Logo redesign projects can be challenging for even the most experienced creative. Designer Armin Vit, co-founder of UnderConsideration, shares his insights.
Even seasoned designers approach logo redesign projects with caution; stay too close to the original and you risk not making an impact, stray too far and you might alienate your client's core audience. What's a creative to do?
Any designer who truly loves logos and brand identity has probably visited Brand New, a site devoted to critiquing new and redesigned logos. The man behind almost all of Brand New's content is designer, writer and speaker Armin Vit, who took some time with us to explore the art of redesigning existing logos.
What's your favorite example of a recent successful logo redesign?
It would have to be the Whitney, designed by Experimental Jetset. There is a great edgy simplicity to it that is really hard to achieve, especially with a single letter and at such a thin rendering. The way the "W" flexes and adapts is a perfect device for a contemporary art museum, allowing the in-house team to be creative and not repeat themselves with a static logo.
Where do you think most designers struggle when it comes to redesigning logos?
The challenge is in selling it to the client. Most designers can come up with great ideas and executions but they have a hard time communicating to non-designers why it may be the optimal solution. And it's not about convincing a client that your idea is the best or selling them some BS rationalization. It's about finding a common ground of language and understanding about why a visual solution is appropriate for their communication needs.
What do you consider the biggest "missed opportunity" in a recent logo redesign?
It would have to be Yahoo! It's not because their new logo is bad – it's not – but they had built up so much anticipation through their 30-days-of-logos stunt that anything short of extraordinary – and I mean that literally, something out of the ordinary – was the only possible way to live up to it and reward all the media attention they received.
Are there any hard-and-fast rules to successful logo redesigns?
Can it be drawn from memory? If yes, you win at logo design. What that means is that a successful logo is something that is both memorable and simple: It makes an impression in the mind and it stays there.
Is there a logo "trend" that you wish designers would give up right away?
Flat for flatness's sake. There is nothing wrong with flat per se, it's just that it has been taken to the extreme where a green square with a Helvetica Light word mark next to it is considered a logo. What a lot of people seem to forget is that flat design is the way logos started! You know, they were, like, flat, because that was the limit of reproduction. One color, that's it. Five or ten different sizes, that's it. So it's a trend that should be treated as one of the most basic principles of logo design, not just an aesthetic decision.
If you could be hired to redesign any logo in the world, what would you choose and how would you improve it?
Payless ShoeSource. I've always disliked that redesign. I would bring back the Cooper Black typography and I would build a whole visual language around Cooper Black and then I would hire some awesome type designer to draw a "light" version of Cooper Black for headlines plus an awesome text font for body copy. And then I would make giant inflatable Cooper Black balloons and release them in the middle of Times Square. (Either that or a square with a Helvetica Light word mark.)
If you could work with anyone (besides your talented wife) to redesign the UnderConsideration logo/word mark, who would you choose?
Besides Brand New, what are the best resources for designers to see lots of good logos and logo redesigns?
Armin Vit is the co-founder of UnderConsideration, a graphic design enterprise in Austin, TX, which manages a network of blogs, publishes books, organizes live events and competitions, and designs for clients. Vit is currently scrambling to finish the website for the 2014 Brand New Conference in Chicago.