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Social media: The death of designers

 Social media: The death of designers

Social media affects the fate of designers and famous brands alike. It provides a marketing tool that is important for both pre- and post-research strategies. As graphic designers play a vital role in building brand identity, we should be well aware of the challenges social media presents.

First, we will look at rebranding mistakes that have seen designers’ work attacked due to the power of social media


The Gap fiasco is the best example to explain the power of social media. It took the social media masses just a few days to overturn the newly implemented logo. Common people vented their dislike of the new logo all over the internet. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter were overrun with people saying how much they hated the redesign. After much damage control (if you’d like to call it that) the old logo was re-implemented.

Pick n Pay

On our own shores, Pick n Pay had a major rebranding saga.

Once again, designers and non-designers alike showed their frustration over the implementation of the new logo. Bizcommunity placed a poll on what the masses thought of the R110-million rebranding project. 32.83% though the rebranding was a winning success, 15.07% were not sure and a whopping 52.1% did not like it. Pick n Pay’s re-branding campaign was a risky business for the retailer. The campaign was more than just a new logo and different fonts – it signalled a new business direction. Pick n Pay rode the wave and stood its ground, hoping consumers would adjust, and eventually they did. The question is, are such risks worth it at the end of the day?


Then there was BP.

BP’s logo redesign was not as disliked as the above-mentioned brands, but soon after the massive oil spill, the logo got its fair share of attacks. BP was largely condemned by people on the internet. Social activist group, Greenpeace UK, attempted to tarnish the corporate image of BP by setting up a logo design contest to ridicule the logo. Plenty of copy cats followed suit, and you can guess what happened… damage, damage, damage. This raises yet another question…Does social media give supreme power over the power of brand?


Where art thou, Pepsi?

Steve Tobak from The Corner once said: “A 10 year-old could have drawn Pepsi’s new logo for a buck instead of the million or so the company reportedly paid. It’s supposed to be a smile, but it looks more like a red, white and blue Pacman to me.”

Pepsi’s new logo is a variation of different smile-like logos for different products. This logo has received many attacks on the net, and the campaign makes Pepsi’s ‘rebranding disaster’ an example of what not to do. The social media world is still attacking the rebranding campaign. Pepsi redesigns once every ten years. Its competitor, Coca-Cola, has kept its look similar to what it started out with. Who has the better strategy?

So, what does this have to do with designers?

Graphic designers have become very much obliged to meeting consumers’ likes and dislikes. We no longer answer to just the client, marketing manager and research groups. Less qualified people have enough power to rework your design, or worse yet, overturn your work entirely. This is why I feel that social media has limited the creative skills and approach of graphic designers.

Or has it?

I actually don’t think it’s the final frontier for designers. Yes, we have to answer to less qualified people, but aren’t we designing for them? We just have to understand the market. The issue here is that we don’t know the marketing process. The designer’s input is usually brushed aside. Maybe the gap should be closed between the suits and the strangely-dressed (that’s us, by the way). When research is done, doesn’t it make sense that the designer is there too, to soak up the feel of the brand?

Really understanding the market’s needs is not just the job of the research team – the designer needs to be introduced to, get acquainted with, and then fall in love with the brand.


With all that said, I think this new development is extremely exciting. We have an opportunity to really get involved in the ‘creating’ process. We need to stop complaining and live up to the new challenges.

  • I’d like to know from you if you think we truly are obliged to consumer’s likes and dislikes?
    Does the act of ignoring our creative ideas and theories for the sake or customer satisfaction, leave graphic designers in a strange dilemma?
  • Are there other ways that creative rebranding can happen that I haven’t mentioned?

Please leave your thoughts below

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