If you are the average person, you probably didn’t notice that Dell has been using a variety of logos. This is a common situation in companies that have undergone a period of rapid international growth, such as those in the technology fields. Just three years ago, the company had an astounding eight hundred different creative and branding agencies working on the Dell case, each with a similar but slightly different spin on the brand. Although Dell has been successful despite these in-congruencies—it currently sits at the thirty-eighth place on the Fortune 500 list of companies—the brand had been on the decline for the better part of five years. It clearly was time for more uniformity.
The result is hardly radical. In fact, we suspect that it will be quietly rolled out with only a minimum amount of attention, mostly from design geeks like us. A blue circle encloses the Dell name in the same color. The letters have been subtly redrawn to be a little taller and fit more neatly in the circle, but otherwise there is no revolution here. You probably recognize the tilted ‘E’ that is the most recognizable and consistently used aspect of the former brand(s).
In the past, the lettering was a little wider, but the real difference was that the logo was placed in a variety of not-necessarily-well-branded situations. It was sometimes blue (a variety of blues, in fact), and sometimes silver or even glowing. Sometimes it was solid; other times, it had dots or a three dimensional metallic shine. Color has also been standardized, with a clear blue that is just a little brighter than the former blue hue.
Dell no longer is contracting with hundreds of creative agencies, a move that will save them money as well as headaches. Instead, a central creative team has worked on this new brand with a single design agency and will be responsible for promoting and protecting it all over the world. The brand will be subtly repositioned in a way that resonates with marketing conscious modern consumers.
Is this logo design worth the three years it took to create it? It’s important to remember that Dell is working with hundreds of different markets and cultures. Much of the time was likely dedicated to examining what parts of the brand were working in this disparate group of settings.
The old logo was no design masterpiece, but it was a well-recognized part of the brand, one that had been with the technology company for decades. However, sometimes it is time for a change. If you have a universally accepted brand that it losing its ability to communicate with your target audience, completely overhauling your visual identity is probably not a good idea. Instead, a little ‘tweak’ here and there can be used to reframe your vision and inject a more modern ethos into your brand. Dell has shown here how this can be done in the most subtle and unobtrusive way possible.