Most designers work on logo designs that can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the company and the scale of the work required for the redesign itself. But then, every once in awhile, a big company makes news by launching a new logo at a cost that gives the rest of the world sticker shock. For most people outside the design world, and even within it, it seems crazy that any company would spend more than $1 million for a logo.
So why can some branding firms charge so much for their logo work? For one thing, big corporations want to work with top-tier agencies, and those agencies have equally top-tier talent that can command high rates. Big corporations also have incredibly long lead times for approvals on any creative project, and that goes double for something as momentous as a logo redesign. With so many stakeholders weighing in, there are usually lots of meetings and lots of revisions, which can make the cost of the project balloon quickly. Branding agencies also spend weeks or months conducting research for the project and moving through an exploratory phase. This process takes time, which in the agency world means money.
Here we’re looking at 5 logo redesigns and branding campaigns that came with multi-million dollar price-tags -- what went into the redesigns, what changed, what stayed the same, and how the revamped branding was received.
1. Pepsi logo redesign -- $1 million
The Pepsi logo, with its iconic color combination and swooshing lines, is considered one of the most recognizable logos in the world. The red, white, and blue logo has been around since 1940, though it has gone through many evolutions since then. In 2009 the logo was redesigned again, resulting in a flatter, more minimalist look for the iconic Pepsi globe. The shape of the elements within the globe also underwent changes, reportedly to conjure the idea a smile -- a friendly and approachable look for a brand looking to appeal to consumers globally.
Arnell Group was behind the 2009 redesign. According to AdAge, the design work itself probably cost upwards of $1 million, “But that's just the beginning. The real cost, said an expert, is in removing the old logo everywhere it appears and putting new material up. When you add up all the trucks, vending machines, stadium signage, point-of-sale materials and more around the world, it could easily tally several hundred million dollars, the expert said.”
With any high profile logo redesign there are bound to be haters, and many in the design world were quick to criticize the $1 million price tag for a logo they said didn’t really change all that much. Looking back at the logo from the early 2000s though, it’s clear that a revamp was desperately needed. Despite what the detractors say, the redesigned logo does give Pepsi a more modern appeal.
2. BP logo redesign and rollout -- $200 million
In 2000 BP debuted a radical redesign of its logo. The original logo, a crest bearing the company’s initials in capital letters, was replaced by a sunflower shape (called the Helios mark) done in an modernized palette that nevertheless held true to the brand’s original colors. The updated logo is much friendlier, sunnier, and more modern than the one that preceded it. In collateral introducing the logo, the company wrote: “We’re the helios mark, whose interlocking parts represent the diversity of our people, products and services. Its radiance is a constant reminder of our aspirations and purpose: to affect life on earth in positive and profound ways.“
According to The Telegraph, the logo, created by Landor, cost about £4.6 million, but including the rollout of the logo across properties and collateral, the total cost was £136 million over two years. Though the costly redesign was criticized by some for being overly expensive and even disingenuous, from a marketing perspective it was considered successful in rebranding the company as more environmentally-friendly. That is, at least until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which has forced BP to once again focus on rebranding themselves to escape the negative associations of the past.
3. I Love New York campaign -- $16 million
The I Love New York logo is right up there when it comes to iconic logos. It was designed by Milton Glaser in the late 70s as part of an initiative to increase tourism in the state of New York. Anyone who’s familiar with the history of NYC knows that in the seventies the city didn’t exactly have a reputation as a fun, family-friendly vacation destination. The I love New York logo, which endures to this day, had a hand in changing that reputation and making NYC a top tourist attraction.
In 2007, Saatchi & Saatchi won the contract to take over the I Love New York campaign, with a budget of $16 million. By this point, NYC was already a world-class destination that attracted major tourism every year. The goal of the new campaign was: “To make I LOVE NEW YORK speak to the entire state. To show that the passion and energy present in the city is pervasive throughout every exquisite acre that is New York State.”
As part of the campaign, the I Love New York logo received new treatments that were designed to “breathe life into the iconic logo and showcase that New York is more than just New York City.” The logo treatments were used across print and digital collateral marketed towards specific seasons and New York activities.
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4. BBC -- $1.8 million
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) hasn’t made any dramatic changes to its logo since the late 50s, but the logo has been revamped many times since then. The most recent redesign was in 1997, and even though the logo in its current iteration is now 20 years old, we have to say, it still looks pretty fresh.
The 1997 redesign, which is reported to have cost $1.8 million, marked a move away from the italicization that had existed since the three-box logo’s earliest days. The new logo features simpler, lighter typography against a bolder black. If nothing else, the current BBC logo design is clearly one that can stand the test of time.
5. Tropicana packaging redesign and ad campaign -- $35 million
Tropicana is one of the most well-known juice brands in the world, and its packaging has always been clearly recognizable in the supermarket aisles. What’s not to love about the bright colors, the tropical typography, and the evocative image of an orange with a straw in it? But in 2008-2009 Tropicana decided the old packaging wasn’t cutting it and the company spent $35 million for a new design and a campaign to support it.
The only problem was consumers hated it. The new packaging eliminated the image of the orange in favor of a glass filled with juice. It also revamped the Tropicana logo, which was suddenly flipped vertically, diminishing its prominence on the packaging. The redesign was so radical that customers didn’t even recognize the brand on the shelves anymore.
All in all, the redesign and ad campaign cost Tropicana $35 million, but the brand reportedly lost 20% of its sales over the months that followed the launch, meaning the total cost of the whole debacle was ultimately much higher. The company quickly reverted to the original packaging after less than 2 months.
Pricey logo redesigns and branding campaigns make a splash in the press, and that’s probably all part of the marketing value for the companies in question. Even though a great logo doesn’t have to cost a fortune, there will always be major corporations out there that are willing to invest huge sums in their branding. A logo might cost $1 million, but the value of their trademark? Well, that’s priceless.