It’s 2020. Dogs can run for office, Sweden doesn’t exist, and photosynthesis is your new favorite diet. Okay, not quite, but a lot has changed in the past year. Namely, some of the world’s most iconic logos! That’s why we’re taking a look at some of the best logo redesigns of 2019 to help you understand the process behind making a new logo, why they worked, and why they needed an update in the first place.
Let’s get right into it!
Logo Redesign 1: Nordstrom
The mid 2010s saw fashion companies shedding their serifs en masse, in one of the weirdest logo design trends of the decade. In September 2019, Nordstrom finally showed up to the party and, unlike most of its contemporaries, actually came up with a better logo design in the process.
Why it works
Nordstrom took a subtle approach to its new sans serif logo, smoothing things out and sharpening them up at the same time. The end result? A graceful logo that hasn’t deviated too far from the old style. The Os are rounder, the N and M are now razor-sharp, and the additional thickness of the lettering gives 2019’s logo more gravitas than before.
Logo Redesign 2: Lays
Updating a classic logo takes serious guts, and plenty of companies get it wrong from time to time. Lay’s, however, is not one of them.
Why it works
Comparing the before and after shows how the original red banner was slightly skewed, with a distinct upward kink to accommodate the ‘L’. Even this subtle deviation from circularity breaks up the flow of the design.
Putting both logos next to each other makes the old one look clumsy, with the discrete visual elements of text, banner, and ball not quite falling together smoothly.
Too many shadows, shines, and gradients in the old logo made it feel too busy. The new logo’s simple color palette made it way more solid and punchy.
For example, take a look at how the amber circle around the ball links up to the banner’s shadow. Do you see how much coherence and solidity this creates for the logo as a whole? Similarly, look at how reducing the shadow beneath the text paradoxically made it stand out even more.
The takeaway? Design is about the elements you leave out, not just the ones you put in!
Small design choices in the shape of the text have totally unlocked the Lay’s logo’s potential. Before, the tails of the L and the Y seemed to be fighting each other. Now, the eye follows the gestural swoosh of the L, the Y, and the floating apostrophe—which perfectly breaks into the red boundary line. This creates a coherent motion that flows through the whole logo.
Time for a logo redesign? Make a new logo now!
Logo Redesign 3: Duolingo
Duolingo is a science-backed, gamified language platform that rose to prominence in the early 2010s, and taught this writer all the Portuguese he knows. (O leite ferve!) As part of a recent push for a more approachable brand identity, duolingo redesigned its logo in 2019 with a bouncier, friendlier redesign.
Why it works
Compared to the new one, duolingo’s previous logo looked a little hungover. It was faded, washed out, and full of regret. By some freak of science, however, the new logo color somehow manages to be both brighter and deeper at the same time. Ehrmagerd!
Where the old logo was a little static, the new one springs into life, carrying the eye effortlessly thanks to just a few clever curves. Subtle kerning changes also help give the letters more space to breathe, and softened corners have really taken the edge off.
Logo redesign 4: Slack
Slack’s new logo is one of the best logo redesigns of 2019, giving us a great example of how to avoid logo mistakes by taking careful, thoughtful design principles and executing them with confidence.
Discussing the rationale behind the new logo, team Slack shared an invaluable nugget of design wisdom on their blog, which could speak for any logo redesign out there:
Why it works
The original logo’s 11 distinct colors didn’t quite mesh. If you look closely at the old logo, the dark patch in the bottom left corner of the hashtag draws the eye away from the rest of the logo, creating friction in the logo’s visual hierarchy.
The new logo’s thicker text and distilled color set, however, does a great job of harmonizing the visual elements and helps make the logo more fluid and immediate.
One of the main challenges Slack’s old logo faced was how much it changed across different executions, thanks to a few restrictive design elements. The old hashtag looked like a stack of grubby Crayolas, with a precise 18º tilt that made it difficult to reproduce consistently across different mediums.
The redesigned logo, on the other hand, is way more flexible. It retains the most recognizable aspects of the previous version while allowing for more adaptive placement across multiple contexts.
The new logo pays homage to the old, keeping the distinct colors and retaining the metaphor of communication by including subtle speech marks. It also adds a sense of circular motion and cohesion – which is what the teamwork app is all about!
Logo Redesign 5: Skype
In late 2019, Microsoft gave the Skype logo a facelift as part of a wider refresh of the Office 365 suite.
Although a ton of companies have gone for flatter logos in the last few years, Skype followed the likes of Instagram by updating its logo with a gradient style that’s arguably more appropriate to the mobile, touch-centric context you’re most likely to interact with it on.
Why it works
Nowadays, we see with our fingertips. The new logo demands to be touched, thumbed, and swiped, with a tactile quality that reflects the modern user experience.
Establishing levels between the foreground and background circles, while brightening the color and adding gradients, gave the new logo a pressable urgency that leaps out at the user like a joystick.
Logo Redesign 6: Volkswagen
A new logo for the digital age. That was the goal for the 19 internal teams and 17 agencies that worked to create Volkswagen’s new logo (and it only took them 9 months.) When you’re dealing with a brand as colossal as the big VW though, this kind of input makes perfect sense.
Why it works
While it’s not technically a term designers use that much, the new logo is just so damn confident.
Every detail—from the horizontal space between the letters to the curvature of the letter points—gives the new logo a slick, futuristic vibe that makes you want to immediately trade-in your car for a Beetle. Keeping the blue color is also a great touch. It’s dark enough to sit with some weight in most contexts, but still recognizably VW blue.
The lesson? Simple, declarative, shapes, when placed with enough confidence, make for a truly iconic logo.
Logo Redesign 7: Grey Goose
Formerly reserved for ice buckets, sparklers, and insane bar receipts, Grey Goose has put a lot of work into making the big bird of American nightlife more approachable. And the new logo is a flap in the right direction.
Why it works
The logo redesign ‘reads’ much better to the eye. Ironically, making the goose a little less grey helped the logo blend together. And the removal of the white shadowing makes the logo stand on its own.
The overall silhouette of the logo registers beautifully, following a distinct diamond shape from top to bottom.
The old logo slogan was too long. Case in point: “Hello, I’d like a bottle of Grey – World’s Best Tasting Vodka, in our opinion, like, probably it’s the best, although it’s really subjective – Goose, please”.
The new logo slogan, on the other hand, is about as declarative as it gets: “Grey Goose. Vodka.”
Ultimately, 2019’s top logo redesigns centered on companies’ increasing receptiveness to both consumer tastes and the platforms they spend their time on, which is a great lesson for all designers. In a world of excess information, it’s absolutely critical to think about how your logo captures attention.
If you’ve been inspired by these redesigns and want to touch up your own logo, think carefully about the following questions.
- Is this the best version of your logo? Could you try a few different iterations to double-check?
- Does every part of your logo have a reason for being there? Does it add to, or take away from the overall visual harmony of the design?
- Is there enough depth, weight, and clarity to your logo?
- What contexts is your logo most likely to appear in? Is it appropriate to those environments?
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do you like looking at it? If your logo doesn’t make your eyes happy, it probably won’t make anyone else’s. Human beings have a natural ability to detect visual anomalies (and exes). Trust this, and let it guide your design process!
Good luck, and here’s to a new decade of great logo design!