Looking at the history of the Marks & Spencer logo since the 1930s reveals that there have been seven logo changes in the last 90 years, but that three of these have taken place since the turn of the millennium.
Either the pace of change has quickened, and the marketing and design teams have been keeping up, ensuring that the brand’s appearance is in step with changes in the stores, or there has just been a lot of internal money washing around looking for a home. It’s hard to tell which really.
Now Debenhams has joined the party with a refreshed logo, all part of chief executive Sergio Bucher’s ‘Debenhams Redesigned’ strategy.
This kicked off, more or less, when the Stevenage store opened in 2017, elements of which are being taken to other parts of the chain and the new Watford store.
It is, apparently, the first time the Debenhams logo has been redesigned in 20 years and the usual rationale about it being modern, contemporary, etc, etc, has accompanied its unveiling.
The question has to be whether it will make any difference to the bottom line? Will it persuade more shoppers to walk through the doors – which is what is needed to ensure Debenhams returns to robust commercial health.
“By all means change a name to reflect shifting times and taste but making much of little will invite scrutiny”
The answer has to be it’s unlikely. It is certainly the case that the advent of the Stevenage store was a step-change for Debenhams and, providing investors keep faith with this one and something similar can be done elsewhere, it is probable it will win back at least some shoppers.
Changing a logo is a very small part of all of this and the trick may be not to trumpet the change too much, but rather to win hearts and minds with improved stores, new and refurbished.
It is also no accident John Lewis (& Partners) has been busy changing the look and feel of its logo, which it finally revealed yesterday, along with a revamped Oxford Street store.
Once again, the temptation is to give a shrug of the shoulders about the logo. It is the stores that do the talking and the changes wrought in-store on Oxford Street, rather than the external face, are what will determine the fortunes of the Middle England favourite.
By all means change a name to reflect shifting times and taste but making much of little will invite potentially unwelcome scrutiny. Logos need to change from time to time, but they are not central. Shoppers will still know who the retailer is. The store’s the thing.