If you're a startup or even a more established SME, at some point recently you've probably had to address the issue of branding. Maybe you opted to create your own logo in Microsoft Paint. Maybe you outsourced to a cheap freelance designer, or glossed over the issue altogether by downloading a generic stock logo. If so, I fear it may be only a matter of time until a logo disaster comes back to haunt you.
If you find yourself regretting a logo that was selected in haste, what should you do? Essentially you have 4 options, and each has its pros and cons.
1) Cast it into a pit of sulphur and sacrifice a goat to the Eternal Lord Imhotep
Pros: The logo you've grown to detest so much will enter the little known 23rd circle of Hell, where ugly designs are criticized by pretentious graphic art students for all eternity. Lord Imhotep will be most pleased, and may have a fruit basket sent to your office.
Cons: Procuring a goat requires a surprising amount of paperwork.
2) Stick with it
Pros: Sometimes sticking with a less-than-ideal logo is preferable to erasing the goodwill, recognition and engagement that has built around your brand. These are crucial factors in the early stages of a startup, and need to be carefully weighed. There may be better opportunities to make the change in the future when your business is more established, and when you have the resources to commit to a well-executed rebranding campaign.
Cons: If your logo is so poorly executed that it's genuinely harming the credibility of your startup, sticking with it could be driving away customers and investors. The primary purpose of a logo is to provide an effective visual shorthand for the personality and positioning of your business - if that purpose isn't being served then the logo is a liability rather than the powerful brand asset that it should be.
3) Improve it
Pros: Commissioning an experienced freelancer or branding agency to rework your logo could allow your startup to retain the positive associations that it's accrued for your startup so far, whilst realigning your brand for long term success. The costs should be less than a complete redesign, and you'll feel more confident in promoting your business to customers and investors.
Cons: Taking half-measures in trying to salvage a disastrous logo could end up creating additional rebranding costs but achieve little to fix the underlying problems. If your original logo was created without any regard for your startup's personality, values and positioning, then buffing it up will only provide a short-term cosmetic improvement. You could even end up having to revisit the logo for a third time to finally get it right.
4) Replace it
Pros: There's an argument to be made that the early stages of a startup are the ideal time to make course corrections, or 'pivot' as the jargon goes. It's the time when you're not yet fully established, and brand exposure is at a minimum. Completely replacing an ill-advised logo choice with a professionally developed design is more viable at this stage than at any other time, and will allow you to push forward with confidence.
Cons: If you've already invested money in a logo that turned out to be a bad choice, doing so again might not make financial sense for your fledgling enterprise. Aside from paying for branding services you'll also need to consider the costs of replacing your stationary, business cards, signage and so forth. You'll also have to invest time and resources to educate customers and stakeholders about the change.
To sum up, there's no easy or 'correct' answer when dealing with a logo disaster. Every scenario will have its own unique considerations. If you're worried about your branding feel free to get in touch - I'm more than happy to give free brand management recommendations for a fellow entrepreneur.
If you're starting a business or need to make a course correction after a false start, take a look at Brandsworth's Startup Identity Package, and discover the affordable branding agency for startups in Wales.