Evolution is a process of change or development. It is when one version of a product is better than the previous one. Just like in everything else, logos have evolved over the years in general and in specific for different companies. It seems that companies find themselves needing to be fast-paced, up-to-date and ever evolving to stay ahead of the competition.

But does a company commit an unpardonable sin by deciding to alter their identity, their mainstay–their logo?

If you think about the world’s most prominent brands, Nike, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and others, it is easy to visualize their respective logos. Those designs have become the visual representation of the company brand, which is what people think about your company and their experiences with it. So, does that mean a logo should never be changed in order to avoid customer alienation and mistrust?

Believe it or not, logo evolution is as common as evolution in any other part of business, but to a lesser degree. Although drastic changes in a logo design can cause alienation and mistrust among existing and potential customers, never changing a logo can also have an adverse effect as well. While a logo update from time to time tells customers that the company is staying up-to-date in its offerings and still knows how to connect with its customers, a logo that never changes can make customers feel like the company is out of touch with its clientele.

Of course, changes should be subtle and keep the same basic design elements so the logo can still be easily associated with the company, product or service. Change should not occur too often either, as this can give an impression of a company without clear vision. There is a delicate balance, but in most cases it is appropriate to prudently alter a company logo from time to time.
You’d probably be surprised to find out just how many companies have made changes to their logo without you even knowing. This is logo evolution. It takes place over decades and the changes are subtle. Here are a couple of examples:


The four letters that make up this company logo have seemingly gone unchanged since the company began. But look at the images on the right. Aside from the company’s first rendition, the logo has changed very little, with most alterations occurring in letter height and boldness.


Nike’s world famous swoosh was designed by Portland State University student Caroline Davidson in 1971. She was paid just $35 for her design (Source: Nike.com), which, even with inflation, is unreal in the graphic design world. The design has undergone very few changes over the years, but there have been definite changes to the logo over the years. Nike also has variations on the logo for its different divisions, like Nike Skate and Nike Soccer.
The evolution of logos only applies to companies that aren’t seeking to reinvent themselves. Businesses that feel they aren’t building relationships with their target markets may need a logo makeover and reposition themselves.

But when updates and alterations are appropriate, be sure the changes needed are understated, gradual and done with the consumer in mind. Companies that update their logos in conjunction with corporate evolution will be building trust and staying fresh in the minds of consumers, as long as the changes are subtle instead of staggering.
When there’s a dire need for change, for a new face, one shouldn’t hang on to the old rugged look as it will just add to the staleness of it all.
As the saying goes: