Why Cadillac Dropped its Wreath & Why You Should Think Twice About Changing Your Company’s Logo
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on January 16, 2014
When Cadillac announced its intention to drop the wreath from its ornamental logo, I felt a pang of sorrow. I’ve never owned a Cadillac, but growing up in Texas, the brand has always embodied the essence of luxury. Driving a big old “Caddy” meant you’d “made it,” along with the car payments, presumably.
While Cadillac’s C-suite waxes poetic about the “jewel”-like qualities of the wreathless crest, and how that will modernize their brand, I couldn’t help but wonder if they couldn’t have gotten more mileage out of keeping the logo and embracing their status as an American icon. (See my blog post about Amtrak, another brand with nostalgic value.) A very informal poll of my peers tells me they could have, indeed, that vehicle appointments and even advertising is more influential than the hood ornament on driving purchase decisions.
So, with a tip of the hat to the wreath, here are three things to consider before changing your logo.
How recognizable is your current logo?
If it offers instant recognition, you’re probably Nike. (The story of how they developed their logo is a particularly good one, too.) But seriously, if your logo has brand recognition – and especially if the logo mark can loom this large alone – I’d definitely think more than twice before making drastic changes.
How functional is your current logo?
Does it show up well at various scales, and when produced in black, white, or a single color? Does it read well in print, on promo items, and online? If so, it’s a workhorse, so make sure that any changes maintain these enviable qualities.
Have your target markets or your product offerings shifted appreciably?
If so, then a change will be more acceptable because it will seem more logical. If nothing has changed except your logo, some consumers – savvy to corporate post-disaster shape-shifting – will be suspicious, assuming that you’re simply trying to distance yourself from something unsavory. Hardly the result you’re going for.
Now don’t get me wrong: there are many valid reasons to change your logo, including mergers and acquisitions, major shifts in services, or replacing a hastily or poorly done logo. But sometimes a brand refresh that brings a shift in color, proportion, or a typeface “lift,” is more appropriate. Just make sure that you (and your branding firm) look both ways before you cross that wide Branding Boulevard!