rp Reacts: Debranding

Updated on
May 22, 2024

Our team weighs in on brands minimalizing their visual identities.

Brands are simplifying their fonts and trimming down their logos to follow the debranding trend. Bolder imagery and less detail means these brand identities are optimized for digital screens—a benefit for companies like Magnolia Bakery, which is going DTC, and PBS Kids which needs a clear presence on multiple devices. But with all the potential benefits—of course—come some potential pitfalls. Our team breaks down the pros and cons of debranding here:

People are craving simplicity in their lives more-so than ever before; so for brands to reduce the “noise” found in a mark and logo makes a ton of sense. Simplifying visual identities also inherently leads to more accessible design. We live in a world that has for years barely acknowledged a huge part of our communities and treated their needs as secondary. Intentionally simplifying brands allows for easier readability, color variation options, and more. It also becomes more successful in a mobile format which tends to be a more accessible device for those in the disabled community to use.

Carrie Pickering, Digital Producer

I think the debranding we are experiencing aligns with the ebb and flow of simplicity vs. eccentricity in design as a whole. On the heels of the era of white walls and capsule wardrobes filled with solids and neutral colors, it's no wonder big name brands decided to trim down a bit. I do foresee this trend sticking around for the next 5-10 years. 

Other examples include Tasbasco, GAP (which lasted only six days before the decision was reversed), and Baskins Robbins. Another interesting example is Burger King, who debranded in the last year and simultaneously leaned into a throwback look/feel.

Lauren Holt, Account Director

The burger King logo from 1994, 2000, and 2021 is displayed to compare the differences between the three. The logos in 1994 and 2021 are very similar.
Read our thoughts on Burger King's new logo.

This kind of rebranding may not be for everyone. Well-established companies can tweak their logo without too much fear  because of the strong associations customers have with their brand identity and products. Smaller or newer brands, on the other hand, may not have that same level of identity, so it can be more difficult to make those types of changes. The investment required for rebranding could also be a barrier for small businesses. Although these companies are rebranding for the digital space, they have to be consistent—rebranding all touch points including physical stores to reflect the shift.

Courtney Chauvenne, Associate Director of Social Media

Simplifying a brand is trendy, but it can also be dangerous. In a rush to stay relevant, brands risk losing their identity and looking like everyone else. The switch that luxury designer brands have made is a good example. Not only are these logos beginning to get lost in the shuffle, but it can be disappointing for customers who have a nostalgic attachment to the detail of the original branding. There are definitely pros to debranding, but businesses should be careful not to take it too far and lose their personality.

Jesse Spear, Marketing Manager

A list of designer brands is shown before and after they have debranded.

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