Posted on September 2, 2013

Evolution of the Logo

By Neale Gilhooley, Evolution Design (updated 6th Jan 15).

A brand once was just that a way of showing property ownership. No matter how small the product of service starts out, the whole point of having a logo is to differentiate your product or service from the rest, so that yours is more recognisable in the customers mind. But not just making it memorable but imbuing it with qualities that make it an easy choice instead of a competitors brand, even if at a premium price because of the perceived brand value created. Interesting logo design facts especially the last stat:

  •  Around 40% of companies just use text in their logos.
  • The most popular logo colour is blue, used by 33% of companies, closely followed by black and red.
  • Only 5% of companies use more than 2 colours
  • 9% do not feature the company name at all.

Potential Clients often ask us to clarify what it is that we design, what they get for their money. They can be unsure of the difference between the design of a logo, a corporate IDentity, a typestyle and a brand.  The answer is more to do with the job that the logo needs to do, how and where the design is to be used, in which mediums, print online etc. And crucially how long should that logo last so both now and in the future. Clients with a deeper understanding of brand value don’t just tick the box and say job done, they need the logo to evolve and retain its relevance and that takes management and keeping an eye on their competitive set.

Logos are designed while Brands are developed, from good logos. The trick is to build an identifiable brand with the logo as its cornerstone, so for consumers the logo then becomes the brand. The brand carries the full message so is much more than a typeface and an icon. A large part of why we buy is down to emotional reasons, why we choose to pay a premium for one product or service of another is often down to the power and success of the brand.  The best brands are well established in our minds, reeking of confidence and superiority or of other qualities that needs to be designed into the logo and used carefully so that each appearance fits with all that the brand stands for. However, it is the whole product experience that builds the brand up in our mind, not just how and where the brand badge appears but the colour palette, the supporting typefaces and as importantly the tone of voice used must reinforce our brand expectations. It is not a happy accident there will be a strategy behind that brand development as part of the companies business plan. The other key word is consistency. Brands can evolve but gradually rather than by shocking and potentially risking alienating existing users. Although Brands are somewhat intangible but they do have real asset value, to see the current value of the worlds most famous brands visit Interbrand 2014 Best-Global-Brands for an exhaustive list and methodology.

JubileeRetroCan-300x17060 years of design evolution on show here, the pack on the left is a replica of an early beans can design from 60 years previous and its evolution into a re-sealable plastic bottle for the fridge, but we recognise it in a second as it carries all of that hard won brand equity over, even using a shrink wrapped label.


Here you can see that the Grow Your Own promotion has overtaken the Heinz branding in size but working with rather than against it. This familiar sauce pack and they even include co-branding for Facebook which quite normal on mobile phone ads but not on packaging for a brand as strong as Heinz. A search on Facebook for Heinz Grow Your Own produces no results. Shame on Heinz they should have known that Facebook’s search is poor.


The images above shows the strength of the Heinz brand, even when de-branded it is still obvious who it is as they retained sufficient familiar clues for you. These packs were created specially for use in the Selfridges store in London, not known for supporting brands in the food area.

new_yahoo_old_yahoo_logo-300x168For information on the first Yahoo! brand development work in 18 years see the links in the comments section below. I hope the 87% of Yahoo employees who voted for change were happy, under fire CEO Marissa Meyer was.  To read their statement and rationale online via their tumblr feed, linked in comments below.
Then just a few days later Bing also changes it’s logo and adds an icon see our earlier blogpost about icons). So here we are both together and which do you prefer, which works best, does it even matter? I cant quite see how moving from a well designed 2 colour logo with a fair chunk of personality – given by the reflective ‘b’ and ‘g’ , albeit in all lower case, to an insipid weak yellow colour and a pretty plain condensed font does not seem to work better. The inclusion of an icon should help (See our article on the value of icons here > Icons & Branding) but in this case it is pretty uninteresting next to the word mark but oddly enough it seems to work better on it’s own and you will frequently see it standing solo on the search site, it does look distinctive and the yellow works in contrast to the more colourful page content  There seems to be quite a gap between the B icon and the letter ‘b’ of bing, or Bing? we never know with all lower case logos (non caps). Usually there is a set spacing and an exclusion zone from any other object but here is seems to be quite large, we will see how it gets used and abused over time.

Google-logo-old-new-300x198And then as if all that change in search engine land was not enough. Google has adapted and used – and sometimes abused its own identity – for years. They also broke the rules of design (and could even have been called Googol) and yet created on of the the most familiar logo in the world. In this case I’ve included a the words old and new beside the logos in case it is not immediately apparent at a glance which way Google are moving towards progress, still searching perhaps. What is apparent is that it is flat and has lost it’s 3D depth, the colours are flat too, it is designed to work better on a mobile screen? It has lost some of its personality and that affects the brand character, now a bit wishy washy and a lot less bold.  If they issue a design statement I will post a link it here.

Interestingly a Brazilian graphic designer Paula Rupolo exchanged the colour schemes of competing brands’ logos. See how striking the results are.

We ask that all Clients treat themselves as brand owners as the basic principles apply to all.  Here are some Q&A’s that frequently crop up. If you want a brand or communications audit for your business or if you have a question please direct it to and you can see examples of our logo design and brand development work at:

Infographic showing step by step logo Evolution; for full sized image click here <

logo-design-evolution-info-208x1024> Q. Is your new logo worth trademarking?

A. If it worth creating then it is worth protecting. We use a specialist trademark attorney and so should you. You may want to protect your brand and also to ensure that you steer away from encroaching on an existing trademark, best done at the earliest stage possible.

> Q. Will my logo last for 1, 2 or 5 years?

A. That depends on the market, the competitors, and how well you have developed it in that time. Ideally the logo should evolve quietly over time so that it is always current contemporary and relevant. Look at the Heinz logo, it remains constant in the mind of the consumer but has actually been changed more than 25 times in the last 100 years, sometimes very subtly. A logo even if not used well ought to have some brand equity which we might be able to retain so we always attempt evolution before revolution especially when it comes to a company logo, their outward facing identity.

Q. Who owns the copyright of my new logo?

A. As creators we own it until we assign that ownership to you, which we do free of charge. Intellectual Property is a hot topic ask any IP Attorney and they will give you hundreds of cases where the IP rights have not been ascertained  often when companies change hands and the assets are being evaluated by Sellers and Buyers.

Q. Which colours are the most successful?

A. There are very few brands that actually dominate a colour and the colour selection is done with a view to differentiating you from competitors and standing out in the market (on shelf, online). It is also to do with enhancing legibility as is it vital that the text used can be read easily. Sounds obvious but I’m sure you have seen examples of very poor legibility, or fancy typefaces depicting very unusual looking words. Most logos are designed around 2 colours and it is the colour palette that we become familiar with and it depends on the industry sector, the company name (some names even suggest colours) and which colours the industry leader already has.

Q. Do I need an icon or will a typeface do just as well.

A. A standard typeface can be used by anyone, adding an icon or illustration will make the logo different and much more memorable (ideally for the right reasons) but it is not essential and must add something to the logo not just be a bolt on.

Q. How long will the customer spend looking at my logo?

A. They probably won’t see the logo in isolation but in use on a business card, website or leaflet which has a headline and images, so they will not study the logo, just take it in along with the other key messages, so support typefaces are often used. If it is a significant change to the look or colour they will notice but if well designed ought to quickly accept and move on quickly. Often when revolution takes place instead of evolution then customers can get upset for a while at least, this shows that the relationship is strong and customers can feel ownership of a brand.

> Q. Do I need a strapline? (aka tagline)

A. If your name needs a descriptor that explains what it is that you do, or offers a brand promise then have one. If you choose 3 vacuous words that mean or offer little then it may just become a distraction or worse a reason for unhappy customers to attack you.

Q. How do I ensure my brand it is used properly by my staff or other suppliers?

A. We can be your brand guardians and create brand usage guidelines and supply all that you need electronically.

Q. How much does a logo cost?

A. That depends on a few factors including; whether it is just basic typography, or it has an illustrated brand icon, also where is it to appear/what is it to be used on, do we need to create a strapline, is there an existing colour palette, have you done your own analysis of your competitive set, amongst other questions that usually come out in during the briefing meeting. Contact us for a free quotation and design proposal.

You can see numerous examples of logo and brand on our website at or feel free to comment below.

Further reading and associated articles:

1. Re-branding rights and wrongs > Evolution versus Revolution – logos, names, hearts and minds

2. Marketing Techblog Logo Evolution post with images of iconic global brands with images as the logo’s develop.

3. Very good article on Evolution and Revolution in logo design, including some good practical examples from the BrandGlue blog see >

3. Infographic courtesy of Glow Internet (Liverpool)

4. This blogpost was turned into an article published by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in their membership magazine Comment and subsequently turned into a 20 minute talk for Chamber members held at the offices of Anderson Strathern.