The Ever-Changing Landscape of Logos
Jul 5, 2016
Don’t call it a rebranding. And don’t worry, the logo is here to stay. But earlier in the week, Netflix introduced a new icon that, according to a company statement, “…will start to be incorporated into our mobile apps along with other product integrations in the near future.”
The fact that they had to explain this move – explain the new icon and reassure everyone that their logo is here to stay – is interesting.
“When we talk of iconic logos and brands that have ‘done it right,’ we think of brands such as Nike, IBM, McDonald’s. Well, they all evolved – we may not all remember it, but they eventually got to a spot where they landed in that magical Zen state of brand recognition and simplicity.”
In the midst of the adoption of the new icon, Shawn Gillen, executive creative director at Centerline, considered the evolution of iconic brand logos.
“All of this being said, a logo is only as important as what it stands for, right? Coca-Cola’s logo is far from modern, far from working great as an app icon, but, man, we are talking about one of the highest valued brands in the world!”
It seems like every phone update comes with a host of new app icons – new colors, new images, further simplification. And with the logo updates comes a storm of tweets dissecting the design decision, users questioning the new look, everyone offering opinions – sometimes complimentary, mostly not.
Can’t remember the first Netflix app icon? Wired‘s “State of Logo Design” infographic shows the evolution of top brands logos over the years, including Twitter, Instagram and, yes, Netflix.
“I wonder if it’s time to explore whether we’ve reached a different era of what a logo represents, and how people feel about it,” asks John Lane, chief strategy officer at Centerline.
“Just off the top of my head, ‘people’ have lost their minds over logo redesigns for JCPenney, The Gap, American Airlines, Airbnb, Uber, Instagram and now Netflix. And I would wager that not a single one of those changes – or the outcry – has had any effect on the bottom line.”
Lane poses a different question.
“Will there ever be another transcendent logo, in the way of Nike, McDonald’s, or Coke? Have we reached a time in which a logo signifies only rapid recognition on a smartphone screen?”
What do you think of the new “N” icon?
Zoppo: As much as I love tall and condensed fonts, it doesn’t seem to work for Netflix in this case. It’s too far removed from their past iterations – I can easily see growing pains for the next 6 months from people not being able to find the app on their phone or in the app store because of how different it looks.
Kristen: Out of context, I wouldn’t associate it with Netflix at all…it seems too disjointed from the primary brand elements that users are accustomed to.
How do you interpret the evolution of the logos in Wired’s infographic?
Kristen: There was a time when brand creators didn’t have to worry about how their logos would look inside of a tiny, rounded-rectangle box on the home screen of a smartphone — brand logos seem to be evolving to meet that need. Maximum brand recognition – using the fewest pixels possible – seems to be the ultimate goal.
Zoppo: Most of the logos are shifting from a skeuomorphism style to a much more flat, simplistic appearance. Mainly, we see an elimination of colored gradients and shiny/sleek styles to more flat design.
Any other thoughts?
Zoppo: When the Nike logo first came out, it wasn’t seen as the iconic, awesome piece of branding it is today. The brand had to be built over a long period of time before the logo came to be seen as what it is today.
Kristen: If a brand manages to be instantly recognizable with a very simple visual it’s an impressive feat. Think of all the brands that share the same colors, fonts, and even similar imagery. There may be hundreds of brands whose main colors are red and yellow, but if the majority of people associate those colors with McDonald’s it says something about the power of that brand. The same goes for basic shapes used in company logos.
Hate the icon? Love the icon? Think users are going to experience brand confusion? Holler at us on Twitter.