The 10 Biggest Brand Revamps of 2018

New logos, new typefaces and even new names abound

Toys R Us, Uber and WW are just three of the brands that changed up their looks this year.
Headshot of Diana Pearl

When it comes to looks, some of the biggest brands aren’t ending 2018 the way they started it. This year saw several rebrands: from the extreme, which included name changes and unrecognizable logos, to more subtle facelifts that help breathe new life into a storied brand. Here are 10 of the most notable rebranding efforts from the past year.

Uber

Uber debuted its black-and-white symbol, a circular shape with an indent on the side, in February 2016. But as the months went on, Uber found that many customers didn’t really associate that logo with the brand, according to Peter Markatos, executive director of brand. That’s when they started thinking about a complete redesign. “It doesn’t make sense to build more equity into something that people don’t understand,” he said.

The company announced a full rebrand in September, shifting to new, simpler logo: “Uber” in a custom sans-serif font. Its in-house design team worked with brand consultancy Wolff Olins and type foundry MCKL to create a refreshed in-app experience, complete with new colors.

Lyft

Lyft also underwent a rebrand in 2018, though not as extensive as its primary competitor’s. Lyft kept its curvy typeface logo and its color palette, but introduced softer versions of its signature black, pink and white. Another shift came with the introduction of a new custom font, Lyft Pro. Jesse McMillin, vp and creative director for Lyft, said redesign aimed to keep it simple, use contrasts and maintain the brand’s “irreverent, fun, playful” spirit.

Bank of America

Bank of America’s refresh was a blink-and-you-miss-it sort of switch. The typeface is the most obvious difference: It went from thinner, sentence-case font in a lighter blue to an all-caps, more block-like font in navy. The brand’s American flag-inspired logo also changed, with a darker blue color and more white space between the lines. While subtle, the change is notably the financial institution’s first since it was founded two decades ago with the merger of NationsBank and BankAmerica.

Ogilvy

This year saw the dawn of a whole new Ogilvy 70 years after its founding. The legendary agency officially dropped “& Mather” from its names this year. It also introduced a new logo, color scheme (with a brighter shade of red acting as the brand’s signature), website, organizational design, consultancy practice, digital platform and employee video, the latter of which it broadcasted to its 15,000 employees on launch day.

Joann

Jo-Ann Fabrics shortened its name to Joann in an attempt to educate consumers that the store carries much more than just fabric and is a worthy competitor to stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Steve Miller, svp, marketing and ecommerce, called the redesign “a big opportunity to let people know that ‘Hey, we sell everything that the other craft stores sell.'”

Weight Watchers

Or rather, as it’s now known, WW. With the help of its most prolific celebrity spokesperson, Oprah Winfrey, the weight loss empire debuted its new logo, branding and name in September. The brand’s new tagline, “Wellness that Works,” is intended to represent the brand’s renewed focus: health, fitness and feeling your best, rather than losing weight.

“We are becoming the world’s partner in wellness,” said CEO Mindy Grossman. “No matter what your goal is—to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a positive mind-set or all of the above—we will deliver science-based solutions that fit into people’s lives.”

Toys R Us

Sadly, the Toys R Us rebrand never actually saw the light of day—the company shuttered its remaining stores before it could roll out Lippincott’s new branding. The agency approached Toys R Us after it filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, seeking to modernize the brand while still keeping the elements for which it was best known, like its signature backwards “R.” The work is now memorialized in a case study on Lippincott’s website.

Classpass

It took a year’s worth of work to create Classpass’s new look, which dropped this summer. The comprehensive rebrand debuted a new logo and typeface (fittingly called Circuit), as well as a recommitted ethos for the brand. Greg Hathaway, ClassPass creative director, said the fitness startup saw the rebrand as the start of a new era and an opportunity to connect with a broader customer base. It was a way to “tell a new market, who has no idea who we are, who we are at ClassPass in a really interesting way that breaks through,” he said.

BuzzFeed News

In July BuzzFeed launched BuzzFeedNews.com—and with it, a new, more formal look than the media company’s main online hub. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in a staff email that the separate site aims to “elevate its look, feel and user experience.” The BuzzFeed News logo sports a thick serif typeface, and the site features a hero story and a bar highlighting the trending topics of the moment.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp may have started as a newsletter service, but over the past several years, the platform has expanded into landing pages, social media ads, and more. That’s why the brand wanted a visual refresh that better represented its multi-faceted offerings. That came at the end of September and included a slight name change from MailChimp to Mailchimp, as well as a new color scheme, typeface, logo, and focus on photography and illustration. But don’t worry: Freddie the Chimp is still around.

Bonus: IHOP

Though not an actual rebrand, IHOP’s temporary renaming to IHOB—the International House of Burgers—was arguably the most talked-about brand switch-ups of 2018. It all started when IHOP’s Twitter account started replacing all Ps to Bs in its tweets, steadily dropping stronger hints until the not-so-official name change was unveiled in June. It was all a marketing ploy for the chain’s new line of steakburgers. “IHOP makes world-famous pancakes, so we felt like the best way to convince them that we are as serious about our new line of Ultimate Steakburgers as we are about our pancakes, was to change our name to IHOB,” IHOP CMO Brad Haley said in a statement at the time. It may sound crazy, but the chain’s burger sales did quadruple.


@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.