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We all go into the logo design process wanting to create the next cult classic. Having a logo that is recognized and loved passionately is good for everyone, including the business, the customers, and the logo designer. However, having a well-known logo such as this has a few drawbacks as well. As we saw with the Gap logo just a couple of weeks ago, a logo can become too iconic to be changed.

The Gap is not the only business with a logo that is simply too popular to change. Consider American classic motorcycle company Harley Davidson. Would a Hawg by any other name look as bad-ass? We don’t think so, and the name is not nearly as big a part of this brand as the logo design that we see plastered on biker gear all over the world.

Unfortunately, there comes a time in every logo’s life span when it simply needs to be replaced. We don’t mean to pick on the biking giant, but if its logo design stops resonating with people who are interested in loud, large motorcycles, it will be time for a change. However, this likely won’t go well with many people in the fan base.

As for the Gap: the new logo design was bad, really undeniably bad. Especially so when you consider that the Gap uses several logos at any given time and all of them are exceptionally well designed. Why bother designing an entirely new one, an image that you will print on signage and shopping bags, and go with a substandard product? The outcry was natural, but logo designers everywhere had to wonder if a similar level of complaint would have come with just about any logo redesign. While the Gap logo needs a change in order to stay ‘cool’ and appeal to young, affluent buyers, it nonetheless is loved by people who grew up with its understated charm.

While having a logo design created for your company is a stressful process, it is nowhere near as successful as the process involved in replacing a logo with a long history of success. You may think that this is a problem only for huge brands such as the Gap, but it remains true for any brand with a considerable presence in its community. Further, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have made it easy for fans to post their opinions with as much snark and as little investment of time as possible. There was a time when protesting a new Gap logo would mean writing a letter, printing it, and putting it in an envelope with an overpriced stamp before walking it down to the mailbox. Compare this to the two seconds it takes to post on Facebook from your smartphone and you’ll see how the new Gap logo received such an unprecedented response.

When you are redesigning a logo, it is important to listen to your customer base. Don’t let them design the logo, but definitely keep your finger on the pulse of your most loyal fans. Social media has made it easy for them to raise a fuss if they don’t like the result, but it has also made it easy for business owners like you to get a result that everyone approves of.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.