Logo Simplification Blog

Botox For Brands: The Logic Behind Logo Simplification

Remember when the Pringles guy had a monocle? (Spoiler: He actually never had one.) But in this case, it’s not The Mandela Effect, it’s the pervasive simplification of logos that has started to blur the memories of consumers. Less is more until it’s not, like when they made Mr. Pringles bald and Johnson & Johnson went from timeless to…Sans Serif. 


Logo simplification has become the latest cyclical branding trend resulting in more and more logos becoming minimalist. Though some brands can benefit from minimalism, others risk making the mistake of debranding instead of rebranding. 


We’ve gathered four brands that have simplified or oversimplified their logos for the sake of modernism, and you can decide if it’s worked in their favor.

Johnson & Johnson
Last fall, after 135 years, ol’ J&J unveiled their rebrand with a new minimalist logo. Goodbye Script, Hello Sans Serif! The original logo featured the cursive signature of the company co-founder James Wood Johnson. For many, the recognizable, OG logo gave nostalgia, a je ne sais quoi, quiet luxury for babies, if you will. The reason for J&J’s logo simplification was the need for branding that translates effectively in the digital landscape. A reasonable change for a brand almost one and half decades old. 


Mr. P has had six makeovers since the brand’s launch, but nothing could have prepared us for this one. To mark their 30th anniversary in 2021, the UK made Mr. P bald, but gave him eyebrows! This logo simplification had the internet divided. While Pringles described his glow up in a press release as “youthful” and eye-catching“, the internet had gone as far as calling Mr. Julius Pringles, King Bob-omb from Super Mario. At least he’s still handsome!


Another brand that simplified its logo during the pandemic was where the healthy pets go. And when the famous blue cat and red dog were eliminated from the Petco logo, consumers were outraged. How dare they! The brand also eliminated the crimson red color from its logo to navy blue. This simplification was part of Petco’s rebrand to “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co” from “Petco Animal Supplies.” Amidst the backlash of removing Ruff and Mews from the logo, Petco reassured concerned customers that the animals are “here to stay”.

One last example from our personal portfolio. When our longtime partners at the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation swapped out “Virginia” for “National” it allowed them to finally take credit for many years of nationwide leadership and expertise in the public safety space. But being the pragmatic marketers we are (humble brag) we made sure to emphasize legacy branding elements in their new identity. For this was no ordinary rebrand, it was also a rename, but that doesn’t mean you throw out years of brand equity and confuse your original audience. That’s something we hope other brands remember next time they’re considering a rebrand that strips all personality to chase a fad.

Logo simplification or rebranding is botox for brands. It may look good now, but give it a few years. Everything looks sleek, clean, and aesthetically pleasing but little by little some brands start to blend in and others will try to be unique again. 


So what’s the reason? Why do brands make the ultimate sacrifice to transform their logos to fit the times? Exactly that. Simpler makes an old brand feel current, modern, and captures the attention of younger generations. The digital landscape has also drastically changed. Brands have to worry about their logo looking good everywhere from TV app icons to tiny navigation bars on mobile sites.


In short, once a trend takes root, it’s difficult to move out of it again, but when done right, it can be magnetic.

The King Agency is an award-winning marketing agency offering a full suite of communications services including advertising, branding, digital, and strategic marketing, at any scale. Based in Richmond, Virginia, with offices in Atlanta and Virginia Beach, The King Agency has been helping turn businesses into award-winning brands for more than 25 years. To learn more visit thekingagency.com or email hello@thekingagency.com