If you’ve ever gotten sucked into the vortex of TV shows on the
History Channel, then you’ve probably seen or at least heard about the show “American Pickers.” Basically, two guys travel around the country in their van and go through old barns, basements and buildings to look for anything they can resell to make a few bucks.
Amongst all the stuff they “pick,” some of the most valuable items they look for are old signs with companies’ logos. It’s fascinating what people will pay for an old Ford, Standard Oil or Falstaff beer sign, and it is really a great illustration of how effective logos instill feelings of value, trust and nostalgia in consumers.
It can be agonizing to choose a logo when you first start your business and then equally excruciating when you start thinking about updating it as your company grows. You continually have thoughts about whether your logo is too outdated or too stale or whether it’s even helping your business.
So, when is the right time to update your logo? The following are a few good reasons to update your logo:
•Your logo is hard to reproduce – Does it cost you a fortune to print a T-shirt because your logo has 10 colors on it?
•You are expanding into new categories – If your restaurant has an image of a lobster and you now offer pizza and steaks, your logo is confusing.
•You are expanding geographically – Your logo may be the symbol for the filthiest word in the Indonesian language and you are expanding to Asia. It’s time to change it.
•Your logo is outdated – For some categories, this doesn’t matter, but for technologically savvy businesses, it is important to project that you are current.
•Two companies have merged – See Anheuser-Busch InBev.
•Your logo is poorly visualized – When you were broke and started your company, you had your brother’s kid design something cute during study hall.
Updating your logo is an important decision, as your logo is a visual representation of your company and what your company does, and if done correctly, it will give your customers an immediate sense of trust and familiarity. Not only do you risk losing those emotions when you make a change, but it can also be very costly.
Another word of caution: if your logo is universally known in your industry, like Coke’s, Ford’s, GE’s, Nike’s or IBM’s, then don’t change a thing.
So ask yourself, “Does my company’s logo have 50 colors, any foreign curse words, negative religious connotations, outdated imagery, an extremely complex design, a design that makes no sense for the business, or a paint-by-numbers look?” If not, then maybe your logo is just fine.
Ryan McMullen (email@example.com) is a founding partner of St. Louis-based digital marketing and public relations agency Elasticity.