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Which Brand Should Not Have Changed Its Logo?

In one of my brand management classes during MBA, I learned this concept called Brand Associations. To explain the concept, my professor shared an example of Disney. Today, I'm going to use the same concept to share about a brand which lost its relevance due to meddling with one of its associations i.e. its logo. The brand is none other than our beloved Cartoon Network.

Brand Changed Logo

The Cartoon Network Logo

A Peek into the Logo's History

The first logo was used from 1992–2004. It had the brand name ‘Cartoon Network’, which was written in a chessboard-like 2x7 matrix. Each cell was either black or white & contained a letter of the opposite colour:

Cartoon Network Old Logo

The second logo was used from 2004–2010. It cut short the brand name to its initials which were displayed in 2 tilted cubes containing ‘C’ and ‘N’. Each cube had its shadow and the brand name came at the bottom:

Cartoon Network previous logo

The third logo was used from 2010 and runs to date. It is quite similar to the second logo except for the fact that it is more 2-D than 3-D. The shadows of the cube were removed and the letters were no more tilted:

CN New Logo

What's Wrong with New Logo?

So, what’s wrong with changing the brand logo? Companies do it all the time. Right?

Wrong! There’s a difference between those companies and Cartoon Network. The difference is that of the industry Cartoon Network operates in.

Cartoon Network is a part of the Entertainment Industry. That too specifically kids entertainment industry. This industry relies so much on the brand association which gets carried forward from one generation to another.

Think about cartoons. Your parents watched them, you watched them, your kids will watch them. Yes, new characters will keep coming. New ideas will keep flooding the plot lines. But, the association with the brand will remain the same.

Tom and Jerry came then, comes now and will come in the future. The quality of animations might change, the plot content might change, but the association should not, in any case. If that changes, the game is lost.

Tom and Jerry

Many of you must have watched Cartoon Network as kids. You must have seen the logo playing with its characters during the commercial breaks.

The association of its audience was as deeply tied to its logo as to its cartoons.

CN Animated Logo

It was observed that during the time when Cartoon Network came up with its new logo, it also introduced many new cartoon characters. This was a major blow to its business.

Two big associations being broken at once. But does that mean no company in the entertainment industry should mess with its logo?

Certainly not the case! Check out the Disney logo:

Disney Logo

Do you notice anything? All this while, despite the change in the logo, the brand managed to keep one thing common across all the logo designs. Yes, Mickey Mouse! Why? Because that is what the audience has associated Disney with, since forever!

Any brand that takes away the factors that result in building the association for its consumers is doomed to fail. Cartoon Network was a victim of the same tragedy. Hence, I believe, its logo shouldn’t have changed.


I posted this originally as an answer to a Quora question. Due to the response there, I thought it might help some of you who are particularly interested in brand management or marketing roles.

If you want more posts like these, do let me know in the comments.

You can also explore the Marketing Category of the blog. Thank you for reading :)

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