Our love-hate relationship with logos

I can’t count the number of times clients have brought up the issue of changing their company logo.  They always ask my opinion and I always ask them why they want to change it.  The answers are often the same.”We’re just tired of it.”

“Then,” I say, “if that’s the reason you want to change your logo, my counsel is to leave it alone.”

Changing an organizational logo is usually a long, painful and often costly undertaking.  This is because logos are graphic symbols and there are no “right” or “wrong” logos.  Different designs mean different things to different people, so creating the perfect logo is a difficult process.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story about the logo change initiated by the University of California system and the backlash it is causing.  Students and alumni are fighting back online, making fun of the new design, and more importantly, bemoaning the fact that UC is messing with something that stands for tradition.

The powers that be at UC say they want something more forward-thinking and contemporary and came up with this (see below) at the right of the “old” logo.  But messing with tradition is risky business and it seems to this marketer at least that the UC people have too much time on their hands.

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to apply perfectly to this situation.  Universities are not bottled soda or automobiles that have to be branded with contemporary design.  There is something about stability, tradition and longevity that is comforting, especially if you attend one of the best-known universities in the country.  (Full disclosure: my son attends UCLA, but hasn’t mentioned the logo.)

There are sound reasons to change a logo but being tired of your old logo isn’t one of them.  The best reason is if your organization has changed to the point that your logo no longer accurately represents what you do.  Along with this would be, of course, a name change itself.

Take a look at how students, alumni and others have reacted to the UC logo debacle:


UC logo