impressed. Given that it cost $625,000, you’d think that it wouldn’t have come out looking like small children used zigzag scissors to cut it out of construction paper. Apparently the International Olympic Committee was genuinely surprised by the backlash, which even prompted a petition to have the logo changed (generating over 50,000 signatures in its two day life). Many criticized it for looking like it came out of the ’80s or ’90s, while others called is racist, claiming they could see the word “Zion” in the assortment of shapes. But the International Olympic Committee stood by the design, saying it represented the brand that was the year 2012 and its youthful energy.
Tropicana branding has always been very recognizable, with the iconic straw stuck into an orange. To their customers this signified freshness and purity, which set them apart from the competition. But a logo redesign in 2009 saw them drop this imagery in favor of a clean look that used a full glass of orange juice on the face of the product, along with new fonts and altered brand colors. Unfortunately, this new look wasn’t immediately recognizable to shoppers, and the change made them question their ability to trust the brand. The company saw sales plummet 20% in one month, forcing them to abandon the new design and revert back to the previous appearance. Ultimately, this visual experiment cost Tropicana a whopping $35 million.
Airbnb had good intentions with their new logo, they really did. The new look is certainly an improvement from their previous graffiti-style logo, but the “Bélo” (the universal symbol for belonging, according to Airbnb) has been interpreted as many different things, not the least of which are sexual organs. In addition, the company has been accused of lifting this symbol from several other companies, namely a tech firm called Automation Anywhere. Despite the criticism, Airbnb seems committed to their new branding and what they feel it represents.
Hoping to shed their classic all-caps name in a dark blue square, which has been in use since 1986, Gap introduced a new logo in the fall of 2010. The new logo featured a more modern font and reduced the prominence of the well-known blue box, where it only slightly overlapped the letter “p.” Needless to say, people were not impressed. Social media networks became sounding boards for those wishing to express their criticism of the new look. After only one week in use, the new logo was scrapped and the company reverted back to what they’d previously used.
AOL’s 2009 logo update is the definition of trying too hard. First of all, the name was changed from AOL to Aol. (yes, with a period). Second of all, they didn’t just release one new logo, but six. Each of these logos feature the wordmark overlayed onto an image, the likes of which include a goldfish, a rockstar hand symbol, and a ball of green squiggles. In their attempt at creating adaptive logos they’ve managed to convey only one thing about their company’s current status: confused.