Baskin-Robbins severely downgraded its typeface for reasons that appear to be based around a more stately visual look elsewhere within the brand, one that allows more consistency across the board. Per comments to CNN Business
, company president Jason Maceda implied that the company needed to essentially grow up:
Baskin-Robbins’ leadership team heard that some customers felt very attached to the brand, which they associated with childhood trips with parents or grandparents. But they also heard that there were “some opportunities in being more relevant,” Maceda said.
It’s important for brands like Baskin-Robbins to gain traction with younger consumers—not just people who remember it from their youth—so they have new customers coming in.
While I can appreciate a good, consistent branding approach, this is a trap when your logo is absolutely iconic, and can end up being a severe brand downgrade if not handled properly.
One example that comes to mind here is the logo for the kids’ channel Nickelodeon. In that case, the network essentially psyched itself out. Per a 2009 Variety article
According to Cyma Zarghami, prexy of Nick and MTV Networks’ Kids and Family Group, the decision to streamline the network identities came after they started putting all of the channels’ logos on the same business card—and decided that it looked like a mess.
“We wanted to clean it up and allow Nick to be the stamp on all of these channels,” she said.
It was one of the great branding failures of the 21st century—taking an iconic parent brand that was playful, functional, and flexible, and essentially killing it off because the company could not figure out how to do that across multiple brands.
I’m not saying brands can never change here—far from it—but I do think that if you’re going to jettison a good brand, you need to ensure that the approach matches the old one as you modernize. If you’re going to commit to something more “adult” in nature, drop the subliminal messaging entirely. If you don’t want to do that, pick a better typeface, or don’t worry quite so much about the typeface matching your brand language elsewhere.