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Small changes, big impact: why subtle logo updates transform brands' fortunes

20th April 2023

3-minutes read

Tiny adjustments to a logo can have a big impact on the look and feel of a company’s brand. In this blog post, we’ll explore why companies are opting for these subtle logo changes and what kind of effect they can have.

When we encounter familiar symbols and designs, it brings about positive associations with the company. It helps us remember what they stand for and creates an affinity for that particular business or brand. So it makes sense that many brands choose to subtly update their existing brand logos instead of completely redesigning them. This way they get all the benefits of a facelift while retaining elements of their original design. By making just subtle adjustments they can stay relevant and modern while also maintaining their established presence.

Some of these adjustments can be as simple as shifting colors or adding extra detail to letters or icons.

For example when Instagram updated their design recently they tweaked the colors and added extra curves on the logo device. These tiny tweaks give just enough visual distinction while still feeling familiar.

IKEA recently made a similar change by adjusting and refining the font to give a modern version of the classic brand logo.

Not only do subtle updates help keep brands recognizable they can also add a layer of sophistication that might not have been possible before and ensure the brand continues to remain relevant whilst acknowledging its legacy.

A small change can signal a bigger shift

People ask us why so many car manufacturers have decided to update their brand logos recently to (what we describe as) a more ‘flat’ design, with the 3D effects and shadows simplified to single colours and simple shapes.

One of the reasons for this, lies with the more seismic change in the industry, the new logos signal a strategic shift towards an electric future whilst acknowledging their heritage and what the brand stands for.

These simplified shapes are also easier to reproduce on smaller displays such as phones or in car displays. Everyone is used to looking at small screens with better clarity and less clutter. The new logos mimic icons and shapes in a style we are already accustomed to seeing on our digital devices thus aligning with our expectations and lifestyle.

Updating a logo can be a cost-effective way to refresh a brand

There are practical reasons why some brands undertake a subtle logo updates too.

A subtle update to a brand logo retains a coherent identity and is beneficial if they decide to roll out the change over a longer period of time. For example if they have fleets of vehicle liveries or signage to update, the investment can be spread over many months or even years.


Whatever size of your business or organisation, there are lots to learn from how big brands are doing things.

The best and most successful logo updates have one thing in common - they use these strategic subtle changes to keep cohesion whilst staying relevant and modern and demonstrating how they are moving with the times and reflecting their place in a changing marketplace.

Take five minutes to review your brand logo and assess how others in the same industry are positioning themselves.

Does your business logo still project an outdated image of a low-cost, no-frills service, while the market is moving towards a more personalised and upmarket level of service? Alternatively, does your brand logo only appeal to a declining customer base while failing to attract new markets? If you feel like you might be missing the mark, you may not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel and commit to a full rebrand when a subtle logo update could make all the difference.

Want us to review your existing brand logo to see if it's still relevant to you and your customers? Get in touch for a free brand identity review.

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Mark Wilde

Mark Wilde

Creative Director

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