The 2010s: A decade in rebrands

Rebrands from throughout the 2010s

What do you do at the start of a new decade? Reminisce about the last one, of course. In this article we’re taking a look back at how some of the world’s most famous brands reinvented themselves in the twenty-tens – who nailed it and who didn’t?

Gap, 2010

At the start of the decade, Gap launched its first new logo for 20 years. Without warning the old identity disappeared, sparking six days of social media outcry that resulted in the retail company reverting to its original design.

President of Gap North America Marka Hansen admitted they hadn’t gone about the change in the right way and that customers weren’t ready for it. Clearly illustrating that for a rebrand to be successful, you have to engage your audience.

Starbucks, 2011

Early 2011 saw Starbucks celebrate its 40th birthday. The coffee giant marked the occasion by donning a fresh look that dropped the company name from its 19-year-old logo to go full siren.

Some considered this a bold move but, the siren’s iconic nature has seen her achieve global fame. CEO Howard Schultz said the evolution respected the chain’s heritage and had futureproofed it – seems he was onto something as it hasn’t changed since.

eBay, 2012

Seventeen years after its creation, eBay underwent its first rebrand. The online marketplace was born in the desktop era, and as such, it was time for something more digitally dynamic. So, eBay shed its Nineties-style skin in favour of a modern reskin.

While the colours remained mostly similar, we bid farewell to the busy overlapping. But, if you look closely, you’ll see that the letters are still touching as a continued reference to the “connected and diverse community” the company serves.

ITV, 2013

Before 2013 the ITV logo hadn’t changed since late 2006, and the new one was quite a deviation. The chameleon-esque design was all about fusing the logo and the imagery surrounding it, with its five elements taking colours from their environment.

The broader palette was chosen to highlight the breadth of content the family of ITV channels airs. Its colour-changing flexibility has also allowed ITV to adapt its logo to events and seasonality, offering a perfect opportunity to be reactive.

Airbnb, 2014

Of the rebrands we’ve featured here, this one from Airbnb might be the most drastic. Wanting to mirror the company’s core belief of belonging in its new identity, Airbnb designed a symbol to communicate this concept – the Bélo.

Created by merging four components: a person, location pin, heart and the Airbnb “A”, the result is a sort of upside-down pretzel. The logo change coincided with a UX overhaul, so the Bélo works much better in the digital space than its antecedent.

Google, 2015

Back in the day, people made their way to Google through one device – the desktop. Fast forward a few years and users were coming from all over. As such Google needed to shift its identity once more to guarantee it was looking its best across any channel.

The latest design is described as “uncluttered, colourful and friendly” and its iconography has been changed to match. Much like Airbnb, this switch was all about helping Google to keep up with the latest digital developments.

Instagram, 2016

Instagram crash-landed into our lives at the dawn of the twenty-tens and has already undergone a couple of redesigns. The latest, released in 2016, was dramatically different from its much-loved Polaroid-inspired logo of old.

The aim here was to simplify by creating a flat, more minimalist design that could be adapted for the company’s other apps. The updated look represents the vibrancy of the platform’s storytelling and offers a colourful doorway into the world of Instagram.

Skype, 2017

After Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, it was important for the communication tool to look like a member of its new family. That meant swapping out the bubbly logo for something cleaner that mirrored the rest of the Microsoft Office suite.

The rebrand happened alongside a website and app redesign. Showing us that if you’re planning to rework your UX, it’s a good idea to get as much change out of the way in one go, to shorten customer adjustment periods and minimise frustration.

The John Lewis Partnership, 2018

Back in 2018, Pentagram was tasked with developing three unified identities for the John Lewis Partnership, John Lewis and Waitrose. They needed to work in harmony and highlight the close connection between the brands.

The new logos acknowledged their ancestry by using the Gills Sans font that is synonymous with John Lewis and keeping the familiar stripes. These clever alterations mean they’re now able to be adapted across all media, products and services.

Volkswagen, 2019

In September 2019, car manufacturer Volkswagen unveiled its new identity. The change came four years after the company’s global emissions scandal and hoped to start the business on a more positive and sustainable path – electric vehicles.

Volkswagen swapped its 3D chrome effect logo for a bolder 2D design that would work everywhere from digital platforms to car bonnets. It’s precisely this digital flexibility that can better represent the electric cars the logo is there to promote.

So, in conclusion

Researching this topic, you’d think every company and its dog had rebranded in the last decade and what connects the vast majority is a shift toward simplicity. Constant digital advances mean it’s essential that logos can mould to fit any developments.

It’s also interesting to learn the different reasons for rebranding: taking the business in a new direction, marking a company milestone, overhauling UX, futureproofing and more.

But the most important lessons we’ve learnt is to keep customers in the loop and to try and keep some semblance of your original brand to soften the blow for those that are most loyal to it.

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