Why Logo Rebranding Is A Delicate Process (5 Industry Examples)

What’s worse than spending $1 Million on Logo Rebranding? Spending $1 Million only to revert back to your original Logo 6 days later. What can you learn from these massive rebrand failures?

pepsi logo

Featured image source: Depositphotos

When big-name companies do a logo redesign, people take notice because it means something that was deeply ingrained in their shared culture and day to day lives has changed.

We’ve gotten used to being surrounded by logos, so when a company suddenly decides to make a drastic change, the least it can do is create something that looks good and makes sense.

But we all know, things don’t always work out as planned, and we are here to illustrate a few examples of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Here’s why logo rebranding is a delicate process, along with five notable examples.

GAP Logo Rebranding


During the busy 2010 Christmas season, Gap suddenly launched a new and expensive logo and rebranded their company with no prior warning.

The original logo design, which had served the company for more than 20 years, disappeared without a trace overnight and got replaced with an image of the word Gap in bold font and a small blue square.

As soon as people realized the change was permanent and no mistake was made by an intern, the internet community started sniggering about the logo.

It was clear that nobody liked the design, because it went against everything the company stood for.

Gap is a brand associated with simplicity and familiarity, in the sense that when you enter one of their stores, you know exactly what you are getting, regardless of location.

So, you can probably see why a sudden and drastic redesign of their logo, as well as an unannounced rebranding move, left so many people dissatisfied.

To give credit where credit is due, Gap performed one of the fastest rebranding turnabouts of all time and went back to the original design just six days after raising possibly millions of suspicious eyebrows.

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Logo Rebranding Pepsi

Back in 2008, Pepsi launched the latest iteration of their logo.

The redesign consisted of rotating the circular icon into an angle to vaguely resemble a “cheeky smile.” The new logo cost the company about 1 million dollars, which is frankly $1 million more than they should have paid for the design.

The design team said that the stripes in the redesigned circular icon were supposed to resemble “smiles”. Then, the design agency doubled down on the ridiculousness of the redesign and released a logo design document that explains the process behind the change.

The design agency tried to link the new logo to things like the Mona Lisa, the Parthenon, the Hindu tradition, Sun radiation and Earth’s gravitational field. The document goes on with other explanations, linking the new logo to humanity’s achievements in science, invoking geometric arguments and tracing the ‘Pepsi DNA,’ whatever that means.

This is probably the quintessential example of what happens when you try to make your brand too novel, or vastly overthink the issue.

Too bad they couldn’t hire Don Draper as their fictional counterparts did in the show, otherwise this mess could have been avoided.


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Gatorade Logo Rebranding

Over the years, Gatorade has become one of the go-to refreshing drinks for many people and has been frequently associated with victory, sportsmanship and, most recently, the video game culture. Since 1967, when it was first developed at the University of Florida, Gatorade has claimed its seat at the table of the most famous sports drinks in the world.

The reason Gatorade achieved this level of mainstream recognizance (apart from the novel concept of the drink) is their iconic logo. In 1970, when it was introduced, the logo featured a lightning bolt design, with the brand name written in a dynamic sans-serifs font.

That changed in 2009, when Gatorade launched the biggest rebranding campaign in the history of the company.

How Gatorade handled this process is still up for debate but the general consensus is that the new logo went against what the company stood for.

The original logo, despite all the smaller changes that it experienced over the years, worked because it sent a simple and clear message: it symbolized power and raw energy, i.e. two things that the drink promised to offer. The bold orange and green colors, apart from having an endearing retro look, stood for vitality and energy.

However, the 2009 logo (pictured) was frowned upon because it put a bigger emphasis on the brand instead of the product in itself or because of the message it was trying to convey.

As a result, the message the old logo was trying to get across – power, raw energy, sportsmanship, competitiveness – was watered down beyond recognition. Seeing that the rebranding was not well received, Gatorade quickly reverted to a design that resembled the original logo from the 1970’s.

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Logo Rebranding Tropicana

tropicana logo rebranding

At this point, it is quite clear that rebranding is not one of Pepsi’s strong suits.

To further prove that point, let’s take a look at one of the other brands that the company owns, Tropicana.

The Tropicana rebrand was conceived while the new Pepsi logo was failing to make waves. Unfortunately, one could argue that the Tropicana rebrand was worse than that of Pepsi. While their main brand went through a disastrous, albeit totally fixable change, through the redesign, Tropicana lost virtually all of its identity, and caused sales to plummet.

Everything that made the Tropicana logo stand out disappeared. The big, noticeable orange was turned into a visual reflection of a container filled with orange liquid. The company’s name, which had previously dominated the product’s packaging design, was positioned vertically and placed on the side of the box.

While before the change, one could spot a Tropicana box from a mile away, the new packaging made the product look bland, generic and indistinguishable from the other hundreds of no-name fruit juices.

The lesson here? If you are going for a minimalistic design, do not do it to the detriment of your brand.


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Mastercard Logo Rebranding


Mastercard commercials were a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by generic ads.

They were funny, engaging and had a great story to tell. The brand’s spot in pop culture was all but ensured by their iconic logo, which consisted of two overlapped circles that symbolized the overlapping of the commerce between international powers, namely the East and West. The symbolic use of the number two represented the promise of instant gratification.

It was a clever and well-thought logo.

Which is of course why their 2016 rebrand was poorly received.

When a company goes for a rebranding, the idea behind it is to simplify an already iconic logo and send the message that the brand is evolving with the times.

And since the new logo now features three circles instead of two, you can’t exactly say they have simplified it. Not to mention that the latest redesign is chaotic and uneasy to the eye due to the transparent effects. Furthermore, the colors are washed out, and placing the name of the company underneath the interlocking circles makes the logo look overcrowded.


As much as we love to bash the failed occasional corporate rebranding efforts, truth of the matter is a successful rebranding campaign is very hard to pull off. When launching a rebrand, you are essentially gambling the reputation and future of your company in the hopes of staying relevant in the current market. So, the stakes are very high. It is a delicate process with many nuances and details to take into account. The five rebranding failures highlighted in this article are the perfect example of what happens when companies do not do their due diligence to ensure that both the spirit and the message of their brands are reflected by their new logos.