Once your business is up and running and you want to take your marketing efforts to the next step, a logo is one of the first weapons you look for. Creating a logo that captures your customers’ attention is essential.

And once you have a well-established logo, you need to be very careful regarding how you develop it over time. A logo is the colored, shape-based face of a company. It’s on every piece of collateral people see. If you change the unifying components of a logo too much and lose its essence, your brand’s identity may appear confused.

Old UC logo on the left; Proposed new one on the right.

Here's the "old" UC logo on the left with the proposed new one on the right.

As evidenced, even the best companies miss on logo upgrades. Gap’s logo “facelift” received widespread panning in the papers. Seattle’s Best Coffee’s logo upgrade in 2010 was called, by one reviewer, good “if you’re in the market for cheap floor lamps.” And the London 2012 Olympics logo… well, let’s just say looking at it was like staring into the sun.

Just last month, The University of California scrapped a heavily anticipated logo upgrade after a public backlash that spread from the students all the way to the Lt. Governor of California. The logo was released to the public with massive amounts of press and included a video attempting to visually explain the change (see if you can make sense of it).

Aside from the poor PR campaign accompanying the logo, what went wrong?

BrightBox Creative Director Patrick McDonough explains:

“It’s a disaster from any angle you evaluate it.

Universities are so ingrained with history and tradition – alumni are often more dedicated to their alma maters than their city, state, country, etc. – that you can’t change a logo like that without at least tying back to the historical traditions and feel of the past logo. Even an update of the logo, keeping the same elements, but refreshing it, would need to be done with some care. To totally throw it out, especially for such a weak logo, was a complete failure.

From a design perspective, I see the element of an open book in the logo, but the yellow, fading “swoosh breaks a lot of basic design concepts, and doesn’t really communicate much. It has all the hallmarks of a logo “designed by committee” without any unifying concept or direction. In the end, you get a mess.

To tarnish a proud university with that logo was a mistake. The outcry was justified.”

GRADE: F

Read some of BrightBox’s other logo posts:

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To see logo samples, contact ideas@brightboxonline.com