Companies rebrand for a number of reasons. Undergoing a culture shift can offer an identity for a business, creating a more contemporary feel and reviving an aged or out-of-date brand.

Some rebrands are simpler and include small changes like modifying a logo. Others are much more extensive and include sweeping shifts to everything from the company colors to the name itself.

One the most notable adjustments made in a company’s rebranding efforts is the typography. When a company changes its wordmark, it reshapes its whole identity. One of the most consistent typographic trends over the last handful of decades is the wide use of minimalist sans serif typefaces.

This change can suggest modernity, renewed relevance, and the ushering in of a new era.

Here are 9 rebrands that saw the company redefine its persona through a font change.

Uber

Founded in 2009, Uber’s platform took an unlikely premise and turned it into a ubiquitous method of transportation. In the late 2000s, our pockets were in the midst of a technological renaissance. The cellphone, whose previous iterations were clunky and restrictive, was undergoing a massive overhaul.

Things were changing fast. 2007 saw the unveiling of the Apple iPhone, creating a financially accessible avenue for most people to connect to the internet and its bountiful trove of information. This created a host of new realities that were once unthinkable. (And surely, an equally tall hill of cultural disadvantages, many of which are not yet fully known.)

But among the positive developments was the ride-sharing industry. Now our cellphones were capable of hailing a stranger’s vehicle for your own service. Within a few years, it became a part of everyday life. 

At the top of the game was Uber. Originally known as Uber Cab, the company changed its name in 2011 after complaints from San Francisco taxicab workers. But it isn’t the only change Uber’s made in its short 13 years of existence.

Uber’s original icon saw the company’s logo set in a neutral, plaque-like emblem of silvers and grays.

Their 2016 update posited a slightly more complex weaving of light, earthy blues in addition to a reorienting the letter mark, which was now white.

The current Uber wordmark

But it was their latest update, unleashed in 2018, that offered us the most scaled-back approach yet. The emblem was entirely done away with. In its place, the full company name. Unadorned. Without embellishment. The font was now a sleek, minimalist sans serif with gentle, modern curves.

Airbnb

The original Airbnb logo

Airbnb is another business whose platform would sound entirely wacky to someone time traveling from any point earlier than, like, 2005. And just like Uber, it sounded at odds with people’s comfort levels. You press a few buttons and in no time, you’re completely entrusting your entire wellbeing to a stranger.

But Airbnb had faith that they could shake people of their hangups, and that people had had enough bad encounters with hotels to try their luck on a more intimate, homey experience.

And so, in 2008, they launched their model with success and are now considered a huge competitive threat to the hotel industry.

But in 2014, they underwent a rebranding. Pictured above is the original Airbnb logo. It dons an airy, cloud-like cursive typeface. And really, it appears quite dated through the contemporary lens. It looks, well, very 2008.

On top of that, it’s not terribly legible. The smudgy characters lay upon one another in clumsily hollowed-out letterforms, fit with a thick blue outline.

The rebrand simplified things a bit. Instead of a messy standalone word mark, they crafted a neat combination mark: a slick bold weight sans serif with an abstract logo—and I mean quite abstract. I had to spend a decent amount of time trying to discern its meaning.

I have a feeling Airbnb anticipated a similar reaction from most people so they created a video explaining their vision.

Santander

Santander Bank has an interesting history. The original parent business, Banco Santander, under which Santander bank operates, has been around since 1857. As a result, its logo history is quite large. This makes for some amusing early logo iterations.

There aren’t too many still-operating businesses that predate the Civil War, and Santander provides us a rare opportunity to see how one brand’s image has fluctuated to suit the times for over 150 years. And you can really see just how logo design and branding as a whole have developed.

To no surprise, the earliest iteration is quite tame by today’s standard. At least in regards to its format; the characters themselves are actually in a quite decorative, Tuscan-serifed typeface. Something you would never see today.

But over time, the effects of modernism took hold. And gradually, Santander’s branding became more simple, and by the 21st Century had essentially rooted its identity in the basic scheme of red and white.

And in 2018, it made its most recent adjustment: the leap to a sans serif and the elimination of the red background, now offering a clear red text on white background.

Mailchimp

2018 also saw Mailchimp change directions. They upended their branding entirely with a new logo, wordmark, typeface, and colors.

Mailchimp got its start as an email marketing company, but eventually extended its services beyond email. Today, they’re a leading marketing platform for small businesses.

The early wordmark was a handwritten, cursive style. It remained unchanged for over a decade, before experiencing a slight change in 2013. The wordmark maintained its Sharpie-like appearance, but now a bit thinner, and with more contrast to the letterforms.

But the most recent iteration sees the inclusion of a mascot, a chimpanzee. Additionally, its typeface has abandoned the cursive writing entirely and opted for funky sans serif that somehow still retains its primate flair.

Burberry

Like many other tenured brands, Burberry has been racing towards a simple and modern look since the mid-1900s. Prior to their most recent change in 2018, we saw them make the leap from a low-and-wide, high contrast slab serif to a more evenly weighted, bold sans serif.

Their logo had always featured an emblem, depicting a knight on horseback with a sword and shield. It conjures feelings of grandeur, pride, and protection.

Between the years 1968 and 2018, the logo also featured the city in which its headquarters exist: London. This is rather typical for luxury fashion houses like Burberry.

This jump to a minimalist feel, abandoning the emblem and settling for a more straightforward feel is a trend that has been developing for decades, especially in fashion and the arts.

Revolut

Another brand showcasing its own pilgrimage towards the polished efficiency of modern rebranding is Revolut. The British fintech company didn’t desert the gradient blue sheen of its previous look, but there are alternatives to their logo that feature a straight black-and-white look.

The major difference is in the typeface, which originally had less rigid, more fluid, curvacious letterforms. Now, Revolut has opted for a more geometric sans serif.

The logo still features a monogram. A strong R, which, interestingly, is in the same typeface as the previous logo.

Microsoft

After 25 solid years, becoming as ubiquitous a name as one can achieve, Microsoft decided it was time for a rebrand.

It too has switched things up by going for a more geometric logo. The previous design included a three-dimensional logo, which at one time suggested the future, forward-thinking, and technological advancement, but now only looks dated.

The rebrand also includes a typographic change.

The wordmark was a slightly oblique sans serif with a unique dash connecting the O and the S. In addition to switching from black to a softer gray, the font is no longer oblique.