Recently, a large, well-established Northeast supermarket chain changed its logo. According to a news release, after extensive customer research, the company announced a redesign of its “iconic” logo along with a rollout of advanced technologies and in-store features.

It was more than just a redesign. It’s a completely different symbol, different corporate colors and slightly different typography—only in the typography is there any hint of the former brand identity.

In the news release, the company claims to be at the beginning of an evolution that includes planned innovations. They say that they listened to customers and the new look shows customers that changes are underway.

Interestingly, I found some dialogue online about this particular logo change. Many of the people weighing in were graphic designers and marketing professionals. Opinions varied widely both in terms of design and the underlying decision to make the change. Some folks liked it, but many didn’t.

It was interesting to learn that the parent company is using the same symbol for another grocery brand it owns in the mid-Atlantic states, which goes against the basic concept of branding. A logo should be the visual representation of the company brand, and should be inseparable from the brand. Using the same symbol for two different brands indicates that it doesn’t have a strong tie to either one.

Changing a logo is an important business decision that shouldn’t be entered into lightly or frequently. Some experts recommend that you change your logo no more than once every 20 or so years. That’s a long time, so when you design your logo make sure it’s something you like.

There can be good reasons to change your logo, in particular if your current logo no longer fits new products or services you offer or if the image has become dated.

Some things that you can do to change your logo without losing your identity:

  • Find a good designer who will work with you to determine the image you want to project.
  • Consider simply updating your current logo without redoing it completely to retain brand recognition.
  • Steer clear of overly trendy designs, colors and patterns so you won’t need to change it again any time soon.

If you are leaning toward taking the plunge and redesigning your logo, be sure to consider all costs. You’ll need to change your signage, stationery, business cards, vehicles, advertising, employee attire, Web site, invoices and any computer files that have your logo.

Be sure to give your customers a heads-up that a change is on the way. You might even get customer input into the redesign to find out what image resonates with your primary customer base. Making customers feel like they are part of the process will help them feel like they’re part of your company and will help ensure that your identity doesn’t get lost in the transition.

The author, a freelance writer, is public affairs specialist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Amherst, Mass., and was previously director of communications at the Mass. Dept. of Food & Agriculture. Read past marketing columns by this author online at http://farmmarketing.blogspot.com.