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Why new fashion designers at old fashion brands are revamping familiar logos

The curious case of uncannily similar sans-serif logos showing up at Celine, Burberry, and Calvin Klein.

What do Celine, Burberry and Calvin Klein have in common? Only the fact that, in recent times, they have rebranded themselves only to end up with uncannily similar sans-serif logos: bold, black, and kind of boring.

In September, Celine’s new creative director, Hedi Slimane, unveiled a logo that did not have an accent over the first “e”. (It wasn’t Slimane’s first iconoclastic act; when he joined Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) in 2012, he decided to axe the “Yves”. The move, perceived as one that distanced the brand from its much-respected founder, was derided by the brand’s fans.) Just months before Celine’s facelift, Riccardo Tisci joined Burberry and abandoned the brand’s heritage logo in favour of a plainer Peter Saville-designed word mark. The same Peter Saville designed Calvin Klein’s all-caps logo when Raf Simons took the reins last year.

(RELATED: 3 ways to carry off a logo without veering into gauche territory)

Sure, a new logo acts as a tabula rasa when a fashion house sees a change in creative leadership. But the sameness of these modern minimalist designs reveals a baser need: survival in the digital world. A smart logo has to be simple yet invincible. It has to render well, and be recognisable whether as an avatar or a split-second GIF. Despite the initial outrage at the replacement of the YSL logotype with a Helvetica font, Saint Laurent’s sales increased by 150 per cent during Slimane’s tenure.

Coincidence or not, it’s worth remembering that a logo isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of a business; a brand should still stay true to its values, and a designer’s creations should still speak louder than the weight of the logo’s typeface. If not, better luck with the next creative director.

(RELATED: How high fashion is embracing streetwear to open up a world of possibilities)