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Old is gold: consumer reaction to the rebranding of J&J, Burberry and Fanta

Anna Kupriyanova
When big brands change their visual identity it rarely goes unnoticed. A recent revamp of the Johnson & Johnson logo quite literally took over our work group chat, and now here we are.
A case study is in order!
If you were around in 2017/2018, you must remember some version of this image:
That was a time in history now known as the "sans serif invasion" or "blanding". The sans serif font drops the intricate design elements in favour of simple, clean lines, which make it look modern and sophisticated. Or bland and boring.

And so, a few years ago brands changed their logos only to end up looking the same. Uh-oh.

Times move forward, trends come and go, but what happens to consumer insights?
We are interested in the likeability of old vs. new logos.

We spotted three big brands that recently updated their logos and ran a study.
Enter: Johnson & Johnson, Burberry (yes, they changed their logo again), and Fanta.
Stimuli: Old and new logo of Johnson & Johnson, Burberry and Fanta.
Target: United Kingdom, male, female, from 18 to 54 years, 100 respondents per logo, 300 respondents in total.
Research Solution: Rank it — a ready-to-use research solution by Fastuna (online survey).
Old is gold. At least at first glance…Let's take a look at our results. Are they what you expected?

Johnson & Johnson

Consumer ranking of the old and new J&J logos - Fastuna's research results
For Johnson & Johnson, the old logo "has the attraction of familiarity", the new one is "clearer and easier to read". J&J is going down the "sans serif" route with its' updated logo, although people heavily prefer the recognisable cursive.

But we didn't just ask which logo people preferred. We wanted an evaluation of the key characteristics that define a good logo:
Easily recognisable
Highly memorable
Relevant over time
Fits the brand
+1 extra special characteristic. We wanted to know how Generic each logo is according to the consumers.
The traditional cursive J&J logo establishes its' dominance over the updated version in all the metrics. It also proves to be less generic than the new one. No surprise there. However, it is not maxed out at any of the "good" metrics either. Sure, it's very recognisable and somewhat memorable, but how could it not be? The old J&J logo has been around for 130 years. As for the other aspects such as relevance over time, attractiveness and a fit for the brand - these outperformed the new logo, but they are still far from a perfect score.
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Consumer ranking of the old and new Burberry logos - Fastuna's research results
For Burberry, the old logo is "unmistakable, clean and modern", the new one is "striking" and "shows more story". This rating is not so black and white. The brand is back on its' old-fashioned horse, but it seems consumers appreciate the simple and straightforward logo that has been around for the past few years.
See anything odd here? First of all, the metrics for both logos are underwhelming, but that is not the most surprising thing about this chart.

The sans serif, modern, simple version of the logo ranked LESS generic than the Equestrian Knight Design one. With the horse! And all the intricate details! The iconic design that Burberry brought back is seen as more attractive but also more generic than its clean-lined predecessor. Interestingly, the new logo is also seen as a worse fit for the brand:
I don't understand the relevance of the knight to the Burberry brand. - Female, 51


Consumer ranking of the old and new Fanta logos - Fastuna's research results
For Fanta, the old logo is "iconic and eye-catching", the new one is "bolder, but generic". What a ratio! 94/100 people voted for the traditional logo. Clearly, the removal of the orange doesn't sit well with the consumers. Almost all the respondents mentioned the importance of the colour to the brand's identity:
The other option is very dull and doesn't make the link to fruit flavours. - Female, 51
We saw it in the general likeability score and we see it here again. People are really, really attached to the old Fanta logo:
It captures the true essence of the Fanta spirit. - Male, 46
Speaking of fizzy drinks and consumer insights. This year Pepsi also redesigned its logo - see our case study right here. They returned to the old-school aesthetic, which people loved. Perhaps going retro is the new trend?
An overwhelming consumer resistance to the updated logos is understandable. Forming new neural pathways is not an easy job! Although Burberry's new logo that borrows from it's traditional design didn't reach a particularly high score, it received much warmer welcome than the ultra modern J&J and Fanta logos that leave little space for a sense of familiarity. Seems like it does pay off to incorporate nostalgic elements into visual identity after all.
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