Founded in 1922 by retired farmer George J. Mecherle, State Farm originally specialized in auto insurance for farmers. The company has since expanded its services to provide multiple types of insurance, along with banking and financial assistance. Currently ranked 37 on the Fortune 500 list with 65,000 employees, 17,800 agents and about 81 million policies and accounts in force, State Farm generated 63.2 billion in revenue in 2011. With large numbers and witty ad campaigns as a springboard, State Farm turned to Chermayeff & Geismar to help update their brand for the 21st century.
“We certainly didn’t change it lightly,” said Pam El, marketing vice president at State Farm. “We believe that it’s clearer. It’s a little bit more contemporary; it’s a bit more user friendly.” […] “I’ve got 26 years here,” said Joe Strupek, State Farm’s assistant vice president of public affairs. “I’ve been looking at the same logo for 26 years, but the company has changed tremendously.”
— Pantagraph.com article
The familiar logo showcasing the company’s offerings of “auto, fire and life” will evolve to a simplified three oval design positioned adjacent to the State Farm wordmark. This is the first time the company has updated its logo in nearly 60 years. […] “In today’s digital and mobile world this simple and contemporary design makes for a bolder presence in the marketplace whether it’s through a billboard, television advertising, a sign outside an agent’s office, online or through one of our mobile web applications.”
— Press Release
As of January 1, State Farm rolled out a simplified tri-oval logo with an updated wordmark in a bespoke typeface. The update marks the company’s 90th anniversary. It is only the third update to the mark in the past 90 years and one that is both a bit hit and a bit miss.
The new mark’s main objective, besides being “sleeker, simpler,” is to make State Farm digitally friendly across all platforms. Just as the previous mark focused on being print friendly in the 1950s, the new mark is appropriately simplified for the digital and pixelated world. By removing the iconic “Auto, Life, Fire” from the tri-oval, readability has been clarified and can now be identified by relying on the assumption that this is a mark that is nationally known and understood.
By removing the frame and the “State Farm Insurance” text, the new mark feels bolder and more “ownable” as a mark instead of a seal. However, by removing the frame, the tri-oval becomes a bit awkward in shape, feeling more like an icon for a chicken farm than insurance; a detail that I believe could have been solved if the outer rings of the tri-ovals remained linked as the old mark had.
The new typography is spot-on. The kerning and the way the letterforms fit together could not get much better. It does what it needs to do: complement the logo without interfering. The most notable change is the raised bowl of both two story “a”s, which saves the counterspace between the “T” and “F”. The new wordmark no longer sparks with large and awkward white space. For that, I’m a fan.
Overall, new mark feels awkward and out of place, possibly a bit rushed, but — and this is a big but — the final execution makes sense. For such a large brand that has been around for nearly a century, with clients ranging from teens to grandparents, State Farm needed to stay within a certain world of restraints which I believe they have done. Final words: no mountain-moving brand update here.