Whatever you do, whether it’s today or 1994, please do not call Xerox “the copier company”. Actually, don’t call it “The Document Company” anymore either. While you are at it, don’t confuse Fuji with Xerox, or wonder if the two merged. And, finally, please forget about that pixelated X that became one of the best known and widely recognized icons. All that is a thing of the past. Yes, just the past four decades. Poor Xerox, so misunderstood, so verbalized — “Can you xerox this for me? Thanks intern” — so outdated. Yet, if you worked anywhere with one of those multi-tasking, short of coffee-making machines, you know that Xerox can do more (way more) than make black and white copies of your spreadsheets. Yet, apparently, few people realize this. And nothing cures ailments like these better than a rebranding. Unveiled today, the new identity, designed by Interbrand, for Xerox may signal a new era for the company but, as far as we designers are concerned, it merely signals the full embrace of the senseless threedimensionalization of the corporate world.
If you can stomach a little press-releasing, here is some:
The new Xerox logo is now a lowercase treatment of the Xerox name — in a vibrant red — alongside a sphere-shaped symbol sketched with lines that link to form an illustrative “X,” representing Xerox’s connections to its customers, partners, industry and innovation, and designed to be more effectively animated for use in multi-media platforms.
— Official press release
Signaling a clear change and evoking a dramatic shift in the world’s perception of this iconic brand, the visual and verbal identity system for Xerox has undergone a massive redesign. The new signature incorporates a lowercase treatment of the Xerox name — in a vivid red Pantone 1797 — alongside a sphere sketched with lines, called “connectors,” that link to form an “X”, representing the company’s connections to its customers, employees, partners, industry and innovation. The “connectors” are super-graphics that appear as reoccurring design elements.
— Interbrand project description
“The Internet, sponsorships, all kinds of 3D icons — none of that existed when Xerox adopted its old logo,” said Maryann J. Stump, senior director of brand strategy for Interbrand. “And you can do animation with a symbol that you just can’t do with a wordmark.”
— Article on The New York Times
I find it rather humorous — and please excuse me while I get my biggest gripe out of the way — that this logo “animates” better and how it’s a key strength. Yet, the best that could be done (at least at launch) is this? Seriously?
Please excuse the hypnotic looping animation. The original movie is too big and when reduced the controller goes away. You can see the full-size animation here.
Why is that marble not rotating? Or exploding? Or building out of thin air? Heck, morphing into Xerox’s CEO would be more interesting than a pedestrian zoom and shine. Sigh. But I digress. Let’s focus on the evolution of this mark for a little bit:
In 1961 Lippincott designed the original logo for Xerox after the company had dropped its “Haloid” half.
Seven years later, in 1961, Chermayeff & Geismar updated the wordmark.
And it wasn’t until 1994 that the logo changed to red and the digitized X was introduced by Landor.
This is also when “The Document Company” appeared, taking completely over the wordmark — people also answered the phone by saying “The Document Company, Xerox”.
In 2002, the wordmark became the more prominent visual. Later, in 2004, “The Document Company” disappeared.
And now, we have this.
Contrary to other logos, like AT&T or UPS, the old Xerox wordmark was not necessarily good or looked as a paragon of our profession, so its demise is not mourned. The short-lived digitized X on the other hand was incredibly communicative and expressive of the place that Xerox occupied at the moment — bridging new and old technologies and processes — but at the same time, despite nostalgia, the pixelation effect was probably as clichéd then as these electric bugaloos are today. The Xerox wordmark was in serious need of an update and, letter for letter (except for the “r”), this new wordmark does an amazing job. Those “x”s are to die for. A wise move would have been to simply move forward with the wordmark, placing emphasis and importance on the word Xerox, which has plenty of equity. But instead we had to be graced with the introduction of this furious marble that is downright abominable and meaningless but come to think of it, it does take my mind off of “the copier company”. Just not with good thoughts.
Conspiracy Theory No. 1: Kodak + Xbox 360 + X-MEN III.