Brands of all kinds should take notice. Instagram’s new logo is being universally hated (well, almost). One article called it “pretty bad,” while another labeled it a “travesty”.

Twitter was abuzz with users mocking it. Some made fun of the new flat red design, while others lamented the passing of the skeuomorphic button that had been with them since Instagram first started and which they had grown to rely on.

A few months ago it was Uber that had got into hot water after unveiling a new logo. That was such a fail that reportedly the design head of the company had to quit.

In both cases, however, the logo continues to be in use and we have little doubt all will be soon well in the world of Instagram and Uber. Gap wasn’t so lucky, however. The widespread criticism of their new logo introduced in 2010 forced the retail giant to revert to its old one.

Why do people have such extreme reactions to logo changes? What is so bad about the new Instagram logo or any logo, really?

While ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is subjective, the extent of the reaction depends on how invested one is in a brand. The logo is the face of a brand and any change is likely to be taken personally. After all, the brands we love the most are an extension of our personality. We identify with them and a change in this regard could end up being a shock to the system.

A logo change is a big deal not just for a company but also for the loyal followers of a business. Change is also hard to digest. The Instagram fiasco is only the latest case in point.

What can businesses learn from this? Here’s our take:

Decide if a new logo is necessary.

It’s good to evolve with times. Especially if your brand has been around for say 10 years or so and the world has changed a lot during that time. Your customer base may have grown, evolved or completely changed. You may even offer different services!

In short, a business might feel their success or evolution is not being adequately represented by their current logo or that the design looks outdated. Aesthetic reasons alone are perfectly acceptable.

Define your reasons behind a new logo.

A business needs to have a very good reason to change a logo that is popular or it might lead to brand confusion as well as alienation in the target audience.

What would be the purpose of the logo change or the redesign? Would it better represent the brand, the company and its future goals? Would it help the business strengthen its position in the market, and differentiate itself further from the competition that may have cropped up in recent times? Would it feel more modern, more in tune with the times?

If that is the case, by all means proceed.

In most cases customers will not have as strong a reaction as they did with Instagram. They might not necessarily like the logo but chances are they will get used to it.

Establish your message.

With a new logo or a general change in the overall design of the website, a business is sending out a pretty strong message.

Rebranding is tricky. It might help to undertake a PR campaign or at least explain on the reasons behind the change and what you expect from it in a blog post.

A business needs to do this so as not to leave it to the customers, prospects or the media in general to decide for themselves the reasons behind the change. More than likely, their assumptions will be wrong.

Determine if a user reaction test would be helpful.

Big corporates are known to undertake focus group testing prior to the introduction of any big change.

Clue and Verify are two apps that can help businesses gauge the reaction of their target audience to a new logo design.

There are surveys that can be undertaken in this regard, or those on your email list asked to share their opinion on the design. A business can also elicit feedback via their Facebook page or create a closed group for this purpose.

But as proven by logo changes that blew in their faces, testing the waters may not always help. If you do have the budget for it though, it’s recommended.

Manage expectations.

No one wants to create a ‘fail’ logo or one that is universally mocked. A lot of thought and concept testing goes behind such upgrades but it is also not possible to please everyone.

A business needs to be clear about its own reasons for introducing the change and the owners should be involved with the team that is redesigning the logo. It is crucial that everyone is in agreement about the final design and the reasons behind it.

User reaction test might be a good idea if you have a big and varied sample size (belonging to your target audience.)

Send out a press release, email your followers or update your blog before the introduction of the new logo as well as after its introduction. Spell out your reasons for the change, what it means for the company, and the hard work behind it.

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to introduce a redesign but were skeptical about how it would be received by the users? How did you manage it? Please share your experience in the comments!


Pete Peranzo

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