Alipay's New Logo Released - "Removed Outer Frame and Text, Introduced Three-Dimensional Natural Light". What are the Impacts of Changing a Logo?

Just now, Alipay unveiled its new logo: it removes the outer border and text, introducing a three-dimensional natural light effect. | Netease Finance

Evolution of Logos and Public Reactions

Compared to the old version of the logo, the new one removes the implication of “endless spending” by getting rid of the “outer border.” The dynamic version flows like clouds and water, humorously indicating “spending like water” (just kidding).

On the left is the old version, and on the right is the new version.

The dynamic version actually represents a shift from the previously popular “flat” icon style. It introduces natural lighting on the original symbol, evolving into a new logo with a slight “three-dimensional” feel. This trend has been seen in recent years, similar to the recently updated Android logo. Android stepped away from the completely “flat” mainstream, adopting a three-dimensional logo where the robot’s shiny forehead is noticeable.

Changes in the Android Icon

The new Android icon

The old Android icon

However, the changes in the new Alipay icon are less noticeable on mobile phones, considering the app’s inherent border. The evolution in design seems to be a cyclical trend.

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Alipay’s Logo Change and the Evolution of Corporate Logos

Alipay changed its logo due to changes at the upper management level. On December 31, 2023, the central bank approved the change of Alipay (China) Network Technology Co., Ltd. to having “no actual controller.” This status implies:

  1. There is no shareholder with over 50% ownership;
  2. No entity has actual control over more than 30% of the company’s voting shares;
  3. No single director or senior manager can dominate significant financial and operational decisions.

Under such a major transformation, changing the logo to welcome a new stage of development seems natural.

Of course, changing the logo for the 20th anniversary is also plausible. However, since Alipay was founded on December 8, 2004, it would seem more appropriate to release the new logo in December 2024, coinciding with the 20th anniversary.

Speaking of logo evolution, major companies often change their logos every few years, like Xiaomi:

In 2021, Xiaomi’s logo change was interesting, shifting from a square to a round frame. This redesign, costing over 2 million and crafted by Japan’s Kenya Hara, was claimed to have taken three years to complete. Many netizens joked that Xiaomi was overcharged for a simple change from square to round.

However, Hara presented a sophisticated formula for the logo’s arc:

If n = 1, it represents a square, and n = 2, a standard circle. For larger values of n, the arc increasingly protrudes towards the corners, as shown:

Following this approach, Hara’s team created a series of candidates, ultimately choosing n = 3.

My first intuition about this choice of n = 3 relates to the Tao Te Ching:

“The Tao begets one, one begets two, two begets three, and three begets all things.”

Hara didn’t reference the Tao Te Ching but described the design as “Alive | Life-Feeling Design,” emphasizing the balance between maintaining individuality and finding harmony with the environment.

In logo design, many can be precisely depicted through mathematical formulas, a typical style of science and engineering.

For instance, Apple’s logo can be accurately drawn step by step using geometric constructions:

Similarly, the design of the cloverleaf:

And the former Twitter logo, now transformed by Musk into an ‘X’:

Using geometric constructions, the design seems to elevate in sophistication.

In 1977, Rob Janoff was commissioned by Steve Jobs to design the Apple logo for $100,000. Jobs believed that any company wanting to associate its logo with its name in consumers' minds must invest 10 years and $100 million, similar to Nike’s logo.

To the average person, even without knowledge of marketing, design, or psychology, seeing a company invest heavily in a logo suggests substantial corporate strength.

Thus, it seems the investment in designing and evolving these logos is well justified.

The new logo suggests that there used to be a background before, but now there is none.

Considerations Regarding Logo Design

In the past, many companies followed a common principle or habit when designing their Visual Identity Systems (VIS) guidelines. That principle was to avoid using gradients in logos, especially gradients with non-uniform backgrounds.

Gradients can lead to disputes in adhering to the guidelines in two scenarios:

  1. Gradients inherently have varying shades, making it impossible to have a logo in pure black and white. Gradients introduce gray areas, and specifying the exact values for black and white becomes problematic.

  2. Gradients have a translucent quality within other colors, often requiring restrictions on the background color. For instance, the background might be limited to white, black, or a select range of colors.

In certain VIS applications, these constraints pose challenges. For example:

  • The use of metal etching for pins. Gradients create difficulties in such scenarios, as well as in graphic seals.
  • When logos are transformed into large-scale artistic designs, the complexity of the background can be an issue. Designers must be cautious, not only for aesthetic reasons but also to ensure compliance with VIS’s visual prohibitive requirements.

Note: This article is purely fictional, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.

Changing a logo typically marks a milestone, a quest for change. In theory, it signifies a desire for progress. Let’s examine the Chinese character “支” (zhī) featured in the old logo.

Originally, in oracle bone script, it represented a hand holding a stick for support. Technically, it belongs to the wood element. However, Alipay ventured into finance, where metal counters wood. Interestingly, the blue background resembles the sea, associating it with water nurturing wood. Additionally, Jack Ma’s name includes “Yun,” which means cloud, linking it to water. So far, everything seems harmonious.

But since Jack Ma stepped back, the water element began to diminish. Add in the El Niño effect and rising temperatures, and the water in the cloud started to dwindle.

Moreover, even the finest wood submerged in the sea will eventually rot. It’s been around for nearly 20 years.

So, they sought change, giving birth to a new logo. The new character “又” (yòu) appears bolder, signifying a stronger approach, especially with services like Huabei and Jiebei closing down.

The cross above also looks sharper than before, resembling a blade or a weapon. What’s the character for holding a weapon in ancient times? That’s right, “持” (chí), suggesting possession and a more aggressive approach in holding users' money, armed with weapons.

The absence of borders is more straightforward, symbolizing the removal of constraints, a pure essence. The intriguing aspect is the layered cross of “又,” indicating a different level than before.

As for natural light, I believe everyone understands what light is – something even gold will run out of.

The purpose is clear: let users deposit money, and it will naturally be spent. What naturally depletes? Certainly, financial products. They require no management and will be spent at a certain time.

Therefore, the artistic depth of this logo is as high as a three- or four-story building. I speculate that Alipay’s future direction will heavily involve recommending financial products to users.

Alipay’s Logo Transformation at 20: Embracing Simplicity

As we step into 2024, the 20-year-old Alipay has unveiled its revamped logo. The most significant change in the new logo is the removal of the outer border, retaining the distinctive “支” character as its symbol.

In fact, whether it’s Alipay’s recent logo change or the earlier transformation of Xiaomi’s logo, a common trend emerges in the evolution of these major brand logos: the larger the brand, the simpler the logo they pursue.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” allowing for immediate recognition. This is the fundamental purpose of a logo. In contrast, many corporate logos are not only filled with extravagant colors but also lack a coherent design, leaving viewers perplexed.

Lesson learned, indeed.

The original logo is like a cage, easily trapping Alipay, while the new logo removes the background, aiming to break free from this constraint.

This is serious; what you see may actually be various design concepts, but it’s very likely just Feng Shui.

This is the real world.

There is no significant meaning or impact, just a new leader saying on some occasion that the logo can be changed, so it was changed…

In the internet industry, changing the logo and layout… going with the flow.

Graphic Optimization: From Complexity to Simplicity

Optimizing graphics just for the sake of it, Why bother with the “three-dimensional natural light”? In translation, it’s adding shadows to create a visual three-dimensional structure, UI designers indulging in repetitive styles.

While the Alibaba ecosystem may have its quirks, You’re still a major player, Can’t you be a bit more creative in your designs, Even if it stirs up some excitement, it’s worth exploring and trying, Is this the result? Going back to basics?

Moreover, changing a graphic is like upgrading the Alipay app, Flashy, moving towards flatness, complicating simplicity, becoming bulkier.

Of course, There’s nothing wrong with the graphic itself; it meets the current needs, Without overemphasizing the golden ratio, I already think Alipay is grounded; let’s encourage that.

Lastly, some personal subjective feelings, Focusing on the intersection, it’s conventional, The finishing touch of that last stroke is too short, lacking the continuity of the old logo; it feels stingy.

The official statement says:

Removing the outer frame makes the “support” character more open, and the overall lines more fluid, modern, and dynamic.

Let me tell you, with that frame, You are the open one, With that stroke, there’s a visual of positive and negative forms, Outside the frame is vast space and endless possibilities, Now, with just one short stroke, it’s concluded, A character stands independently, with a beginning, an end, and boundaries, It just seems reserved and stingy.

Of course, you could also call it exquisite, Interpret it however you like.

Finally, it should be noted, As long as it meets their current needs, It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.

Alipay adjusts its logo every two or three years.

This is probably related to popular trends and shouldn’t have much to do with business intentions.

Not only Alipay, but all major brands also make slight logo adjustments every few years.

Is this something worth trending?

After reading a few responses, I suddenly felt that Xiaomi’s 2 million logo change was quite worth it…

Whenever people see a company changing its logo, they will always remember the “Xiaomi’s big misunderstanding back in the day - 2 million for a logo change, from square to round.”

Do not buy funds on Alipay, it’s a huge scam.

Alipay used to have an actual controller, so there was a framework;

Now there is no actual controller, so the framework has been removed.

Do you know how a department in a large company can waste the company’s money in order to prove its worth?

No matter whether you have a frame or not,

When the operating system displays the logo, it will add a frame to it.

And every app has an equally sized frame.

Alipay wants to open up, and other apps also want to open up. The mobile desktop is only so big, what else can be done?

High-end design is just like high-end Japanese cuisine.

Quality is important, but having a compelling story is a must.

Changes: From Being a Background Company to No Background

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Impact of Alipay’s Logo Change on Brand and Users

The change of Alipay’s logo has had a significant impact on both the brand and its users, primarily manifesting in the following aspects:

  1. Brand Image Revamp: The new Alipay logo has eliminated the outer frame and text, introducing a three-dimensional natural light effect, making the entire logo more concise, trendy, and memorable, enhancing brand recognition. This design better showcases Alipay’s open, innovative, and warm brand image, strengthening user awareness and trust.

  2. Improved User Experience: The simplicity of the new logo design aligns with modern user aesthetics, making it eye-catching and easier for users to accept and remember the brand. Simultaneously, the three-dimensional natural light design provides users with a more natural and comfortable user experience, increasing user loyalty and dependence on the brand.

  3. Marketing Strategy Adjustment: The release of the new logo signifies a shift in Alipay’s marketing strategy. Alipay can convey its brand values and ideals through the logo’s changes, attracting more users and partners. Additionally, Alipay can leverage the launch of the new logo to introduce more marketing campaigns and promotional policies, enhancing user engagement and purchase intent.

  4. Intensified Market Competition: With the release of the new logo, Alipay’s position in the market is bound to change. On one hand, the stylish and concise design of the new logo can attract a younger and more female user base, increasing market share. On the other hand, as market competition intensifies, Alipay needs to continually enhance its services and innovation capabilities to meet user demands and face challenges from competitors.

In conclusion, the change of Alipay’s logo has a positive and constructive impact on both the brand and its users. Through the release of the new logo, Alipay can further enhance its brand image, user experience, adjust marketing strategies, and address challenges in the competitive market.

I feel like I still prefer the old logo, but I am just a small voice, can I stop using it just because it changed its logo? My money is all in Alipay. January 20, 2024.

It seems like changing “kogo,” but it’s actually changing one’s luck. The outer frame symbolizes something unfavorable.