Large corporations and deep consumer brands often have many logo changes over their numerous years in existence. They evolve over time with the company or product changes.

Cotter Visual Synergist

JCPenney Rebranding Fails

JCPenney’s logo, updated in January 2012, will be replaced by its prior logo, along with a new CEO. The 2012 logo was the third in three years. A telltale sign of brand confusion!

The 2012 rebrand involved a new pricing strategy, called “Fair and Square Pricing,” in which there would be everyday prices; month-long values; and “best prices” on the first and third Fridays of every month. The logo was meant to play off the “fair and square” theme (notice the square).

The logos in the image at left show the evolution of its visual brand.

Ron Johnson, the newly ousted CEO, had shortened the company’s name to ‘jcp’ in an attempt to rebrand. Consumer research showed overwhelming support for the prior logo before ‘jcp’.

The rebranding coincided with last year’s loss of nearly $1 billion for the company. Executives are hoping that the return of the former familiar logo will also encourage the return of shoppers.

Stephen Sadove, currently CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue, will join JCPenney after Saks Fifth Avenue’s pending merger with Hudson’s Bay.

How often do companies go through a rebranding when a new CEO steps in? Each CEO sets themselves up to make their mark and rebrand the company as their own. But if you notice, it is often the struggling companies that look to rebranding as part of the answer to their overall strategy.

Cotter Visual Synergist

A Visual Brand Reveals The Company History

In 3M’s 111-year history, they have had 32 logo designs. Any graphic designer would be intrigued by this. Ultimately, their logo changes weigh-in at a hefty average of every 3.7 years! The most recent iteration in 1978, 35 years ago, is the time-tested winner as being the longest used and is still in existence today.

It is interesting that when I review how company logos evolve, redesigns are typically uniquely different. It is difficult to imagine a company today having 4 official versions of their logo established in any one single year, but not over 50 years ago. These were the wild frontier days of branding – remininscent of branding cattle.

Let’s take a closer look at 3M over the years

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Aetna’s New Trendy Logo

Aetna has a new logo – the 12th logo in the company’s 157-year history. This is part of their new brand’s “passion for helping people make confident choices and celebrate the equity and tradition of the Aetna name.”

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Beer Brand Visual Identity Evolves

Heineken is not only a great consumer brand but a corporate overseer of more than 250 beer and cider brands. In this age of brand awareness Heineken has opted for brand differentiation. As a brewer, HEINEKEN is a brand. As a brand, Heineken is a world reknowned beer. They have chosen to differentiate the corporate visual identity from the product visual identity.

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Rock Solid Branding

Prudential’s “Logo Evolution” of The Rock® is a perfect example of the simplifying of a logo. What began as a detailed illustration in 1870 has now evolved to its most simplistic form, displaying more of a symbolic visual icon. As mentioned in the last post, simplicity is one of the keys to a great logo. And great logos gain recognition.

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How good stories get distorted

It’s like the old game telephone – you whisper something in someones ear and they pass the message along. The last person conveys what they heard and it is totally different than what was originally spoken. Telephone, rumors, whatever, so goes poor communication on the internet.

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20 Corporate Brand Logo Evolution

This site tell the stories of the visual and conceptual transitions of 20 corporate brand logos.

I particularly like number 1, the Apple evolution.

Don’t miss Volkswagen, number 11. Company history ties the German automaker with Adolf Hitler (1933).