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Pitchfork is one of the up-and-coming music websites, offering a website, a concert series and a music video channel of the same name. The company has been growing steadily in both popularity and clout, and recently redesigned their logo to continue growing the brand.

The old logo design featured the name of the company in rather generic letters, which were rounded slightly with serifs in a style that is common in modern business. The image tied directly into the name, three red arrows meant to refer to the tines of a pitchfork enclosed in a bold circle. This image added interest to the logo, which otherwise would not have been very memorable.

The new logo design keeps the interesting parts of the old logo, namely the image and the general shape while building the brand with a custom font. The new font is similar in feeling to the old but features the three arrows formed in negative space at the bottom of the K. In addition, the entire font has been modified to make this device work better with the overall lettering, with notches cut into the letters. In addition, the red in the image has been dropped in favor of a monochromatic black logo.

The loss of the red takes away some of the visual interest of the logo; that little red highlight made the image pop. On the other hand, red is still used on the company website, so there is hope for it to return. Colorless logo designs can work for some companies, but this one seems to look better with the small addition of color. On the other hand, removing the red allows the name of the company to be the main part of the logo design and not just supporting the text.

The change in the font is a good one in our opinion, although it has raised some controversy in the company’s fan base. It has an edgier feeling and ties into the image beautifully. This wording is a better representative of the Pitchfork brand. The notches make the typeface feel a little less bold, but it is strong even with them. Softening the letters does not detract from the feeling that this logo design is trying to portray; if anything, it balances this image and gives Pitchfork a sensitive, indie undertone.

In addition, having a customer font created for the company will allow them to create a more comprehensive brand experience. The font can be used outside the logo, such as on concert signage, and help to build the Pitchfork brand. The K looks as though it is wearing shoes—extreme platform shoes—which is an amusing touch for the logo.

This is a great example of how companies can rebrand without losing the more salient parts of their brand. The new logo design is easy to identify and also easy to relate to the former one. It keeps the memorable parts of the old logo while improving on the more forgettable ones.

Old Logo Designs

Just like old soldiers, old logos never die, they just fade away. Is your logo fading?

Remember the powerful voice your logo had when you first gave it your brand’s identity. It spoke for your brand in its infancy but is it still saying what you want it to? By its very symbols, logo design colors and shapes, is it still communicating the image you currently desire for your brand? Does it subtly suggest the many benefits your customers will receive if they become your client?

Tough questions – all of them – but ones every entrepreneur should ask each year. Some logos rise up to become irrevocably united with the brands they represent. Others lose impact and like old soldiers, simply fade away.

Even the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval has been updated seven times since the first GHSA logo was designed some 100 years ago.

If your logo doesn’t subliminally broadcast how unique your brand is, if it doesn’t bring to mind specific qualities that are innate to you and your brand, it is not doing its job. For example, an outdated product logo on an established brand can inadvertently help a newly-introduced brand from the same company to cannibalize the older and weaker one.

Marketers who have several brands in the same product category, e.g. laundry detergents, bar soaps, are often faced with the danger of cannibalization. When a new entry excites the consumer, he/she is apt to switch usage to the new brand – unless his/her current brand has a strong image, one that ensures unwavering loyalty simply because its benefits are clearly delineated via a comprehensive marketing program.

A great logo can help to create a strong image that will defy cannibalization. Analyze yours. What do its colors say – clean? soft? strong? What do its shapes suggest – a new creative direction? uplifting movement? Is your tag line speaking in unison with the graphics?

Your logo is your brand’s silent mouthpiece. Study it and see if you get any message. If it is not communicating your brand’s message in its current form, turn up the volume – update your logo with a new look, one that still encompasses your brand’s tried and true values while adding a current-day dimension, an additional facet to your design.

Kissing The Old Logo Goodbye

The Hershey’s candy logo has not changed in, well, decades, but they are constantly changing up the designs of their smaller brands. We recently were watching Food Network TV Channel Logo and saw a new logo design for the much loved Hershey’s Kisses. A little digging around on the internet revealed that, indeed, these bite-sized chocolate treats have kissed their old logo goodbye.

The old Hershey’s Kisses logo design featured the familiar rectangular Hershey’s logo along with the word Kisses in a beveled upper case writing with subtle serifs. The familiar Hershey chocolate brown and white are the main colors, along with bevels and shadowing in a silver color that relates to the familiar silver wrapper used in the candy.

This is not an inherently bad logo, but there is certainly room for improvement. The beveling and shading is not used very often in modern logo design, and it just feels a little messy. It also has key reproduction problems; the beveling will make it difficult to reproduce in very large and very small formats. Scaling is an important part of modern logo design, especially for a logo such as this one that will be used in a variety of places.

The new logo design is certainly more modern. The font is similar, but the beveling, shading and gray accents have been disposed of altogether. The lettering feels rounder and friendlier, although this may be a result of losing the gratuitous details. It also feels more modern, but the design still ties into the Hershey’s brand with the brown and white color scheme. The simpler design will be easier to use on packaging and promotional materials, making it a generally more usable design. It is a better logo to be sure, but there are still a few issues.

First, the way the Hershey’s logo is justified against the word ‘Kisses’ feels unnatural. We think it would look better if the rectangle were pushed to the left completely. Also, the little rectangles below the design that contains the words ‘brand’ and ‘since 1907’ just don’t seem to complement the design at all. Not only to the shapes feel like they are disconnected from the rest of the design, the fonts don’t fit the other ones used. The lettering is too thin. Considering that these words say little about the brand or the candy itself, we have to wonder if they are truly necessary.

One thing we wish the new logo had not lost is the little Kiss shape hidden between the K and the I in the old design. While it is unlikely that the average candy lover noticed this little detail, it was still a fun addition. However, retaining the kiss would have severely limited the ability to change the font, which is a major part of the redesign. The font maintains the tiny serifs that are reminiscent of the tops of the kisses, so it is still directly relevant to the product itself. Even the strongest brand needs an occasional update, and this one is very appropriate and well-designed.

Old Logos Flood Stores

Despite the technological advances we have seen over past decades, many manufacturers are finding that nostalgia can be a major marketing tool. If you walk down almost any grocery store aisle, you will notice that ‘old school’ logo design is coming back. Many of America’s favorite food companies are using packaging and logos created to appeal to your inner child.

When does an old school logo design work? First, if you are selling products that have a retro feel. Twinkie is one brand that has a nostalgic logo and packaging for select products. The company decided to sell a limited run of their banana flavored Twinkies, a product that was popular years ago. This product is sold in a box with the original ‘Twinkie the Kid’ character, which is basically a snack cake dressed up as a cowboy as well as the Hostess logo from the era in question

Another instance when a retro logo design can be effective is when a company is trying to woo back old fans after losing much of their customer base. This is the case with Archie comics. The comics rebranded years ago to try and attract a new, modern audience. However, this attempt was unsuccessful. Not only did few new customers try the new Archie, but the brand actually lost existing fans. Archie is returning to their old, retro style and changing their graphics accordingly. Hopefully, this will placate old Archie fans and convince them to start buying once again.

A final time when an old school logo design is the best choice is when you are trying to create nostalgic feelings in an audience that is familiar with a product’s former design. I can fondly picture the early eighties logo of Cap’n Crunch cereal; my mother never let me eat them, but I still snuck in wistful glances at the supermarket. A retro logo like the one now being used for a limited time by the cereal will appeal to former kids who weren’t allowed to eat the cereal as well as those who spent their Saturday mornings watching Smurfs with a bowl of the crunchy sweets.

There are several factors that give a logo design a retro feeling. As we have seen in these examples, using the simple characters of a bygone era can be effective. Bright coloring and long out-of-style fonts can also create retro magic. What works for one company may not work for another, but retro logo designs can be very effective for companies who want to appeal to a market that is nostalgic for the past.

There are a few caveats, however. First, if your product does not offer the quality that your audience remembers, a retro logo can actually turn people off. This is complicated by the fact that you are competing not with an actual product, but with fond memories. Second, if you are using a brand that suggests non-retro qualities, such as technological superiority or fashion-forwardness, a retro logo design can actually set you back by making implications that are destructive to your overall brand.

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.