Smart Rebranding – How to redesign your logo without destroying brand identity

Rebranding has been a hot topic in the studio this month, particularly the subtle art of modernising a brand without destroying brand recognition.

So I thought I would write about how we go about it and breakdown a few examples, including a current project we have underway right now.

When people come to us looking for a new logo design it is common for them to speak a little tentatively – no one wants to accidentally lose years of brand recognition in the stroke of an art brush.

So often the conversation starts with something like this:

“We want a fresh, modern look for our company but we want people to still recognise who we are when they see our new logo.”

Fair enough. So why rebrand?

Some logos are redesigned because they are dated or lack a professional edge. Some are redesigned because they are hard to reproduce across different media. And sometimes you will see a logo that is a product of someone with a talent for using Microsoft Word or Publisher, but are constrained by the software’s limitations, or perhaps their own design limitations!

You can tell at a glance whether a logo has been designed with a professional eye, and with forethought as to how and where to logo will be used.

As designers these brand makeovers present an exciting challenge: to reinvigorate the old while resisting the temptation to create something entirely new.


What are the motivations for our customers?

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A professional image builds consumer confidence

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Conversely, a less than professional brand can be a barrier to getting your foot in the door

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A logo represents who you are as a company; your values.

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A brand should be something that your target market can identify with

What should you consider when planning a logo upgrade?

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A strong factor in brand recognition, so it can be a good idea to keep the existing colours. Or perhaps consider tweaking a little if this will support a more modern end result.

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Graphic elements

Not all logos need a graphic but for those that could benefit from one, you should ensure it adds value to the overall look; it works well with the colours and fonts used; and is meaningful to your audience.

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More expendable than colour when it comes to brand recognition however the font is just as important when aiming to create a modern, professional image.

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A professional designer will take care with how individual elements of a logo come together. You may wish to create a logo that can be easily reconfigured to suit both a horizontal arrangement and a vertical (stacked) configuration.

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Leading on from the point above, you should ensure that the type is readable when the logo is shown at a small size (e.g. email signatures, or printed small on items such as on pens and labels). Will the logo be easy to reproduce in signage and when screen printed or embroidered onto apparel?

Three examples of rebranding by Hart Design

City Siteworks Rebranding

This is a rebranding project we have in production in our studio this week.

Dating back to 1986, City Siteworks is a civil engineering contractor with a brand that has been around since Moses wore short pants. Their logo is splashed across a vast fleet of machinery as well as print materials. Greg Stewart and Spencer Walesby of City Siteworks have agreed it’s time to rethink the old image in favour of a more professional, modern look. Given how well known the brand is in their industry, we must ensure that we approach the project with care.

Once we’ve settled on a new design, the plan will be to roll this out progressively. City Siteworks will start with a new website, company profile and business card design – also in production at Hart Design as I write this. The new brand will be phased in as and when vehicles and other branded items need to be replaced. There’s no rush to replace everything overnight, and this means that our new design can’t be allowed to stray too far from its predecessor.

Key considerations:

Color Changes

We’ll look to keep the blue colouring but consider a shift from navy to a fresher royal blue.

City Siteworks logo on light background

Create an easy progression from old to new with careful thought of the logo’s composition and font style, while at the same time raising the bar.

City Siteworks - compare before after

The grey shadow of the old logo is not entirely lost – we’re reinterpreted this with a simple cut out as the y of City overlays the W of Siteworks.

Australasian Audio Engineering Rebranding

AAE ‘s previous logo and branding was only 12 months old yet it felt somewhat dated even at the time of its launch.

If anything, this logo was a little too ‘over designed’ and we were tasked with delivering some simplicity to the logo itself, and modernising the supporting brand elements. On top of that, the colour gradient made it a nightmare to embroider on their corporate attire. One year on, AAE were motivated to change.

The brief was to reimagine the logo as a simpler version of its former self. Having explored a few colour options taken from the original design, we settled on a sky blue colour that lends a bright tone to the overall design. The charcoal grey was brought back a little from the almost-black of the original.

Key considerations:

AAE logo after redesign

The owners of AAE had two specific requests: one straightforward the other surprisingly challenging. Firstly, the composition was to stay the same – audio graphic to left; then lowercase ‘aae’ followed by the company’s full name in capitals.

smart rebranding

Secondly, they favoured the shape of the ‘a’ which is drawn without the stem-curve above the tummy (see illustration). Searching for “stem-curveless” lowercase ‘a’ and a modern typeface that looked great as both lower and uppercase added a challenge within a challenge. Happily, after some digging, the right font jumped off the screen at us – it just worked!

AAE rebranding

Finally we designed a new audio graphic to suit the sharp edges of the font nicely. The old audio graphic suddenly looked more like a couple of sausages once you removed the colour gradient, and when juxtaposed with the new typeface!

A1 Garage Doors Rebranding

Another client looking for a modern take on an existing design was garage door repairman, Andrew, from A1 Garage Doors.

Andrew’s logo lacked a certain professionalism and he felt a more refined look would better represent his business.

Andrew’s requirements were that we retained the colours and kept the three, angled orange bars to represent the garage door. This was a feature he liked as it created a memorable point of interest, and references his particular field of interest: fixing broken garage doors.

Key considerations:

A1 logo before rebranding

Perhaps the most subtle of these three examples, A1 Garage Doors’ new logo is still a dramatic improvement if you’re looking to redesign a logo to a modern, professional standard, and without reinventing the wheel.

Logo redesign for A1

This was a straightforward design job where we reworked the shape of the roofline to align with a more modern long-run style roof. Ensuring the roofline and orange bars were parallel was key to providing a polished end result.

A1 logo after rebranding

An attractive, no-nonsense font was selected and set to the right of the graphic to create balance and an eye-pleasing overall look. The black was replaced with a warm grey, which created greater harmony with the bright orange.

All three projects had a common goal:
“Give us a refresh but don’t let the apple fall far from the tree”,
they said.

Let us know your thoughts – did we get these designs right? Did we manage to create stylish, contemporary logos that paid the proper respect to their predecessors?

And now that we’ve got you thinking… What does your logo say about your business? Could your logo use a refresh too?

Have a project in mind? Tell us about it.