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Should customers be involved in the decision making for radical logo change?

Bingley, United Kingdom, 29 June 2016 – Within the past year,  big global brands such as Google, Instagram and Netflix have updated their logo – an activity which according to recent research published by Emerald Group Publishing, can be risky for companies if their customers aren’t involved in the rebranding process.

A company logo is often seen as an extension of the organization’s values and what they stand for; it is used to communicate brand image, gain attention, increase recognition and differentiation of the brand as well as provoking emotional responses.  The research article ‘Surprise! We changed the logo’ from the Journal of Product & Brand Management, is the first study to focus on the link between familiarity, attachment and surprise encountered by stakeholders associated with radical logo change.  

As this research suggests, when Google implemented its re-brand, customers were not overly surprised, as the Google logo changes daily to reflect the news of the day.  However, this is not always the case, as the three authors of this research, Julien Grobert, Marianela Fornerino and Caroline Cuny - explained:

“In 2014, the famous French business school, Grenoble Ecole de Management radically changed its logo and as we were working for the school, we decided to study this change to gain a better understanding of the impact a radical logo change has on current and potential students.

“The results from our research demonstrate that the majority of both current and potential students preferred the old logo.  Moreover, the element of surprise students felt when they learned about the logo change had an important impact on the perception of the new logo’s congruence: the more negative the surprise, the less congruent with the brand the new logo is perceived to be.

“We hope that the results from our study will be interesting to large companies such as GAP or Starbucks and influence them to work with their current customers when considering a logo change.”

This study explains how organizations should manage a logo change.  By carefully thinking through and planning the change process, an organization should be able to maintain a positive surprise effect amongst its customers.

The full research article ‘Surprise! We changed the logo!’ Is free to access until 6 July and can be accessed here:  

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About the Authors:

Caroline Cuny
Caroline Cuny, PhD in Cognitive psychology (Lyon 2 University France) is a Marketing Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management. After undertaking fundamental research in the field of human cognition, she worked for three years in a big multinational company (FMCG) where she led the team of human and cognitive sciences research. Her research interests are in the field of consumer psychology in general, advertising effectiveness, and implicit (non conscious) and psychophysiological measurements of behaviour (eye-tracking, consumer neuroscience). 

Marianela Fornerino
Marianela Fornerino PhD (Grenoble University France) is a Marketing Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management. Her research interests are in methodology, sensory marketing, social marketing and brand management.

Julien Grobert
Julien Grobert PhD in Marketing (Grenoble University France) is an associate professor of Marketing at IAE school of Management of Toulouse. After having done his PhD with a the French Bank Credit Agricole, his research interests are in the field of sensory marketing and communication with real companies (Crédit Agricole, SNCF, Du pareil au Même).

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About Emerald Publishing:
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Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management. Today, we continue to nurture fresh thinking in applied fields where we feel we can make a real difference, now also including health and social care, education and engineering. We publish over 300 journals, more than 2,500 books and over 1,500 case studies, via our dedicated research platform


Nicolle Vare
PR Executive
Emerald Publishing Limited
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