We’ve all been there before. The moment you realize that your look hasn’t changed in years and it’s time for an update. Something needs to change but you don’t want to lose your loyal audience in the process. Sometimes all you need is a new hair style, an updated wardrobe, new glasses—these are the little ways we all refresh our personal looks. Refreshing a brand is not much different.
Designers face similar challenges when working on an established logo. At times it’s appropriate to blow up the brand and start anew, but other times it’s best to make subtler adjustments. This allows the client’s customers, who may be very loyal, to not go into brand-shock.
When I’m interpreting an existing brand, one approach I take is to find the strength of the current brand and use that as the stepping stone when conceiving the new identity. And as always, simplify. This is evident in companies large and small who’ve gone through multiple rebrands. Over time their identities become simplified. They become easy to reproduce and to their customers, they become more of a symbol than just a logo. A great example of this is when Starbucks refreshed their logo in 2011.
We recently refreshed the identity of an Orchard Park restaurant, formerly David’s Grille, now O.P. Social Tap & Grille. When they came to us, their logo came in one circular lockup. There were multiple circles, layers of strokes and gradients. The hierarchy of the name itself was in question and the logo contained the logo again on a glass of beer in the center of the circle. It was very meta.
We understood the changes they were undergoing. They were switching gears from fine dining to a more relaxed atmosphere, trying to attract a wider range of customers to the restaurant while not alienating their existing customers.
Their former logo, we could tell, was trying tell the story of a friendly neighborhood establishment, welcoming to the community. We did not want to not lose that feeling.
We decided that the carved, heritage-style lettering would tie together the old and new. We strengthened the lettering by setting up a clearer hierarchy of the name system, simplifying the color scheme to a metallic copper and including elements of beer and dough through the wheat sprigs that flank portions of the logo. The finished brand is clear on name and on style. It’s friendly, familiar and sophisticated—all three, important characteristics of this brand looking to both retain and gain customers as they evolve.