Established in 1670 — making it North America’s “longest continually operated company” — Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is the parent company of one of Canada’s most recognizable and visited department stores, Hudson’s Bay, with 90 locations across the country, known and identified simply as The Bay since 1965. In 2008, HBC was acquired by U.S. private equity firm, NRDC Equity Partners, owner of department store Lord & Taylor. Although the new wordmark for Hudson’s Bay has been circulating since late last year, last week HBC officially announced that the department store would change its name from The Bay (La Baie in French) to Hudson’s Bay (La Baie d’Hudson) and confirmed the new wordmark designed by New York-based Lipman as well as a revival of its original coat of arms drawn by Canadian scratchboard artist Mark Summers.
“We’re very proud to say that Hudson’s Bay is continuing to advance in 2013, not only with our new business ventures, but with our updated look,” says Tony Smith, Creative Director, HBC. “We’ve taken what is a very meaningful two-pronged approach to the redesign: maintaining our heritage while modernizing the new Hudson’s Bay Company. It’s a throwback to our remarkable history and an image for the direction we’re heading in.”
— Press Release
There is a lot of cultural and nostalgic nuance lost on this Mexican-born, Americanized logo-reviewer of yours so, dear Canadians, please excuse me if I miss anything important or misjudge the equity and value of this logo that you have probably been seeing since you were born and most likely have fond (or not) memories of going shopping there with your parents but, well, the old logo is horrendous — designed, btw, in the mid 1960s back when Lippincot had a plus one in Margulies. And I love me some blackletter as much as anyone. But not when it is just an initial cap surrounded by some weird flared sans serif. The yellow color also cheapened its look and made it more appropriate for a beer label than a department store. The new logo corrects this strongest flaw by visually aligning itself with fashion brands like Prada and Burberry as typeset in a decent, extended Didone serif. It loses some impact, which the old logo had (in spades), but it gains sophistication. The revival of the coat of arms — defined in the press release as being used for “packaging and select signature use” — is what seems most promising if used correctly and applied in a more contemporary way. It remains to be seen, obviously, as no applications have been released. (Speaking of press released images: HBC, get your shit together and release properly rendered files, not this).
The logo change was much needed and the result isn’t awe-inspiring or groundbreaking. Simply a step in the right, safe direction.