Back in 2014, The Hershey Company asked Ron Burrage, their head of global design, to update their identity system. In redesigning the logo, Burrage dropped the “’s” and added a chocolate kiss — one of Hershey’s most famous chocolate products. Unfortunately to the general public, it seemed the kiss looked a little like… well… a poop.
Social media lit up with comments like “Hershey’s new logo is just some blinking eyes away from being a poo emoji,” and “Hershey’s hires a design firm to design a brand new steaming pile of poo.” Yikes. Burrage reported his first thought upon hearing the feedback was something akin to “oh crap”. To their credit, the company stood vigilantly behind Burrage and his work and it showed that they believed in the work they were doing and would not be bullied into changing back.
In the age of social media, it’s not uncommon that a large corporation goes through a rebranding only to have the launch be met with extreme criticism. Public outcry can snowball into such bad press that the company ends up reverting back to the original logo. (You might remember “Gapgate” in 2010 when GAP unveiled their first new logo design in 24 years and then quickly backtracked.)
Everyone’s got an opinion and it’s inevitable that high-profile designs are liable to face criticism. But the same thing can take place on a smaller scale as well. I once went through a lengthy branding process that resulted in the client choosing a simple, contemporary logo design. I soon received feedback from the client that, upon seeing the logo, a friend had remarked “You paid $XXX for that???” “No,” I reminded the client, “that was the design you chose. You paid for that and much more”.
A logo element taken out of the context of a larger identity system can easily be misunderstood. Or the simplicity of an elegant, contemporary logo can belie the amount of research that was put in, the number of designs that were produced, or even what the goals of the project were and whether they were met.
The moral of the story? If the background work is well done, and the client stands in support of their creative team, good branding can make a powerful impact.