When did logos become everyone’s priority?

As a graphic design student it’s clear that logo (identity, branding) design is a huge aspect of a successful business, and one that is treated with high importance by designers and clients alike.

There are many legendary brands that are identified by their logos – even internationally, across language and cultural barriers. However today, more and more companies are trying to “engage” with their customers through social media and taking a chance at modifying their image. Some of them, even giant powerful corporations, feel that they can test out major changes (like a logo re-design) online.

There have been intense results even in the public sector, including University  of Waterloo’s logo re-design which was leaked before being explained to the institution and student body.

With the 2010 GAP logo controversy, where the company one day replaced their classic iconic logo on their US website, a huge can of worms were opened for consumers and of course other brands. While GAP reverted back to their original logo after “social media backlash“, they received harsh criticisms and lost respect from many in the design community. Regardless of their alleged “crowd-sourcing” methods, the point is that everyday people are paying more and more attention to branding than ever before.

Recently, some major brands including Starbucks modified their logos. But was it necessary, or were they tempted to try what others like GAP did? Perhaps consumers are getting overly involved in the design process, due to the outcry and intense participation in this area – or more likely, they’re doing exactly what the brand wants them to do.

Maybe brands are doing this for media attention? To gain loyal followers? For some excitement around the office? To burn cash on reprinting every single letterhead, business card, sign, label, t-shirt and re-painting every truck and store?

Many times, rebranding is absolutely necessary and comes as an inspiring breath of fresh air. In the cases below, however, how vital were the changes? And more significantly, were the changes even for the better?