While I continue working on Part 3 of our “rescue your brand” series, here’s an interesting little footnote about the evolution of logos as brands routinely try to refresh their image. The above photo (hat tip to PSFK’s Jeff Squires) shows the evolution of the Pepsi Cola logo.

Now, I am not against updating corporate logos every once in a while, as long as the change brings value to the equation – maybe the old logo was too flat or austere, maybe it needed to have some life or positive energy injected into it – but all too often, companies fall prey to some creative agencies’ claims that in order to refresh their brand, they need to refresh their logos as well.* This is not always the case.

* Let it also be said – since this comes up occasionally in discussions I have with people in the real world – that a brand is not a logo. A logo is merely an emblem. A brand, as the combination of a company’s identity, reputation, value proposition and customers’ expectations is much more… you know, complex.

Now, I am not saying that Pepsi’s choice to change its logo on a regular basis is a bad thing. I am simply using Pepsi’s M.O. as a conversation catalyst. In a way, there’s something kind of cool about a company that changes its logo every decade or so: Each new logo is like a cultural milestone – a snapshot if you will, of that decade’s graphic flavor, and how tastes change over time. But I guess once you get past the cool time capsule thing, you kind of have to wonder: Has each change in logo actually resulted in some kind of benefit for the Pepsi Cola company? Has the Pepsi brand been strengthened by every new logo design? Has each new logo helped boost sales of Pepsi Cola over time? Has the company’s chronic change of emblem and packaging art had a measurable impact on the company’s bottom-line? Perhaps it has. I don’t know. It’s an open question, and one which probably cannot be answered without also looking at Coca Cola’s own (and very different) logo evolution throughout the years. (Hint: It hasn’t changed much at all.) Which of these two brands has been consistently stronger over the years: Pepsi or Coca Cola?

So, where do you guys stand on corporate logo redesigns? Do they strengthen brands or weaken them? Do they have any effect at all? Are they exercises in brand revitalization or… futility?

Food for thought.