How to Evolve Your Logo Without a Redesign

New year, new logo

Changing a brand’s logo is a drastic decision.

If you’ve built up years of recognition in your sector with a logo, even if you now hate it, it’s a huge leap to change things now.

However, evolving your logo is something you should consider when things get stale, but it demands a light hand unless you’re literally Burger King.

Burger King’s 2021 logo rebrand

Logo updates, not changes

Rather than a redesign, subtle updates every few years can evolve your logo alongside the tone of your growing business.

Geometrical depth, colour shifts and line weight can make enough of a difference to move with the times, probably without your customers consciously noticing.

Logo colours

Colours are (apart from the hellish 90s/00s 3D craze) the number one reason a logo may look dated. It’s amazing how ‘of a time’ colours are in our memories, but it’s also one of the more subtle ways to update your logo.

Rather than a wholesale colour swap, this update is all about shades (base colour with black added – darker) and tones (base colour with grey added – lighter). Adobe Color is a great tool you can use to input your current logo colours and try out tiny shifts to see how you can update your palette.

Isolating elements of your logo for new uses

In 2021, Harrods relaunched its chocolate range using just the H of its logo (although with the full logo also in evidence). I’d argue that even without the rest of the brand name, that H is one of the most recognisible letters in the world.

Harrod’s chocolate rebrand by Smith&+Village

Even though the shape and weight of the letter hasn’t changed at all in the chocolate branding, its isolation gives it a modern feel. It reminds you that any lettering is just…lines, so it takes on a more artistic, sketchy vibe.

Something so recognisible can have a new life simply by giving it different context, which means you can use elements of your logo to introduce new products or branches of your business. It keeps them tied firmly to your overall brand, while giving a fresh vibe.

Isolation or macro viewing of the familiar has been used in art forever to give a new perspective on an object. To evolve your logo, try isolating different elements to see what stands out to you. It doesn’t have to be a logomark or even a letter – it could be a shape created between letters or the unique tittle (dot of an i or j) within the logo’s typeface. It’s in the same family, but it’s its own person.

2021 was the year of brands streamlining logos: making type more pictorial, stacking logomarks with text, flattening shading, ditching container shapes and getting rid of flourishes. We’d just experienced one of the most unsettling years in living memory, so it makes sense that everyone was keen for some simplicity.

Volvo’s new, simpler logo

2022, everyone’s so over this whole pandemic thing. Even in the midst of rocketing case numbers, it feels like people are longing for fun and celebration. (Good luck.)

More brands have been embracing non-traditional colour choices for their sectors, and I think playful colour combinations and treatments will gain popularity. If you do want to evolve your logo, you could try bringing in another colour from your brand palette to see how it feels. Just don’t change too much too soon.

Animation has risen in popularity over the pandemic as live action and photography were less achievable, and I think it will continue to be used in different areas as it loses its MySpace GIF/Microsoft Wordart vibe. Subtle animations like glow can give your logo a lift on your website, without changing the logo itself.

And that’s the key here: subtle tweaks that update your logo for another couple of years.

If you’re in the market for some logo inspiration, try this very fun logo generator from Looka. It’ll give you lots of logo ideas from a few inputs. Some are bad, some are good. Go nuts!