To update existing vintage logos, you must identify the necessary elements of the older logo and reimagine those logo elements within current design needs, like infinitely scalable vector images. When done skillfully, an updated vintage logo represents history and experience but also conveys that an organization is relevant and with the times.
“It’s about simplifying an idea from the company’s past,” says Giffrow. She specifically calls out the IBM logo, a symbol that went from being very busy to its current incarnation as three clear letters. Over time, the logo became simpler but simultaneously more recognizable.
Sometimes a company will want to use older logos to highlight how long they’ve been around. If an organization is celebrating a big anniversary, for instance, bringing back the original logo and putting it on celebratory merchandise can be a good way to stoke nostalgia and highlight the company’s brand story from the past.
For older logos that include intricate graphic design elements, ensure they’re in a setting where those elements are all clear and visible. Hand-lettering and older forms of typography can get lost in the visual shuffle. Logos should always let the viewer sense what your brand is about without making them squint.
Tips for contemporary vintage style logos.
Some vintage logos aren’t old at all, but they want to call to mind a specific era. A barbershop might want to capture the feel of an early 20th-century tonsorial parlor or a record store might want to look like it’s straight out of 1967. To do that, a logo maker has to dive into the design trends and conventions of the time period they want to evoke. As much as possible, examine publications and artifacts that you want to emulate for design inspiration. Simply making a logo look weathered is not enough. “A lot of people will make it look worn,” says designer Ashley Lippard, “but that’s just an add-on.”