With more than 2.4 million girl members, supported by nearly a million adult members working as volunteers, the Girl Scouts of the USA is the world’s biggest organization dedicated to girls — all girls as their description clarifies. Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts now counts with 100 councils across the United States that help girls find a troop to join, and even outside of the U.S., there are 90 countries helping 16,000 girls stay connected. But what we all know about the Girl Scouts around this blog is that its logo was designed by Saul Bass in 1978 and, like the rest of his identity work, it summed up brilliantly and succinctly the mission of the organization and the history behind it. Yesterday, the Girl Scouts unveiled a new identity by the newly formed New York design firm, Original Champions of Design (OCD). [Disclaimer: I worked for two years with one of its founders, Jennifer Kinon, while we were both at Pentagram.]
One thing we also all know is that you don’t mess with a Saul Bass logo. I mean, yes you can change it or get rid of it as there is no written law about it, but doing so will not win you any friends in this industry. The first smart move by OCD was to not mess with a Saul Bass logo, the second was to try to technically improve it. Working with Joe Finocchiaro and Jasper Goodall, OCD made some subtle updates to the three girl profiles.
[Changes to the profiles]:
1. Bangs help differentiate and age down the three girls.
2. The more perky nose is also more youthful.
3. Adding tension to the lips brings the girls alive.
4. And simplifying the neck makes the mark stronger.
5. The pointed trefoil begins to setup a unified system.
— OCD Project Page
Adding the bangs on the first profile really helps in making this logo more contemporary, as the old profile, with the hair pulled back, made the girl too matronly. The perkier nose is cuter and the lips look a little less numb. The one thing that stands out more in this revision is the length of the necks, where they feel a little too stretched in this rendition by being so angular, whereas before the effect was diminished by the curvature. In terms of the shape of the trefoil itself, the update is a vast improvement with the new horizontal axis asymmetry, making it look more like a badge than a four-leaf clover. And as some of the executions below show, it makes for a very playful shape.
We created a modified version of the typeface Avenir to sync up with the angle of the Profiles. Then we set “girl scouts” in all lowercase which had two advantages. It made the wordmark more approachable. And, the lowercase “g” offset the Profiles, which we placed at the forward end of the lockup, proudly leading the way like the prow of a ship.
— OCD Project Page
The new wordmark is simple and effective, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to Avenir. I always question the need to lowercase wordmarks and this is no exception. Yes, this looks nicer and softer, but does it really serve any other purpose? Certainly, the attention to detail on the angles and placement is very welcome.
Outside of the organization logo, the rest of the identity uses Joshua Darden’s Omnes — which has been licensed to every Girl Scouts computer — and variations on the trefoil patterns as well as the trefoil acting as a holding shape for important information.
More than a logo or identity redesign, this project is a great example of what can be called a revitalization, breathing new life into something a lot of people are familiar with. And as long as they keep those Samoas Girl Scouts cookies coming, they can tweak the logo all they want.