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There are many reasons why companies decide to change their logos, which include: modernizing a logo, changes in company names, or even rebranding. Just like styles and trends change over time, so should logos change with current fashions. A company logo formed in the 60’s might have a psychedelic style theme to it, which would have been ok for that era, but modern customers might see it as vintage or old. Changes in company names or structures can also create a need for a new brand logo. For example, if a company is bought out or merged with another company they might need a new logo to distinguish them as a new company. A complete rebranding is needed if the original logo was really bad, didn’t align with the company’s core values, or if it just wasn’t memorable enough to distinguish them from their competitors. Here are some examples of how major brands from different industries have changed over the years:
In 1940, brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald opened their own barbeque joint and named it, “McDonald's Bar-B-Que.” They mostly sold bar-b-q, but noticed that most of their profit was made from selling hamburgers. They later removed the bar-b-q section in their name and renamed it, “Mc Donald’s Famous Hamburgers,” in 1948. Eventually by 1953, they shortened their name once more and left it as, “McDonald’s.” The reason for the shortening in name was because, by the 1950’s, they had already established themselves as a fast food burger joint, so there wasn’t a need for them to have such a long brand name. In the 1960’s they came up with the logo we almost know today. A big, “M,” made up of golden arches. This coincided with the advertising campaign they ran at the time, which was to, “Look for the Golden Arches.” Variations for the, “The Golden Arches,” have changed throughout the years to keep up with the times, but that has been their main logo.
Kentucky Fried Chicken was created by entrepreneur Colonel Sanders, who began selling his style of Kentucky style fried chicken in 1952. Because the colonel single-handedly started the franchise, his face has become a major part of their logo and marketing since the very beginning. Originally their logo contained the full name of the restaurant, “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” but it was later shortened, in 1991, because they felt the word, “Fried,” made it sound too unhealthy. As of 2014, they have sometimes brought back the logo with the full name, “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” on some advertisements.
H & R Block was founded in 1955 by brothers Henry and Richard Bloch as a tax preparation, bookkeeping, and accounting service company. Their self-titled company was named, “H & R Block,” so that people wouldn’t mispronounce their last name, “Bloch.” During the 1990’s they started to grow and offer more types of financial services such as: mortgage loans, banking, and business services. Around this time, they also changed their logo color to green in order to better represent their brand, green representing the color of money. They also created a square block for their logo as a literal visualization of, “Block,” from, “H & R Block.”
In 1852, Henry Wells and William Fargo founded the financial service company, “Wells Fargo.” Traveling by 6-horse stagecoach, their brand name was etched in golden lettering onto the side of the stagecoaches as, “Wells Fargo & Company.” This typeface logo was also used on much of their property. From 1993-2008, they incorporated the 6-horse stagecoach as part of their logo design and to keep their long western heritage. In 2008, Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia and with that their logo changed to a red square with golden typeface, “Wells Fargo.”
Henry Ford founded “Ford Motor Company,” the Detroit, Michigan based automobile company in 1903. Most notably known for creating the assembly line, as well as many other business and automotive innovations, their original emblem was based on the factory location itself, “Ford Motor Co. Detroit-Mich.” Later around 1909, they started using a patented, “Script with wings,” logo that extends the letter “F” and “D” in the word, “Ford.” This calligraphy was designed by C. Harold Will, and it’s similar to the style that is found today in their logo. A version of the oval shape that we know today was first used in 1907, as a way to advertise the brand’s,” hallmark for reliability and economy.” Although the Ford blue oval that we know today was used within company communications since 1927, it wasn’t until 1976 that they first started using it on vehicles.
The original logo for the Volkswagen Beatle, was created in 1938 by Franz Reimspiess in Germany during WWII. This original design contained both the letters V and W, as well as a swastika to attribute the Nazi regime. After World War II, the company was taken over by the British and the original logo had the swastika symbol removed, but the letters, “VW,” were kept. Later on, the company was returned to the Germans and the more modern blue VW logo was created in 1967. This shade of blue varied until 1995 when their darker shade of blue was added.
The 1990’s brought the birth of the computer and internet age. One of the major influencers and brands that we know today is the search engine Google, which was created in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally as a research project while they were going Stanford University. The original Google logo was subject to low computer resolution and slow internet, so it had to be simple and quick enough to load on most computers. During beta-testing in 1997-1998, the logo looked more like clipart than the logo we know today. In 1998, they came up with the logo we basically know today, except that they used an exclamation point, which they removed a year later. Their modern logo we’re most familiar with was created by Ruth Kedar, an artist and designer who also attended Stanford University. Because Google is an internet brand, they are able to change their logo on a monthly or even daily basis. They usually do this to correlate with the holidays or sometimes just for fun.
Another internet company that originated in the 1990’s was the other famous search engine, Yahoo!. Their first logo in 1994 was also subject to slow internet connections and low resolution. The first one being a simple, “Yahoo,” in Times New Roman font. Although, this made it easier for webpages to load, it would not be sufficient enough to function as a logo. They also experimented with clipart type of logos during their first year. By 1995, they came up with the red logo we mostly know today, but in 2009 they decided to change their color to purple. The final change was made in 2013 when they came up with the more modern version of their logo.
MTV was originally going to be named, “The Music Chanel,” but later renamed Music Television or MTV for short. They first launched in 1981, as a channel that would show music videos hosted by video djs. Eventually in 2010, the words, “MUSIC TELEVISION,” were cut from their logo because the network had decreased their music videos and focus was more more on reality based programming. Also, the 2010 logo became slightly elongated to better fit the new HDTV format widescreens that many viewers were watching from. Because of the simplicity of their main logo, they have been able to achieve a global brand recognition with both young and old generations.
Fox Broadcasting Company(FOX) is an American television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group. The channel first debuted in 1986, along with their logo of three squares with the letters: F, B, and C, which represented, “Fox Broadcasting Company.” In 1987, they adopted the logo from their affiliate, 21st Century Fox, who are more known for film rather than television. This logo consists of the word, “FOX,” and displays spotlights being shown upwards. The present logo used by FOX is either a variation of the 21st Century FOX spotlight logo or just the typeface, “FOX.”
Many brand names end up using the founder’s names for their logo. Brand names and logos might adapt easy to pronounce names to avoid confusion. As a brand matures and gains more recognition, their logos and brand names tend to shorten. Mergers with different companies will also cause a need for a brand’s logo to change to distinguish them as a new company. Using nothing but plain font for a brand logo might work for a bit, but it’s not sustainable enough to make a brand memorable. Experimenting with different colors in the logo is a small way to change a logo and give it a fresher look without having to revamp the whole thing. Old logos can sometimes be reused at a later time. It doesn’t hurt to try out a new logo design as long as it fits the company’s style and keeps up with the current trends.