So, we redesigned our logo recently! We’d had the old one for a while, nobody at the company really knew much about it’s lineage — we’re pretty sure it was from one of those $10 logo websites — and nobody really loved it or felt especially attached to it. But as the saying goes, we were too busy chopping wood to sharpen our axe. So we decided to change it. It possibly wasn’t the prefect time to do it (when is?) but we decided it was something we could improve on so decided to tackle it internally as a bit of a ‘side project’.
This post isn’t about what inspired the logo, what it means, or a list of obvious pointers like “Hey! Make sure it looks good on an app icon!”. It’s not even about the process we used, because that’s been covered numerous times on Medium.
This is a list of things we noticed through a ‘product’ lens. Some interesting stuff we experienced. Some of the 🤦♀ “Oh-God-why-did-nobody-think-of-that” takeouts. Hopefully you’ll find some of it useful!
1. All designers love drawing logos.
The ‘design’ role has become increasingly fragmented over the last few years — you might fall under UX, UI, product, interaction, marketing... But we all have one thing in common — none of us can resist getting involved in a logo redesign. I’m not sure exactly why, but it’s just an incredibly gratifying task for a designer. It nice to get back to basics a bit and not have to worry about edge cases, error states, that kind of thing. Just spending time re-crafting and simplifying our logo. We were initially worried about convincing some designers to invest time ‘on the side’ to help out. We really didn’t need to.
2. Those $10 logo companies aren’t the devil.
They’re a really great way for a company to get an MVP out without spending a load of money. I’d compare them to using Squarespace if you can’t write code. But your logo should evolve in the same way as the rest of your service. Having a really nice iOS app with a cheap logo feels jarring. It’s like having furry dice on a Bentley.
3. If you’re currently coming up with an idea for a business, think carefully about your name.
Changing your logo is surprisingly straightforward. Changing your name isn’t. It touches pretty much every aspect of a business — from public facing material, right through to things like payroll. Once an idea starts to snowball and a business begins to grow, it can become pretty much impossible to change. Also, pick one that doesn’t hamstring you. Startups with made-up words as names do catch some flack, but it allows them to change what they do without having to worry too much. Although it never seemed to bother Carphone Warehouse.
4. If you haven’t picked a name yet, considering choosing a short one.
Having one that gets truncated under an app icon is… quite annoying. We also noticed character limits in things like Twilio’s SMS service. 11–12 characters seems to be a common cap so worth bearing in mind. We toyed with the idea of adopting an abbreviation, but accepted that’s probably only a good look for truly ‘household name’ brands and not something that’d work for us currently.
5. Involve a wide range of people from the business during ideation.
Rather than getting the design team to do it in isolation, we set up a ‘brand guild’ which included designers, marketeers, HR people, doctors and users. We all got quite excited about the project and (possibly subconsciously) dissipated that enthusiasm into our respective teams within the business. Before we’d even unveiled it, we felt like everyone was already on board. The added benefit of getting a much broader range of creative input also goes without saying.
6. It’ll take a while to update it everywhere.
But it’s less painful than you think, and it doesn’t look bad if people continue to see the old logo for a bit. Tackle one thing at a time, take your time, and make it look sweet. Just let everyone know beforehand that the change is not going to happen overnight. A few palms were greased to get things bumped up a few spots in Jira, but the engagement we’d garnered in point 5. really helped with this. Having invested a reasonable amount of time in design system documentation also helped — it made it very easy to pinpoint exactly where instances of the old logo existed and get them switched out relatively painlessly.
7. Keep a list of all of your social media passwords somewhere like LastPass.
Seriously — go and do it now and share with the team. Not only does this mean you’ll not lose access to your YouTube channel (forever 😫), but also that team members will feel empowered to log in to the company LinkedIn page and give it a freshen-up whenever they feel like it needs one.
8. There’s never a good time to do it.
But the longer you leave it, the more painful it’ll become.
9. Get your CEO involved.
We’ve grown a lot over the last few years and have probably long cast off the ‘startup’ tag. But our CEO made the time to come along to brainstorming sessions, chat on the dedicated Slack group, and just generally be involved. It wasn’t until I read an interview with James Greenfield of Koto that I realised we’d taken that for granted.
“In the past we would have worked with the Marketing team in most cases. We now work with a lot of CEOs and Founders who realise their time is well spent on branding and making sure they stand out in very crowded markets.”
In years gone by, that definitely wasn’t the norm. Come to think of it, I’ve worked for companies where I’ve never even been in the same room as the CEO, let alone sat in one brainstorming logo ideas together. If you’re able to, get them involved as it pays dividends. If they don’t think it’s important, take the time to convince them otherwise.
10. A new logo really gives things a lift (IMHO).
We aren’t redesigning the product (yet…🤫) but simply changing the logo feels like we’ve got a new ornament on the mantelpiece.