The Best Rebrands of 2020

These companies are going into 2021 looking better than ever

Hand holding a smartphone displaying Google logo.
Hand holding a smartphone displaying Google logo.

2020 has been a minefield of political turmoil, racial injustice, and viral diseases. Definitely not one of the best reflections of civilization.

With that in mind, I want to first acknowledge and send love to any family who has lost someone during these times. Whether that be from Covid-19 or another cause. I hope that in the new year we can turn a corner for the better.

In the midst of a global pandemic, many businesses have closed their doors for good while others were lucky enough to spend money on rebranding.

In the first edition of this series, The Best Rebrands of 2019, we took a look at companies spanning multiple industries. Although last year was a completely different landscape, the factors that led a company to make a change in their look or business model remain the same:

  • Outdated imagery
  • Poor reputation
  • Business mergers
  • Changes to the market
  • Misalignment of values

A rebrand is the first step in a process to address some or all of these issues. In the article, The Complete Guide to Rebranding — And When You Should, we go in-depth into what strategies successful brands take when doing a rebrand.

Let’s see which companies implemented some of those strategies this year and breakdown the success or failure of their rebrand.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Spinning Adobe Creative Cloud logo with brand name underneath.
Spinning Adobe Creative Cloud logo with brand name underneath.

If you work in photography, design, video, web, or UX, then Adobe’s Creative Cloud is nothing new to you. The collection offers over 20 desktop and mobile apps to stimulate your creative palette.

With so many applications it can be difficult to keep them within the same “family.” Adobe Photoshop does one thing, while Adobe XD does another. With additions like Adobe Dimension and Adobe Aero, there needed to be more connection between the products than simply adding “Adobe” to the front of each name.

Old two-toned Adobe Creative Cloud logo on the left, with colorful updated version on the right.
Old two-toned Adobe Creative Cloud logo on the left, with colorful updated version on the right.

To unify all of these apps, the Adobe Creative Cloud logo was revamped. Once a solid red and white design now has incorporated a colorful rainbow display to bring them under one umbrella.

“The new Creative Cloud logo brings the colors of our product brands and our new corporate red together into one beautiful gradient that represents the importance of creativity.”

— Sonja Hernandez, Adobe Brand and Icons Design Team

Albeit the design community, in general, had a lackluster reaction towards the new design, I believe Adobe is moving in the right direction. They have done well to position themselves as a leading brand for amateur and professional creatives. There is so much you can do in one subscription! Adding more colors helps to drive that point home.

Colorful icons representing programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.
Colorful icons representing programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

As Adobe continues to roll out updates to its software, each individual program received a slight tweak to its icon design. As I mentioned, there are over 20 different programs to choose from. How do you make each stand out on its own and not create confusion amongst users?

Years prior, Adobe updated its suite to single colors and a two-letter mnemonic system across its programs. For example, “Ai” represents Adobe Illustrator. In an effort to simplify the brand, each program now has rounded corners to adapt to the range of operating systems and devices the products are used on. The border is being removed as well for the same reason.

Animated Adobe Photoshop logo.
Animated Adobe Photoshop logo.

Whether you love or hate the new wave of designs, it’s safe to say Adobe is moving into an area that is more welcoming of the various creative skills. The old red and white logo for Adobe Creative Cloud gave a more button-up and authoritative image. The updated colorful design brings professionalism with a greater sense of freedom that all creatives desire.

GoDaddy

Still from a commercial, featuring a woman with cropped tank top with GoDaddy logo, surrounded by men in a courtroom setting.
Still from a commercial, featuring a woman with cropped tank top with GoDaddy logo, surrounded by men in a courtroom setting.

Whether known as the go-to for registering a domain name or for its sketchy early 2000s Superbowl Ads, GoDaddy has given itself a much-needed fix.

The original mascot “Daddy,” a green-shades-wearing guy from their “sex sells” phase, was thankfully dropped. Let’s face it, the GoDaddy commercials were problematic back then and certainly are now. They essentially tried to make web hosting “hot.” You’re probably cringing a little and for good reason.

In an era where the Vice President of the United States is a woman — shoutout to Vice President Kamala Harris! — a brand like that isn’t going to survive.

Old GoDaddy logo with cartoon man’s face on the left and new graphic logo on the right.
Old GoDaddy logo with cartoon man’s face on the left and new graphic logo on the right.

A change was long overdue. The new logo came with a new homepage, icon, and messaging. GoDaddy updated its look to appeal to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Although this marketing is new for the company, competition within the space is fierce. Hosting services like Squarespace, Wix, and Webflow began their company with a clear position from the inception.

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Despite being tough to see at a glance, the new, heart-shaped “GO” logo is a step up from the orange-haired “Daddy” of the 90s. The ‘G’ and ‘O’ are interlocking to form a heart-like shape.

“Our new logo, the GO, is all about empowering you — the everyday entrepreneur — to do what you love. Go after your dreams and make ’em real, knowing we’re here to help every step of the way.”

— GoDaddy Twitter @godaddy

This minimalist style is not something unseen in big brands of recent years. Airbnb and Sears presented a similar aesthetic. Nonetheless, GoDaddy is taking its first steps to shed that risque past identity.

Animation with three hands creating a webpage on the left and another with a stylized computer screen.
Animation with three hands creating a webpage on the left and another with a stylized computer screen.

Another big shift in its brand is the use of 3D animations. Again, nothing new in the space of company presentation but a step up for the company.

We have to remember that GoDaddy started in 1997! It only recently began to revamp its imagery. This overhaul is the equivalent of updating from Apple’s ’97 PowerBook to 2020’s MacBook Air. There’s a lot to catch up on.

Kudos to GoDaddy for joining the 21st century. GoDaddy is trying to make up for the lost time and a bunch of bad decisions. My only critique of the rebrand is a lack of cohesiveness and consistency.

Entrepreneurship is “cool” and they want to capitalize on the market. I understand it, but the heart-shaped icon, wordmark, illustrations, and 3D animations don’t seem to belong to the same company. They feel like some of the best parts taken from other places.

Fisher-Price

New Fisher-Price logo.
New Fisher-Price logo.

The Fisher-Price “rebrand” is more of a brand identity refresh and I love it! The team at Pentagram spearheaded this and many of my other favorite rebrands over the years: Warner Bros., Slack, Master Card, and Yahoo.

They always seem to capture the essence of the brand while revitalizing it into a timeless state. Needless to say, Pentagram has done it again with the new Fisher-Price brand look.

“The branding refines the iconic Fisher-Price identity and expands it to a customized kit of parts that offers flexibility for a variety of contexts. “

Emily Oberman, Pentagram Design Head

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The toy brand has been a part of not only my childhood but my parents’ as well. On the surface, it may seem that Fisher-Price makes toys for children. Toddlers and preschoolers are often their users.

However, babies don’t buy toys or know the difference between brands. Their parents do. Babies are too early in their development to experience a sense of nostalgia. That feeling is strictly reserved for the parents. Fisher-Price is a trusted name in the space because parents recognize the brand from their own childhood.

When your customers are across generations, a refresh can be more useful than a total rebrand.

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The new Fisher-Price logo reaffirms its position in the market. The changes are not noticeable at first glance. A subtle reworking of the semicircles represents the company’s three founders (Herman Fisher, Irving Price, and Helen Schelle).

A switch from uppercase to lowercase lettering reinforces a childlike experience. The hyphen between “Fisher” and “Price” is now a half-circle that looks like a smile. These small changes do more to tell the brand story.

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Pentagram dove deep on this one. Researching through the Fisher-Price archives, the team found the original proprietary typeface that was consistently used in its advertising and packaging. Based on the original Windsor typeface, Pentagram developed a custom typeface called “Let’s Be Glyphs” for the brand.

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A refreshed logo, bright animations, and custom typeface draw on the brand’s heritage, as well as its messaging and products. When combined they refine the attributes children and parents associate with Fisher-Price: fun, play, childhood, whimsy, and joy.

Google Workspace

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Now for the most hot-button topic of 2020: the new Google Workspace icons. Google Workspace is a redesigned version of the Google G Suite apps, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.

People were upset, to say the least.

The new icons take inspiration from Google’s four-color aesthetic and are a minimal version of the existing ones. In no time, outrage ensued over the updated look.

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For my personal preference, I choose the minimalist approach to my designs every time. However, if we are looking at it from a user perspective then I believe this is where the upset happened.

Singularly, each icon is great! They are simple, colorful and a new take on their individual predecessors. The issue users are finding is that when the apps are grouped together in tabs or the home screen, they blend together.

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Despite the general consensus amongst Twitter, I fundamentally approve of Google’s icon evolution. The previous iterations seemed like distant cousins in their design.

“Our new Google Workspace brand reflects this more connected, helpful, and flexible experience, and our icons will reflect the same.”

— Google Workspace, Twitter @googleworkspace

Google Workspace is attempting to create an even more seamless experience of using their tools together, with new functionality allowing users to work across multiple apps without needing to change tabs.

Key Takeaways for Your Rebrand

Rebrands always run the risk of receiving a mix of positive and negative reactions. Not everyone adjusts to change right away. Companies have to determine whether to hold fast or reevaluate that change.

Keep in mind that when you do a rebrand, the goal is in representing your company’s image and message in the best way possible. Ultimately, a rebrand can be an intensive process, so be deliberate about the why and the how of going about it before jumping in.

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