Xiaomi’s New Logo – Marketing Farce, or Ridiculous Masterpiece?

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xiaomi logo change

Last week, Chinese electronics giant unveiled its new logo at the presentation of its new Mi Mix Fold phone. The changes made to the logo were muted, to say the least.

To round the edges of its square logo and turn into a “squircle”, it 'only' took Xiaomi three years and reportedly cost them over US$300,000.

It is not difficult to imagine why it has attracted the mockery and mirth of netizens, with many claiming they could have pulled off this change for much less money.

Xiaomi had seemingly anticipated this response, with CEO Lei Jun asking the audience, “are you disappointed at this logo, that we just made our original logo rounder?”

However, they also doubled down. The entire presentation covering the details of the new logo lasted over 20 minutes, featuring a five-minute pre-recorded video of renowned designer Kenya Hara, the art director of Japanese retailer Muji who had been engaged for this undertaking, explaining the sheer amount of work that had been put into the design process.

For all the over-the-top explanations of utilising “superellipse” mathematical formulas, experimenting with complex typographies, and achieving a “visually optimal dynamic balance” that purportedly epitomises Xiaomi’s new theme of “Alive”, it really doesn’t change the fact that the only discernible thing they have done is made the logo rounder.

Brands now favour graphic simplicity and directness

In recent years, many companies have unveiled subtle rebrands of their logos. The theme has seemed to be to reduce the visual complexity while making sure the logo is still immediately identifiable. Logos need to stand out, but brands don’t need customers to overthink it.

The bigger your brand is, the less need there is for you to wrap sophisticated visual imagery around your logo. Your audience knows who you are, let them make their own association, that is more compelling than trying to get them to think what you want them to think.

And yet, despite that, the logo still needs a story. And unveiling it must still be a spectacle, if only to show that the company has taken it seriously and that the change is reflective of a shift in the company’s strategy or offering.

Viral talking point = success?

So, in Xiaomi’s case, a comprehensive and flamboyant logo change was never on the cards. But by making a big deal out of the subtle redesign, it has fulfilled its purpose. It has attracted so much more attention and engendered so much more discussion than a radically different logo might possibly have garnered.

And while the adage that any publicity is good publicity isn’t necessarily true for retail brands, the publicity generated from this event will hardly be considered too negative. Sure, people may laugh at Xiaomi for a while, but the costs sunk into the logo change is one they can well afford, and the added attention ensures that the brand has becomes more distinguishable. People will get tired of laughing sooner or later, but the logo will remain memorable.

Compared to millions that would be needed to be spent on advertising campaigns that might not even achieve the same outreach, what is a mere three hundred grand?

Ultimately, resources were not wasted

There are risks that come with a logo re-design. Consumers and customers may have gotten used to the original design, thereby attributing a lot of brand recognition to it, for instance. Companies should be very careful about undertaking such a change; unless it is to fix a poor original design, or to indicate a major turning point in the company’s direction, it is probably better not to reinvent the wheel.

By wanting to lay down a milestone for the new decade and ushering in a new era of intelligent interconnectivity, Xiaomi clearly felt a logo change was justified. But by not rocking the boat and endangering their brand recognition while still managing to garner attention for their subtle re-design, it is reasonable to conclude that the time and money they’ve put into this endeavour has been well-spent.

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UPDATED AS OF 30 May 2024
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