Your Brand – Not Your Logo – Builds the Business

A lot of discussion has been going on recently about Best Buy’s and Pepsi’s decisions to try out a new ‘look.’  Whether or not the failing economy has anything to do with it, the fact of the matter is that it seems that both companies are simply missing the point completely.

Pepsi Changes Its Logo

Yes, a logo design change is necessary sometimes.  My company went through the same thing last year, when our original logo was deemed ‘amateur’ and we realized the difficulties in scaling the image in different environments because it was simply too detailed (and don’t even get me started on how it looked on polo shirts).  Our new logo is much simpler, more linear, and cleaner, and it fit in well with the repositioning of our brand on the marketplace.

But that’s just it.  The logo redesign was but a minor part of the overall brand overhaul.  The latter in itself is a difficult task to achieve, and a dangerous one at that, but that’s not the point of this post.  I’m trying here to reaffirm the notion, so often debated by marketing experts, that changing one’s logo rarely impacts a brand and thus rarely helps with market share.

Pepsi has redesigned its logo many times over the years, certainly many more times than Coca-Cola, its primary competitor.  Why?  According to Beverage Digest, Chief Marketing Officer Dave Burwick reportedly said, “If we don’t change quickly, we run the risk of being a footnote to history.” Hold the phone – a chief marketing officer of a major multinational corporation said that?  And yet Pepsi’s market share has dramatically fallen over the years.  Perhaps it would behoove to follow marketing guru Seth Godin’s advice:

Take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.

Seth has it right: brand reputation is what makes a company money, not a snazzy logo.  Especially when you change the apparent name of one of your products to MtnDew, which, by the way, just looks idiotic anyway.  Given how many times Pepsi has changed its logo (and undoubtedly spent thousands on rebranding – physically – their products), and how Coca-Cola continues to dominate the marketplace without straying much from its original design, something about Pepsi’s logic just isn’t clicking.

By focusing on the consumer experience, your brand improves its reputation and economic status.  With that comes a warm fuzzy when a pleased consumer sees your logo.

Best Buy Changes Its Logo

Best Buy is taking the same route as Pepsi.  First of all, it is removing what is a very memorable graphic element to create a more mature look.  Gone are the big bold capital letters, gone is the solid yellow price tag.  In its place are some thin, rounded letters with capitals in the proper places.  They’re testing it out at the Mall of America right now.

But what’s been happening to Best Buy’s brand?  I’m assuming sales have dropped since the advent of online shopping; one can find items, often cheaper, in many more places, from Amazon to Craigslist to eBay.  And a veritable army of angry customers has formed due to Best Buy’s careless attitude about customer service. has a thriving community of folks who aren’t hesitating to share their stories about purchases gone horribly awry; in February, the company was sued for $54 million dollars after it lost a customer’s laptop … and didn’t do anything about it.  To be honest, I’m not completely content with Best Buy at the moment either after I ordered an item online for pickup, only to be told when I went to pick it up (after receiving an email from Best Buy that my item was ready) that, oops, the item wasn’t actually there, and that I could cancel the order if I wanted to.  Yes, apparently that was my only option.  Thanks, guys.  Real helpful.

Solid products, excellent customer service, and a dedication to success will get you the green.  Lacking all of those but having a snazzy logo won’t.  Your company’s story is what makes the logo work, not the other way around.  And it does bother me when I see marketers change their company’s logo on a dime because it seems like a ‘quick fix’ for their problems.

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Categories: Branding and Design

3 Comments so far:

  1. Great post. (Thanks for the trackback.)

    Another good reason to change the logo: A complete branding overhaul, like the one executed by FGP (Find Great People) a few years ago. The result: A great new name, an energized image, and a fresh new logo to go with it all.

    FGP may very well be the exception that confirms the rule, but when it comes emergency rebranding interventions, it is the standard as far as I can tell. Super well executed.

  2. Ingrid,
    This is such a FABULOUS post! It hits all of my “pet” high points about logos, branding, and how they work together. I blog for the Queensboro Shirt Company, and I try to provide our customers with lots of great information about their logo, branding and business.

    Two things in your post really stood out to me-first of all, a simple, yet attention grabbing and communicative logo. (I loved the part about your logo on polo shirts! I write until I’m blue in the fingers about that. You want a logo to start the conversation or jog people’s memory. It doesn’t have to tell your entire company story!)

    Additionally, your mention that your brand reputation is one of the most important parts of your business strategy, not your logo. You need a good logo, but your products and services are what people will think about when they see your logo. You need to make sure that they are thinking happy thoughts when they see your logo!

    There seem to be a bunch of e-newsletters going around about “The Death of Branding.” I think you hit the nail on the head. Marketers that rely on their logo alone to speak for their brand are going to be out of luck. The rise of the social media makes word-of-mouth reputation even more important. Companies will have to reach deeper and be more persistent about quality service to differentiate themselves, and gain brand recognition.

    Thank you for such a great post!

  3. Abigail says:

    So many redesigns are corrections of amateurish shortcomings (lack of flexibility in an increasingly flexible world), the result of successful companies growing beyond their roots. I agree wholeheartedly that the opportunity to update your look needs to be taken as an opportunity of a larger effort to update your APPROACH. Great post.