5 Brand Logo Redesigns That Pissed People Off

What were they thinking?

Some logo redesigns don't go over so well. Yuliya Kim
Headshot of Alissa Fleck

Burberry recently released its first wordmark redesign in two decades, from famed British designer Peter Saville, and the general reaction was … less than enthusiastic.

Upon the new logo’s unveiling, Riccardo Tisci, CCO at Burberry, praised Saville on the brand’s Instagram, calling him “one of our generation’s greatest design geniuses.” The fashion press appeared onboard with this bold assertion, but the general public pulled no punches, with at least one commenter claiming the four-week redesign appeared to have been done in Microsoft Word.

I get it—redesigning a logo is an uphill battle. It’s hard. But who knew it was this hard? I took a look at other instances over the years when logo redesigns didn’t go over as planned.

Life is Good

The New England-based retailer, founded by two brothers and known for its positive affirmations, deployed this unfortunate logo redesign in 2015.

The Brand New blog noted that, “changing the logo from that quirky typography to something much more normal seems like a very risky move since what makes [this brand] so recognizable is that goopy type.”  The author also speculated that perhaps now-adults who grew up with Life is Good no longer wanted to sport the original design’s “child-like graphics.”

Maturing the brand along with its base may not have had the intended effect—suddenly, it seemed everything the brand stood for—a fun, carefree outlook on life; a charitable mission—had been reduced to an ugly yellow blob of hopelessness, that had people saying, “Life is good, but this logo is not.” Better child-like than boring.

Gap

Sometimes a brand should simply stick to what it knows best. Gap is known by its customers for basic, dependable designs—not groundbreaking fashion statements. Someone should perhaps have relayed this fact to the designer tasked with Gap’s unsuccessful 2010 rebranding. Customers turn to Gap because they know what they’re going to get, which is perhaps why this stab at creativity was met with outrage.

According to the BBC, the online backlash was so severe that after less than one week the logo was  “consigned to the graveyard inhabited by rejected arrows, squiggles and inadvertently offensive corporate emblems.” The old logo was promptly restored and Gap’s tale went down in history as a caution to other brands.

Seattle’s Best Coffee

A logo that advertises food or beverages should look, well, appetizing. This tough-on-the-eyes Seattle’s Best redesign from 2010 looks like an advert for a blood drive. Which is fine if you’re a vampire. But somehow I have a feeling that’s not the company’s dominant customer base.

Opponents of Seattle’s Best rendering in the design world called it “too clinical” and the Seattle Weekly called it a “cross between Target and the Red Cross.”  Critics said the coffee brand’s previous logo had a nostalgic, vintage feel that consumers cherished, while the new design was too generic to invoke fond memories, and could have been advertising pretty much anything.

Pepsi

In 2009, Pepsi allegedly paid $1 million to have its time-honored logo turned 45 degrees. The Arnell Group, which was responsible for this metamorphosis, said in a statement: “The vocabulary of truth and simplicity is a reoccurring phenomena in the brand’s history. It communicates the brand in a timeless manner and with an expression of clarity. Pepsi BREATHTAKING builds on this knowledge. True innovation always begins by investigating the historic path. Going back-to-the-roots moves the brand forward as it changes the trajectory of the future.”

Critics said the new design bore a striking resemblance to a fat little balloon man. 

London Olympics

This one doesn’t exactly fit with the retailer trend, but I would have been remiss to leave it out. You could say the Wolff Olins-designed logo for the London 2012 Olympics was met with … some controversy. As with many of these designs, the agency had a very in-depth, technical explanation for its inspiration. Unfortunately, something was lost in the execution.

Some critics took issue with the fact that the logo did not reflect any of the city’s renowned landmarks, while others said it looked like a swastika. Oof.

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@AlissaFleck Alissa Fleck is a New York City-based reporter, podcast producer and contributor to Adweek.
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