September 04, 2012



“The ‘uninvited redesign’ has become a fixture on the Internet over the past few years. It perpetuates the perfect symbiotic relationship between designer and audience: People love seeing what Wikipedia or Microsoft might look like in the hands of a genius, and designers love stretching their legs without the burden of a real client or brief.” FastCo Design, August 2012

The uninvited redesign is something you could say we all do on some level. Those of us with any interest in branding and/or design pick apart almost any brand we encounter and think about all of the things we’d do differently to make it just a little bit better. And that’s where it ends, for most of us that is.

But the uninvited redesign has become a trend in the design and branding community that some of the most recognizable brands have become the subject of. An uninvited redesign occurs when a designer takes a brand and completely redesigns it to their liking without any contracts, financial obligations, and lastly, no solicitation from the client for the redesign. These are the greatest aspects of an uninvited redesign; there is essentially no pressure and input from the client; so designers are able to simply focus on the design and aesthetics of the brand without much regard to anything else. And what you end up with is a beautiful representation of all of the “could be’s and should be’s” for the brand. And boy, some of the uninvited redesigns that have been spread throughout the design community (Wikipedia, Microsoft, and American Airlines for example) are really pretty and have caused a clamoring for these brands to change.

So, before we go any farther let’s do a quick recap of an uninvited redesign: non-binding, zero cost, unsolicited, no pressure, and no client feedback. Sounds great if you’re a designer, doesn’t it? But what if you’re one of these brands that have now been subjected to seeing idealistic designs of your brand plastered all over the internet? You probably feel very differently than the designers that are knocking at your door to make all of their beautifully crafted changes.

If you’re a designer you’re taking a look at these brands through rose colored glasses so it’s relatively easy for you to say it should look this way or that way, but one really important thing that is missing is strategy behind those designs. Designers are critiquing existing brands without consideration to brand equity, strategy, longevity of the design, or solid research to warrant drastic changes. But if you’re someone who is responsible for said brands you don’t wear rose colored glasses, you’re faced with reality. Unfortunately for brands they have to navigate through all of the calls-for-changes that are near constant on the internet and make decisions for their brands not from an idealistic standpoint but from a business conscious point of view. Going through a complete redesign, especially for major brands, takes a lot of time and money and must have a sound business reason behind it – and no, because it looks pretty is not a sound business reason.

Making a decision about a complete redesign requires research and a proper strategy. It is easy to hear critics from all sorts of outlets calling for a redesign of your brand, but make sure you take the time to perform the necessary steps and have the foundation for both a proper and successful redesign. Once you’ve laid that foundation and have decided that a redesign will best position your brand for long-term success it will then be time to make it all come together through a well-defined and planned design strategy.

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