By now you’ve seen the mid-May rollout of a new look for Instagram. Icons automatically updated themselves on devices and screens, causing worldwide panic and confusion. Immediate and severe feedback filled up the internet like design hate-speech. Instagram released a video to illustrate their process, but soon had to fend off parodies and video rants from designers and whackos alike—many delivered on Instagram’s own platform, criticism so meta it doesn’t need a filter.
As an agency producing visual content on a daily basis, I’m sure the team here has opinions on the new look, but to be honest, we haven’t discussed it. One quick search revealed that the redesign had become a target online. The vitriol surrounding the brand update was surprisingly personal, with commenters presenting their opinion as belief. Others Monday-morning-quarterbacked their own versions: here’s how it should have been done. Maybe that’s a reflection of our political climate in this election year, but I see it as a trend. One that will have a significant impact on our industry.
Probably sounds like sour grapes coming from a designer, after all, we’re all entitled to our unique perspective. I can remember when AIRBNB updated recently.
“That’s…anatomical.” was my response. Still, I didn’t take to the twitterverse with hellfire and damnation. Who knows? Maybe body parts was what they were going for?
By and large, the opinions of anyone who wasn’t directly involved in the process can be written off as an amateur assessment. Someone without an understanding of trends or projections, or knowledge of design theory can certainly pass judgement on something that’s been created, but many times it is simply a reaction, with no consideration.
This public display of rejection as we call it, can make it difficult for an organization or a business to consider a rebrand. Change is tough. Customers are particular, donors fickle. What about the years of established brand equity? As a creative group, we’re careful in our consideration of whether or not an organization needs something new.
The company logo is like your favorite shirt. It’s well-worn, familiar, and you look great in it. Eventually though, that shirt will start to lose its shape. Or it might fall out of style. Trying on something new can be intimidating. It’s a risk, and a process—but a new outfit can mean a big boost in the confidence department.
Here are five examples of recent logo updates by Trampoline that embrace the past, or products represented, and still move forward visually.Paul Smith’s College, in the Adirondacks, wanted to differentiate themselves in the higher-ed space. Collegiate mergers and shutdowns nationwide are evidence of a competitive marketplace where experiences are as important as bookwork. Location, extracurriculars and the feel of a place are elements that factor heavily in 17 year-old decision making—and are shaped by design choices and brand impressions. In the case of PSC (heretofore never referred to as PSC—another update in acceptable representation) their tried-and-true, Times New Roman approach to communication had grown stale, and enrollment reflected a flatline in outreach.
Our approach embraced the iconic leaning pine, and incorporated the surrounding adirondack beauty in a figurative drawing with interplay between positive and negative spaces. The intent was to capture the feeling of a destination, since the campus is located on the site of a historic hotel, owned and operated by Paul and Lydia Smith. The result is a very heroic, American approach to collegiate branding, that makes use of existing imagery in a new way.
High Falls Gorge, in Wilmington, NY has everything a tourist could hope for: natural beauty, the power of nature on display, souvenirs, burgers and beer. As the destination continues to grow, with new offerings every year, it was time for a new logo. Bold type and sharp edges represent the sheer force of these falls and the sharp twists and turns help to position the Gorge as an exciting Adirondack destination.
Our approach to update the appearance was to embrace both the history of the attraction, and the actual physical representation of the falls themselves. The mark opened the door for angular signal art and a family of marks and mascots that created additional offerings for different age groups and interests.
Hudson Headwaters Health Network had handled marketing internally for 33 years before involving an agency in a rebranding effort. The result of a repositioning attempt was that the team at Hudson Headwaters had an emotional attachment to their letter cross. The organization abandoned the chunky Rockwell Bold face for something sleeker, and the team at Trampoline scrubbed-in for an emergency serifectomy.
By removing a single serif in their existing logo, we created a conversation bubble. This type of negative space play can offer a number of options for communication, and create an aha! moment for those interacting with the brand. It’s letting the public in on the joke, a wink and a smile. And, in this case, it offers access and options for healthcare conversations to begin.
Nearly $40 million annually means that a lot of paper was being converted at the Morcon plants in upstate New York and South Carolina. New ownership meant updates in infrastructure, specialized equipment, additional staff and an identity conversion. While the end result is markedly different from the old Morcon look, it stays true to the product in a completely new, but still representative way.
This new identity, with an advance tagline that builds upon the business name, set the tone for sub-brands that create a family of products with a consumer bent. The entire process has influenced sales and how the product is positioned, presented, packaged and photographed.
After 5 years in a very challenging retail market for bricks-and-mortar sellers, Fountain Square Outfitters was ready for an update to their image. Their original mark, set in Friz Quadrata, featured a male hiker in a circle. The proprietors wanted to elevate the FSO look for use in private-label merchandise, and build on their market share as more established retailers like Eastern Mountain Sports were in decline.
The strategy for redesign began with research. After discovering that 70% of their transactions were completed by women, we understood that the consumer wasn’t really represented in the Fountain Square branding, and revised the original male hiker with a female form. Extensions of the FSO update helped segment their marketplace and offerings by activity, and created an interchangeable family of marks that could be used at specific adventure events or help to build partnerships with other retailers like Grey Ghost Bicycles or Rocksport Climbing Gym.
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Are these revised logos better than their originals?
We certainly hope so, that’s the point after all.
Is there a debate to take place? We’ll always debate design, as long as those engaged in the debate are doing so to move things forward.