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Updated Mar 28, 2024

How to Create a Great Corporate Logo

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Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor

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Given how prominent logos are, rebranding can have an enormous impact on a company. It’s critical for businesses to go about rebranding the right way and avoid confusing or upsetting their audiences.

In a recent study, C+R Research examined some major brands and how their logos have changed in relation to their revenue over time. The results shed light on corporate logo design and the benefits and risks rebranding poses to businesses.

Major companies like Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and Levi’s have each taken different approaches to logo redesigns and rebranding throughout their histories. These industry giants’ rebranding experiences hold valuable lessons for small businesses considering changing their corporate logos.

We’ll explore the importance of a corporate logo and how to design an effective logo that will represent you well to consumers.

FYIDid you know

Creating a visual brand identity isn’t just about your logo. You’ll also need to consider product images, advertisements, social media images and more.

What is a corporate logo, and why do you need one?

A corporate logo is a symbol that represents and identifies your business. It distinguishes your business from others and hints at your identity and values. It also invites people to learn about your brand and helps build customer loyalty.

Perhaps most importantly, your logo goes everywhere: on your business website, social media pages, business cards, marketing materials and more. If you run a storefront, it goes there too. Think about all the Target logos you see when you shop there.

Did You Know?Did you know

People often develop human-like relationships with brands and think of them as partners. How they react to a particular brand is a result of their positive and negative experiences with it.

What you can learn from household-name corporate logos

While the C+R study found that each company’s revenue sometimes fluctuated around the time of logo change, there was no consistent correlation. The conditions surrounding a redesign and the actual product or service are likely more important, said Matt Zajechowski, outreach team lead for Digital Third Coast.

“One thing this analysis confirms is that a lot of marketers who are fretting about the relation of brand aesthetic to revenue should probably be turning their attention to other things first,” Zajechowski said. “There was no consistent, noticeable correlation that showed different logos lead to more or fewer sales. … The most interesting pattern we noted is that many major brands, particularly tech brands, fuss with their logo a lot in the early years. Then, as soon as they take off and experience explosive growth, they back off the logo and leave it alone. Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter are great examples of this behavior.”

So what else can we learn from C+R’s findings? Below are some key takeaways from four corporate giants included in the study.

Starbucks

Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee shop, was established in 1971 with a retro, brown version of its now well-known circular logo. It first added the green-and-white color scheme in 1987, then updated it with a sleeker style in 1992.

In 2011, Starbucks dropped the text “Starbucks Coffee” from its logo entirely, leaving just the central image. Each rebrand was a new iteration of the same logo, with minor changes, often in the direction of a sleeker, more minimalist style.

Apple

Founded in 1976, Apple launched with a drastically different logo than the well-known apple it boasts today. The following year, Apple underwent a redesign that introduced the first apple logo with a rainbow color scheme.

In 1998, Apple rolled out two new logos based on the same image: one in black and the other in a light blue. In 2001, Apple’s chrome logo debuted. Then the company started to increase sales and, in 2007, debuted another chrome apple logo with a shimmery new finish.

Finally, the company introduced a new iteration of the simple black apple logo, which it still uses today.

Apple’s logo redesigns almost always seem to be moving toward a futuristic or advanced feeling. These efforts would naturally be helpful to a big technology company’s brand.

Amazon

After incorporating in 1994, Amazon rebranded in 1997 with two new logos, one of which would go on to serve as the basis for its modern “Amazon.com” imagery. One year later, the company developed two more logos. In 2000, Amazon rebranded yet again, this time sticking with the logo for the long haul.

Amazon has cultivated a brand around one image after iterating six different logo designs in its first six years of existence. Importantly, Amazon began as a bookseller, then expanded to “books, movies, and more,” and now has a hand in seemingly everything. It’s common for a company to rebrand when the business model changes or expands.

Did You Know?Did you know

Amazon hasn’t updated its logo in more than two decades. Its unparalleled success suggests that you don’t need to fix a logo that isn’t broken.

Levi’s

Levi’s is known for one major product: jeans. This famous denim company was established in 1853 and only once changed its logo – in 1936, to today’s red-and-white Levi’s imagery. The brand has used the same logo ever since.

With such an iconic name – Levi Strauss – attached to an easily identifiable product, it’s worth asking if Levi’s ever really needed much of a logo redesign beyond the simple, recognizable logo designed in the ’30s.

What are the risks of logo redesign?

These are some potential downsides of a logo redesign:

  • If consumers are attached to the existing logo, a redesign could backfire and hurt sales.
  • Seeking feedback prior to release from focus groups, for example, can expose weaknesses in the redesign.
  • Change doesn’t always mean progress.

Max Freedman and Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Adam Uzialko, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
Adam Uzialko, senior editor of Business News Daily, is not just a professional writer and editor — he’s also an entrepreneur who knows firsthand what it’s like building a business from scratch. His experience as co-founder and managing editor of a digital marketing company imbues his work at Business News Daily with a perspective grounded in the realities of running a small business. Since 2015, Adam has reviewed hundreds of small business products and services, including contact center solutions, email marketing software and text message marketing software. Adam uses the products, interviews users and talks directly to the companies that make the products and services he covers. He specializes in digital marketing topics, with a focus on content marketing, editorial strategy and managing a team.
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