Toward the end of 2010, a couple of high profile corporate logo redesigns made the social media rounds.

The Gap unveiled a strange new logo to pretty much universal jeers. See for yourself below (the original on the left, the updated on the right):

While one can make the argument that any publicity (even when extremely negative or hostile in tone) is good publicity, I’m not sure what they were trying to communicate with their new logo.  Maybe something like, “We know what Web 2.0 is“?

Ironically Ugly?

Another clothing chain seems to have chosen the purposefully ugly route, perhaps even joining the “cult of the ugly.” The Urban Outfitters logo redesign doesn’t appear to have been permanent (they’re known for rotating logos on their website pretty regularly), but it definitely achieved its goal of being ugly:

Was this logo the equivalent of an ironic hipster wink? Apparently, they had Horrible Logos create this particular design — which is advertised in the following manner:

Are you looking for a hand drawn logo with the worst possible style and quality at a really affordable price?

 You’ve come to the right place. I’ll design you a crappy logo for a mere $5. That’s right, 5 BUCKS! to buy myself a beer at the local watering hole.

Design by Committee

As someone who’s been on both sides of the process, redesigning a logo is extremely difficult work. The logo is more than just an aesthetically pleasing image, although it probably should be at least that. Hopefully, your logo conveys a sense of who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s asking quite a bit of a simple image.

When you’ve got many different stakeholder voices weighing in, it can have the effect of creating something akin to Homer Simpson’s dream car — a hot mess of every bell & whistle a team can conceive.

Although this video is not real, for many designers, it is just barely a fictional story:

This video has some painfully all-too-real quotes:

Designer: Okay, so we’re basically targeting all drivers?

Client: No, we’re targeting women. But we’re also targeting men, secondarily.

Just Tweak It

Starbucks is gearing up to change their logo as well. You can watch a short video of their CEO, Howard Schultz, explain the backstory here. Check out a brief history of their logo below:

To me, this is not such a dramatic change. It maintains the same icon, just on a larger scale, and the same distinct green color. Dropping the text ring doesn’t seem to be a big deal to me, because I think the ubiquity of their coffee shops & products has ingrained the siren icon into the minds of many consumers already.

I’m intrigued by the idea of thinking “beyond coffee.” Maybe they’ll finally do something with Pinkberry!

If that was too much graphic design nerdery for you, listen to this classic De La Soul track, Say No Go: