This is a story of evolution. In today's blog post, we'll consider the legacy light bulb in the Empower Ideas logo of the last decade, and how it's more recently evolved into a heart, in order to represent the brand for the next decade. From there, we'll zoom out and explore the lessons from this example that can apply to your own brand.
I launched Empower Ideas from my campus apartment as a freshman in college, as a way to earn a little extra money between classes. The very first paid site project I did was called KidzBlankets and was for a sweet lady who paid me $500 to create her an e-commerce store on which to sell her homemade blankets. I built the site using software called Zencart that probably doesn't still exist today. With nearly zero maintenance, that site stayed online and worked just fine for over five years before that sweet lady decided to end her hobby and pulled the plug on the project.
In those days, I called myself "The Jazzle Video and Web Services" with the tagline "Jazz it up!" I might have been in college, but I was definitely not a marketing major.
Eventually, I realized just how terrible this name really was and began to consider new ideas. Unlike The Jazzle, I did some rudimentary user testing of the new name. What came out of several months of contemplation, feedback, and tweaking was the name "Empower Ideas." The goal of the ethos that the name was meant to convey was the idea that we would help our clients find their best marketing ideas and help make them real. We wanted to literally empower our clients to find that big idea and execute it.
From this passionate search for new ideas came the idea of a lightbulb, modeled after old cartoons where a bulb would "click" on as it appeared on top of the character's head. The orange circle encapsulating the lightbulb represented that glow in our logo.
For nearly ten years, Empower Ideas cast its orange glow upon dozens of projects ranging from small landing pages to complex CMS-driven applications. But no matter the projects, the logo was mostly constant, with only small changes to the typography to keep it looking as contemporary as possible as design trends came and went.
Through those ten years, Empower Ideas was mostly just me. I did the design and development. But that held the company back quite a bit. After all, I was my own bottleneck.
After a stint as a project manager at an NYC ad agency, I realized I could do better than that. It was time to evolve the company from a hobby to a true agency. It was time to focus on the management aspect that I excelled at and let designs and developers focus on designing and developing, respectively.
So I started to make some changes to the company. I recruited folks to help out with new projects, rebuilt the website from scratch, established processes and sustainable cost structures, and began recruiting clients. Throughout all of that, I realized it was time for a change in direction for the Empower Ideas brand. While the thought of collaborating with companies to find and execute on ideas was still alive, it was so much more than that now. And I wanted the logo to express that.
We considered the audience for the change and the messaging we were sharing as part of the larger brand picture. It's become a bit of a trend for Silicon Valley to declare that all products are designed and built with love. We came up with the analogy of writing a love letter to the world. We wanted to be the source of the love with which those products were designed and built. When we collaborate with our clients, we can execute on the best ideas in the world.
And so, the heart was born. Simple, humble, fresh, and powerful. It is our new symbol, proudly saying that we recognize you and your problems, we care, and we will work to solve them. We believe in you and your solutions, and we want to share them with the world. We know what we do, and we're a team rather than a single individual. And we love our clients and treat them like the people they are, not like a number or a nobody. That is what the heart stands for.
But aside from the messaging, the heart has other differences from the lightbulb too. For starters, it's much flatter and simpler. The old lightbulb featured subtle shadows and a 3D effect around the bulb's base, and all that is gone with the heart. It's a simple almost barren white heart shape. Why? Well, because it's on trend with other logos and as a design company it's important for us to fit in. But there's practical reasons as well. It scales super easily, looking equally as good as a favicon in your browser as it does blown up as a billboard. It is a single color, no shading to worry about, which can matter for some types of printing. And it's recognizable, since hearts aren't usually bright orange.
Our logo highlights how a rebrand can be successful by building off an existing brand legacy without trashing it. While we changed the icon and the order, we also kept key parts of the old logo, including the typeface, weight, and, most importantly, the color. (We chose a very distinctive orange for our logo, and it has never changed.)
By holding onto the color, we kept a key element of the old logo that acts as connecting tissue for anyone who might be used to and comfortable with the old logo. We are unapologetically using the new logo, but we are also not missing an opportunity to say "This is still the Empower Ideas you know and love!" This is, in our view, the right way to approach legacy brand redesigns; that is, update the logo to adhere to more recent design ideas, but hold on to one or two elements from the existing logo that might "carry over" and help to form a bridge between the old design and the new for anyone who might b seeing your logo.
Redesigns tend to happen at different paces depending on your industry. For instance, some logos in fast moving industries (think tech) might sit around for just a couple of years while others such as the Sears Mail Order catalog have been constant for nearly 100 years. It's up to you to decide what to determine when you'll most benefit from a new logo, while we're here to help you sort through the various workflows.