The fashion business has accepted the risk and has chosen to renew its image in a similar way to remain relevant.
Renewing or dying. This maxim is part of the DNA of the fashion business except for one element: its logo. This element, fundamental in the sector (the logomania has increased the luxury sales for decades) is only changed after generations or when you want to give a voluntary shake to a firm. However, just as the pace of collections has accelerated, in recent years there has been a wave of logo changes in all fashion segments: from luxury to large retail. Why at this moment? How should it be done to avoid following Gap's path, and having to backtrack?
The last company to join this wave has been Desigual, which last week announced a new logo with the letters of the word inverted. A risky move, made at a turning point for the company, which last year broke with the French investment fund Eurazeo and which is immersed in a profound transformation plan.
The logo is the backbone of the image that the company is seeking to transmit. "For the fashion business, the brand image is doubly important, since 70% of the value of a fashion company belongs to the brand," explains Borja Borrero, creative executive director of the brand consultancy Interbrand for Europe and Latin America.
Fashion companies focus many of their efforts on transmitting a good brand image
For this reason, companies focus their efforts on the renewal of the logo when looking for a change of image. "Companies change their image when they want a change of strategic business direction to avoid aesthetic expiration; it is renewing itself
or dying ", underlines Borrero.
Fashion companies have also participated in logo and image changes, with their respective successes and failures. Recently, the logo changes "respond to the search for greater readability, but with an obvious loss of personality", point out the graphic team of the creative consultancy CuldeSac. In addition, both Borrero and the CuldeSac team agree on rejuvenation as the main reason for the most recent changes in image.
Precisely, the renewal was the reason for the change of logo of Gap. In 2010, Gap ventured to radically change its logo. The American clothing company opted for a "stick" type, Sans-Serif style, that broke aesthetically with the elongated letters in blue background that defined the old image of the company, whose most iconic item were the sweatshirts printed with the logo of the brand itself.
In an attempt to position themselves in the digital environment, other brands have made a similar turn as Gap, although with less impact. The change of style, above all typographical, has "neutralized the aesthetics of fashion brands", in words of Borja Borrero. However, the error that returned the logo of Gap to the closet was that "the public opined about the brand without knowing the process or the strategy, it was thrown into the void", explain from CuldeSac.
"People missed the reason for the change of logo and Gap did not transmit their philosophy at any time, alongside with the change", adds Borja Borrero. The push of the controversy in social networks forced Gap to withdraw its new logo and return to the old image of the company, despite following the same pattern that other fashion companies also used, but with a successful result.
On the other side of the scale are the companies that bet on rejuvenating through a positive change of image. This is the case of the sports fashion company Nike, "with the very recognizable visual language, which means that when you see the logo you identify it directly with Nike", argues Borrero.
In 1994, Nike withdrew its name from the logo and relaunched the brand towards how it is currently known
The company decided in 1994 to remove its name from the logo and leave only the company badge blank in black background. The decision was positive for the company, which further strengthened its brand image, because "they can freely express your character without needing to put your name on the logo", as pointed from CuldeSac.
Another of the successes in logo changes falls on Bimba and Lola. The Spanish company eliminated in 2013 the '&' of its name, replacing it with the conjunction 'y' (and, in english), in addition to taking advantage of the name change to renew its logo. The change came hand in hand with the company's international expansion, reinforcing Borrero's thesis that companies change their image when they vary in direction and strategy.
Del Pozo took a similar course to that of the women's fashion company. In 2012, the company decided to radically change its image and eliminated 'Jesus' from the logo, leaving only the surnames of the founder of the company, while bringing typography closer to a defined style, based on Sans Serif.
The Spanish giant Inditex has also submitted some of its brands to a logo renewal. These are the examples of Pull & Bear or Bershka, who have chosen to introduce Sans Serif-type typographical elements in their logos, in an attempt to "return to the essence to be free again and represent what we mean as fashion", says Carlos Sánchez, Vieri ', from the CuldeSac graphic team.
However, Zara has been the Inditex subsidiary that caused more media noise at the time of changing its logo. The flagship of the Spanish giant also chose to approach the Serif elements for their typology and bring their logo letters closer. "Zara can play to make a change like the one that has done because it has market power", underline the members of CuldeSac.
The position of privilege at the market level has allowed Zara to make a change of image and logo this year, without raising criticism, because "a big company has everything very tied", in the words of Mónica Cáceres and Ana Romeu, also members of the team CuldeSac graphic.
Zara was successful in its logo change, since it has a privileged market position
However, for Borja Borrero, of Interbrand, Zara's change has come at the right time, given that "when people start not understanding your philosophy very well, you must change your image". Zara has chosen to make use of the necessary risk, although from a privileged market position, in the eyes of Borrero.
The luxury sector has followed the same dynamics as the most affordable fashion distribution companies. Yves Saint Laurent withdrew the word 'Yves' from his logo and moved his typography to the side of the Sans Serif. The movement was parallel in many other companies in the sector, such as Balenciaga, Burberry, Berluti or Balmain, which have simplified their logos while at the same time approaching it to the ones of their competitors.
The decision is explained by "the arrival of new creative directors to the companies and the roots of a new philosophy", according to the analysis of the CuldeSac team. However, luxury brands are recovering patterns of non-luxury firms. "Luxury brands play non-luxury codes, we all like to wear the logo, while non-luxury brands have it more difficult because they have more critical mass," explains Interbrand's creative executive director, Borja Borrero.
Luxury companies have played with non-luxury elements to change their logo
In addition, the unification of criteria also responds to the search for a 'responsive' design, to adapt to the digital world. In fact, Borrero says that "the logos and the image of the brand are designed for the online, and then it moves to offline, unlike what happened previously." Thinking digitally explains to a large extent the wave of image changes of fashion companies.
When it comes to Spanish fashion companies, Desigual has been the last company to undertake a logo change, under the creative direction of Thomas Meyer. The company has chosen to turn its distinctive and approach the typographic style of other fashion companies. It is the most recent movement in the series of image changes of fashion companies, which have both veered towards the same vector.