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The Next Big Thing

OK, UPS is almost 6 months old and now that everyone finally loves it and agrees that it was a good idea, let’s move on. What is the next big thing?

Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Lester Beall. All three were great designers with many great, timeless logos out there. Realistically though, it is just a matter of time until more of there work is replaced or evolved. Even IBM will one day change (hopefully not for another 50 years though.)

The question is, which ones should change and why. Does the logo look too old? Does it not represent the company well? Is it (cover your ears) poorly designed? I say, lets keep it to these three designers plus maybe some old marks from Anspach Grossman Portugal (now Enterprise IG), Lippincott Mercer or Chermayeff and Geismar.

Keep in mind that if we can come to a consensus, I will personally see to it that there is a change.*

I would also like to thank Armin for putting aside our differences and having me join Speak Up. Thanks Armin, this one’s for you.

*I will not, in fact, personally see to anything.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1549 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Aug.11.2003 BY David Weinberger
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Walgreens

It's neither Rand, Bass, or Beall. This one is for Armin.

Welcome David.

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:13 PM
Bob’s comment is:

I agree. Walgreens has got to go.

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:21 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I predict that the next great logo to be retired will be Rand's ABC logo. I've read a rumor somewhere that ABC has been in the process for a while now.

I like the logo, but there's an example where the technology has indeed surpassed the mark. I could be mistaken, but the circular ABC letterforms was supposed to represent the shapes of circular TV dials and other broadcast a/v devices. In the early 80s, rotary dials, like toggle switches and levers, were replaced by small buttons and bean-shaped interfaces on remotes and all forms of electronic devices. So the ABC logo's form has lost its meaning to the current generation -- no one sees "television" anymore.

I think it's just a matter of time before the ABC logo says bye-bye.

It's like the evolution of the NCR logo. It used to be the letterforms contained in button-shaped boxes. Made sense since NCR made cash registers and other keyboard-interface electronics. When keyboards eventually changed, and interfaces advanced, the old NCR logo became archaic instead of innovative. So it was changed.

Along that same line, NBC's peacock really has no meaning either. Originally, it implied NBC's mastering of color broadcasting. Now, the logo is mostly used as a 1-color signature. It's still a strong brand, but it has lost its meaning. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Good topic to start David.

btw, UPS still bites :-)

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:22 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Thanks Kiran and thanks David. Nice touches.

What's next? And big as in "150 comment discussion Big"? IBM. But I really, really don't see that one happening. My other guess would be GE (General Electric).

Not much else is left. Everything has been rebranded, revamped, retouched and rethinked. The NBC, CBS and ABC logos have stood strong for quite sometime now.

I would love to see Sears get rid of their stupid logo. Yes, I said stupid. It's a stupid, bad looking logo.

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:26 PM
Brent’s comment is:

Mobil?

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

come on...Sears isn't so bad -- it's hard, yet still soft. I tell ya, I actually love the Craftsman brand. Looks like what it's supposed to be -- indestructable and manly.

And while we're dissin manly marks -- the Home Depot mark has GOT to go. Now that's ugly and stupid.

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I'll meet you in the middle with the Sears logo Tan. But only because it works well.

Home Depot is really an amateurish logo. Keep the orange, I don't care! But somebody has to straighten that thing out.

On Aug.11.2003 at 01:49 PM
David E.’s comment is:

How about the Saul Bass Girl Scouts logo? Its about as stale as the box of chocolate mint cookies in my freezer.

On Aug.11.2003 at 02:09 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

While I would agree that many of the logos mentioned are a bit ugly (Home Depot, for sure) I'm not sure if I can come up with a business reason for any of them to rebrand their identities. All of the brands mentioned seem to be going strong--especially WalGreens.

We have a large Sears downtown that had their old gigantic sign up (each letter getting it's own sign). It was a wonderful sign. Just last year they finally replaced it with the 70's-esque current logo. I was sad to see it go.

On Aug.11.2003 at 02:13 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>I'm not sure if I can come up with a business reason

Don't you worry about that. David W is making the pitch(es). You just point out the ugly, he'll sell it.

On Aug.11.2003 at 02:21 PM
Joseph J. Finn’s comment is:

While I disagree that the UPS logo is a success (it looks particularly bad on their trucks), the Walgreens logo seems just fine. The store's so well established that they don't need to pump up their logo - just put up the nicely readbale script logo and you're all set.

Now Home Depot is definitely in need of something - but nothing too sophisticated. Part of the joy of Depot is that it's a rough-and-tumble store, without the expensive accouments of a Sears or an Ace Hardware, to supposedly keep costs & prices down. A new logo should reflect that.

On Aug.11.2003 at 02:40 PM
Armin’s comment is:

How about good ol' reliable googley-o-gilly:

It is definitely one of the most "viewed" brands. I like the way they do different cooky stuff to it on Valentine's day and tacky stuff like that. Wait, I clarify — I like the concept, not the execution. I could see Google doing it Absolut style, with an ever-morphing brand.

On Aug.11.2003 at 02:56 PM
David W’s comment is:

I would LOVE to redo American Express. That CA ligature kills me.

Walgreens and Sears don't bother me. AT&T could go.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:23 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

Cummins is my least favorite Rand logo, I think it needs to go.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:24 PM
David W’s comment is:

Cummins is my least favorite Rand logo, I think it needs to go.

no problem

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:30 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Part of the joy of Depot

I've never heard anyone use the words 'joy' and '[Home] Depot' in the same sentence.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:30 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

I think FutureBrand could use an update. Pop-up all-flash sites are *so* late-90s-dot-bomb-era. ;o)

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:33 PM
David W’s comment is:

I'm on it.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:35 PM
priya’s comment is:

i personally cannot stand the Verizon logo. That Z gives me nightmares.

I disagree with the comment about the GE logo. In fact, the GE mark is one of my favorites. It's a company with such tradition, rebranding in my opinion would be taking a step back. I can't see them looking to rebrand anytime soon.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:43 PM
Sarah B’s comment is:

I am so mixed up about all of this. I think that the logos that have "stood the test of time", ones that are solid (no matter how 'un-contemporary' or not so 'pretty') should remain for the most part. maybe change small things about it, the style it is set in...but the font or the logo itself....I have a hard time agreeing.

It is different if the company is still evolving, changing, growing to something new.....but I think an established identity is a valuable thing.

Perhaps I am too scared to veer from the design that rests in college textbooks......(a 2002 graduate - 7 years of college - yikes).... I just, for now, think it is important.

On Aug.11.2003 at 03:57 PM
Sarah B’s comment is:

Oh..... I think AT & T should stay...last year I saw a TV ad that used the old logo, in a few great ways and ended back on the original... thats all that needs to be done....some creativity.

Just my ten cents.

On Aug.11.2003 at 04:08 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>I disagree with the comment about the GE logo.

Oh! I disagree with it too. I love that logo, I think it is one of the all-time greats. But I also kinda liked the old UPS logo, but that didn't stop some people (wink wink) from changing it. And when David asked the question about what is the next "big change" I immediatley thought of two of the strongest "looking" brands out there and what a crime it would be to change them.

As an aside, I forgot we were talking about a certain number of people: Rand, Glaser, Chermayeff and Geismar and some other hot-shot branding NYC agencies. So I take back my Google logo.

Now, a Bass logo that I would like to see change is AT&T. What's funny is that Bass made it look "three-dimensional" way back then. And the effed up thing right now is that they have actually added three-dimensionality to a flat-three-dimensional logo. Which is kind of a double negative. But that's just me. Or I read it somewhere and now claim it's just me.

>Perhaps I am too scared to veer from the design that rests in college textbooks......(a 2002 graduate - 7 years of college - yikes).... I just, for now, think it is important.

Million dollar agreements between corporations and branding agencies cancel out college textbooks. Seriously, I hear what you are saying Sarah, why, if it ain't broken, fix it?

Yup, I have no answer.

On Aug.11.2003 at 04:12 PM
brook’s comment is:

i dig the nostalgic walgreens logo. i just saw a new store going up the other day... the old logo looked great applied to a fancy new facade.

On Aug.11.2003 at 04:14 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> a 2002 graduate - 7 years of college

Sarah -- I was in school for 7 years also. Don't feel bad, cause lots of people do it -- they're just called doctors.

> I'm not sure if I can come up with a business reason for any of them to rebrand their identities.

It's hard to say when it's necessary for a company to rebrand. Most successful rebranding initiatives (and attempts like UPS) are proactive, not reactive. Waiting for the market to signal a need (ie. a business reason) is often too late. Many companies have died on the fringe of a rebranding push.

That being said, the need for a rebrand is both a business as well as a visceral decision. As designers, we just sometimes know when something is dated and needs changing. The real period of evaluation comes when at the end, when the result is seen and the implementation can be judged (ala UPS).

On Aug.11.2003 at 04:29 PM
Dan’s comment is:

>It's hard to say when it's necessary for a company to rebrand.

This may be way off topic, but I thought it was interesting. One way to tell you're ready to rebrand is when you have very little to start with. Has anyone seen the commercial for MD bathroom tissue changing their name to "Angel Soft." Just a guy standing there holding the two packages and basically saying, "MD is now Angel Soft" over and over.

I was kind of surprised that they would completely abandon MD, colors and everything. But I guess that I really don't really have any strong associations with the brand. I probably wouldn't have brought to mind "bathroom tissue" if you said "MD" before seeing that they were changing the name.

On Aug.11.2003 at 05:17 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

MD was a huge brand for Georgia Pacific (parent company), who purchased Angel Soft as part of a bigger company acquisition. It made sense to GP to migrate the two brands together, to maximize efficiencies, and so forth. At least it made sense financially, forgetting for a second that people have loyalties to their toilet paper. (They do!) What I think may have been missed (though I am not sure, we did not work on this) was that there wasn't a staged migration that allowed you to realize by looking at the package (a.k.a two logos--what fun!) that the two brands were now being morphed into one. Hence the heavy-handed ad campaign. It is sad, cause this actually happens all the time...Downyflake became Hungry Jack, and in another classic toilet paper scandal, when Cottonelle became Kleenex. Ah, trivia.

On Aug.11.2003 at 07:03 PM
damien’s comment is:

It's hard to say when it's necessary for a company to rebrand. Most successful rebranding initiatives (and attempts like UPS) are proactive, not reactive. Waiting for the market to signal a need (ie. a business reason) is often too late. Many companies have died on the fringe of a rebranding push.

Tan - you successfully 'said' when it is necessary for a company to rebrand. I think though it could be tweaked to when is it necessary for a company to reposition itself?

Sometimes a company needs to react to certain things and reposition itself in order to stay alive or rejuvinate itself. Whether it does it well - only time will tell for Altria (or whatever they're called now).

Positioning is the key element in rebranding. When companies fail to articulate that, then their branding can seem somewhat disconnected to their intiative.

I noticed the other day - after having received several UPS packages, that their tagline - 'Synchronizing Global Commerce' takes them out of just delivering packages on time and to the right place. In fact what UPS seem to want to be doing is to reposition itself as a partner in someone's business. So that you no longer simply consider them to just deliver packages, but to enable your small business to ship, manage and "synchronize" your inventory. Basically long before you get to thinking about sending a package or your product. This makes good business sense.

I just happened to notice, that for me, the average punter who receives the package, it means nothing to me and does that really matter? After all - I'm receiving it and so I have no choice as to who Amazon uses.

I continue to marvel at and watch closely the huge corporations that do reposition themselves and roll out massive branding campaigns to do this. Its an insane thing to get right and manage. I also continue to think that UPS' repositioning is a solid strategic move - it is meaningful to their new target audience and doesn't completely alienate others. Just us graphic designers.

You can read a speach from the CEO that explains a little behind the three words used in UPS' new tagline here

On Aug.11.2003 at 07:10 PM
damien’s comment is:

I mean "SPEECH" - sorry about that (as if that is the only spelling mistake)

On Aug.11.2003 at 07:50 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Positioning is the key element in rebranding.

I agree with you Damien. Unless there is a momentous event, like an m&a like MD, then a repositioning initiative is usually an attempt at maintaining market share, or gaining market share. Hopefully, it's a proactive step more than a reactive response.

But Darrel asked if a rebranding has "business reasons", implying that there's empirical, analytic data that triggers and justifies a rebrand in all cases. My point was that in many cases, it's intuitive as much as it's hard logic.

> I also continue to think that UPS' repositioning is a solid strategic move - it is meaningful to their new target audience and doesn't completely alienate others.

To beat a dead horse (horrible expression btw), I want to clarify something. I don't object that strongly to UPS's repositioning strategy. While I don't love yet another corporate use of "global solutions" -- I'm not arguing that it's wholely inappropriate. It's not banal, nor is it genius -- so it falls somewhere in between for me.

But what I do object to is the specific execution (pun intended) of the new logo. Will it alienate a ton of civilians who aren't designers? No. But the public would use UPS if its new logo was a URL and a turd on a shield. Designing something that meets the minimal acceptance of the public is nothing to be proud of.

The poor execution was a missed design opportunity, and one that was justified by trite corporate reasoning. It doesn't make it a crime against humanity, but it also doesn't make it a success or something to be respected.

On Aug.11.2003 at 08:00 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>people have loyalties to their toilet paper. (They do!)

Cha-Cha-Cha...Charmin!

On Aug.11.2003 at 08:13 PM
Colin’s comment is:

Westinghouse. Definitely a dated relic of modernism. When I see that thing I think of marshmallow couches, shag carpet, bubble chairs, and Andy Warhol prints.

On Aug.11.2003 at 08:20 PM
damien’s comment is:

But Darrel asked if a rebranding has "business reasons", implying that there's empirical, analytic data that triggers and justifies a rebrand in all cases. My point was that in many cases, it's intuitive as much as it's hard logic.

Tan, then I don't think I can agree with you here (I'm not quite convinced myself as to wholeheartedly jump in to a complete disagreement), I tend to think that in many cases, more than not, rebranding always is based on business reasons. And in all those 'many' cases they are backed with analytical and empirical data.

From the rebranding of Windows XP to repositioning a small consultancy, every rebranding project I've worked on has had data to support it and a business directive motivating it.

In most cases, as I'm sure you'll agree, clients or companies arrive at design consultants (branding firms etc) with either a problem or a need for a solution. And in all cases I've seen, the work undertaken has required a measurable outcome. This being measured by both business and strategic marketing planning.

I've never met yet, which is to not say it doesn't exist, an intuition-led rebranding project that hasn't any business reasons to go with it. And I would say that this is particularly true of large corporate rebranding efforts, like the aforementioned Home Depot or Sears. While we may not see many small to medium sized businesses jumping on the rebranding band-wagon right now, it is characteristic of today's climate that big corporates will seek to strengthen their position in many different ways.

Personally, I prefer working on the business planning and strategic imperatives behind rebranding organizations and their repositioning, so I am inclined to have an impaired view.

On Aug.11.2003 at 08:50 PM
Mark Kingsley’s comment is:

Cha-Cha-Cha...Charmin!

you mean charmin ultra? that used to be the glorious white cloud. i "suffered" at least a year until a friend told me that it was now known as charmin ultra. draw your own branding conclusions...

anyway, may i suggest JP Morgan Chase and PriceWaterhouseCoopers as evidence of democratic exercises in mediocrity.

the JP Morgan Chase logo took what was classic Chermayeff & Geismar designthink -- the chase icon was an abstraction of a woodworking "chase" joint -- and turned it into a frankenlogo.

and PriceWaterhouseCoopers -- would you trust your corporate accounting to a company with a drunken baseline?

(related anecdote: my accountant went to Univ. Nevada @ Las Vegas and constantly wears Las Vegas sweatshirts to meetings. i've been giving him shit for 15 years now.)

and finally, the AOL Time Warner logo... Steff Geissbuhler's eye/ear icon at least had personality.

we have a friend who used to work for AOL and they would comment on how ugly steve case's shoes were (think Thom McAnn). i guess their identity is one of those "top down" decisions. ugh...

On Aug.11.2003 at 10:35 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> And in all cases I've seen, the work undertaken has required a measurable outcome. This being measured by both business and strategic marketing planning.

Many of the brandings that I've been involved with were triggered by new personnel, new services, or various shifts in market emphasis -- uncharted waters that have no precedence for the company. But that doesn't mean there's a total lack of business data to back the efforts. I concede Damien. Good points as always.

Next time, remind me not to disagree w/ you again :-)

On Aug.12.2003 at 01:28 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> Westinghouse. Definitely a dated relic of modernism.

Good God. With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more Colin. The Westinghouse logo is one of design's most perfect industry metaphors. Electronic circuits have been and will always be represented in circuit maps as lines and nodes. As such, Rand's masterful logo is the ideal representation of both electricity and engineering -- Westinghouse's primary service offering.

On Aug.12.2003 at 01:49 AM
luumpo’s comment is:

Tan, I couldn't agree more. The Westinghouse logo rocks hard.

I likes all these old logos. Girl Scouts, ABC, etc. Much better than swooshes and circuitry.

On Aug.12.2003 at 05:00 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

The Geissbuhler "eye/ear" logo for Time Warner was commissioned by the inituitive and daring Steve Ross. He died, and was replaced by a numbers guy, Nick Nicholas. Nicholas scrapped the pictoral logo and installed a pretty nondescript typographic one, mostly to prove to the organization that Ross was gone and wasn't coming back. From what I've heard, both of the decisions were personal, and any "business reasons" were seemed to have been concocted after the fact. In my experience this has been more common than anyone would lead their stockholders or employees to believe. News reports yesterday, by the way, seemed to indicate that the management of AOL Time Warner would be voting as early as next week to drop those first three letters from their name. Could this have anything to do with the fact that there are no more AOL people in the leadership there?

If I could change any widely seen logos out there, it would be Sears (the softer side of Helvetica Black Italic), the US Postal Service (an italic rectangle, hmm!) and Southwest (ugly on purpose is still ugly.) There would be good business reasons for all three of the changes, too!

On Aug.12.2003 at 05:38 AM
Scott’s comment is:

I think the key here is that quality needs to survive and be encouraged, regardless of its vintage.

So in my opinion...

ABC, AT&T, GE, Girl Scouts, Mobil, Westinghouse: these are all distinctive, memorable marks with relevance to what they represent

Cummins, Google, Home Depot, PWC, Verizon, Walgreens: none of these mean anything, and most of them don't even look good

American Express, AOL Time Warner, Chase, NBC, Sears: these are either so nondescript or have been so messed up that they no longer matter.

(AmEx's "logo" is the card in any case, as it should be.)

As for "MD" or "Angel Soft," I have no idea what they look like as I've never heard of them--I can't say I've noticed too many toilet paper packages, at least since they started making the type all "fluffy" and so on.

On Aug.12.2003 at 07:40 AM
David W’s comment is:

Actually Scott, AT&T is not distinctive although it absolutely once was and GE is a heritage mark as opposed to something that has relevance to what it represents since it does not. In that sense it is similar to Walgreens.

Anyway nice to see you again. Part of what keeps me going is knowing that one day I'll design something that bothers you.

On Aug.12.2003 at 08:47 AM
kyle’s comment is:

There was a report just yesterday on the likelihood of GE doing some kind of rebranding. It seems that for the most part GE has become more of a financial services company....although that's not necessarily the public's perception (mine anyway). GE to GF...that could be a subtle shift.

I find it interesting to see have logos have subtlety evolved over time. I remember seeing an old Johnson & Johnson band-aids tin at my Grandma's house a while back. I was struck by how different the "J & J" script type was.

On Aug.12.2003 at 10:14 AM
Scott’s comment is:

Actually Scott, AT&T is not distinctive although it absolutely once was and GE is a heritage mark as opposed to something that has relevance to what it represents since it does not. In that sense it is similar to Walgreens.

It's true, the AT&T mark has been ripped off many times, and it owes its own debt to IBM (stripes = technology). But now that that trend has passed, it has a chance to become a classic by transcending all that.

That's what GE did. And yes, the GE symbol doesn't say laser-guided missile defense technology, but I have always thought its Art Nouveau forms work very nicely printed on a light bulb.

What GE does have to fix is its meaningless (and inaccurate) tagline ("we bring good things to life") and the correspondingly incongruous typography stuck on in the 80s. It was bad then, and it's still bad.

On Aug.12.2003 at 11:43 AM
Tan’s comment is:

You chumps can all kiss Sears' ass. Dissin on Sears during back-to-school season too...for shame. Hey look! Craftsman tools and riding mowers are on sale.

> I find it interesting to see have logos have subtlety evolved over time.

There's a great paired set of logo books that I have -- 100 Years of World Trademarks printed by Graphis, and edited by the late Rick Eiber. The books are separated into 2 groupings, letterform logos (alphabetical from A - Z) and symbols (squares, circles, faces, animals, etc.) The best part of the books is the front, where they display and discuss the evolution of about a dozen corporate marks including P&G, Prudential, and Mobil. Simply fascinating.

Expensive (about $200 for the set), but highly recommended for logo designers.

On Aug.12.2003 at 11:46 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>But now that that trend has passed, it has a chance to become a classic by transcending all that.

Boy, I don't know. It will become a classic, but just for its sheer importance as a company and because Bass did it; also, when it was done, it was probably a revolutionizing technique — maybe not, I'm just assuming that. I don't think it will become a classic because of its strength as a mark. You can slap that circle with stripes on just about every other company and it would work. Unlike Westinghouse (which I've dissed in the past) that only works for Westinghouse.

On Aug.12.2003 at 04:20 PM
Colin’s comment is:

Good God. With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more Colin. The Westinghouse logo is one of design's most perfect industry metaphors. Electronic circuits have been and will always be represented in circuit maps as lines and nodes. As such, Rand's masterful logo is the ideal representation of both electricity and engineering -- Westinghouse's primary service offering.

You're talking about the concept. I was talking more about the execution. Even the ABC logo looks less dated than this thing. You ask anyone when the Westinghouse logo was created, they'd say the '50s or '60s. You really can't place the era the IBM or AT&T logos were created in, for example. I personally don't think this is a desirable trait for a logo, unless you specifically want to convey the idea that you have been in existence since whatever era your logo was created in.

On Aug.13.2003 at 01:53 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Me: "You can slap that circle with stripes on just about every other company and it would work."

Allow me to illustrate:

See? To me, the AT&T logo has that swapable, cliparty look that makes it a very generic mark. And yes, I should definitely be working instead of doing this.

On Aug.13.2003 at 03:06 PM
Sarah B’s comment is:

Armin:

I agree that it could work with almost anything else, or any other set of letters, and it does have a clip-art thingy going on.

But I still think it should remain - it IS AT&T, you see it, you know who it is, no matter how simple or generic it is.

On Aug.13.2003 at 03:38 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

As far as the AT&T iconography looking like it could work with any other letters: that is not the correct benchmark to judge it. Try this: take all the letters away. Do you still know who the company is? Yes yes yes. Good logo or not, it has very strong brand equity. You don't need any other piece of communication and you know who the company is.

On Aug.13.2003 at 03:49 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Try this: take all the letters away. Do you still know who the company is? Yes yes yes. Good logo or not, it has very strong brand equity.

Oh by all means, I completely agree. You can create the logo out of Jell-o and I would still recognize it. My point was that the logo will become a classic because of its strong association to the brand that is AT&T and not because of the logo being unique or a differentiator. I think there is merit for the recognizability, but in terms of the "visual" apsect of the design... eh.

>But I still think it should remain - it IS AT&T, you see it, you know who it is, no matter how simple or generic it is.

Yes, it will remain as such for years to come.

On Aug.13.2003 at 04:13 PM
Tom’s comment is:

So does Lester Beall's work still stand? Stanley tools, International Papers? Alot of his great work is gone because of mergers.

On Aug.13.2003 at 07:03 PM
Scott’s comment is:

You can create the logo out of Jell-o and I would still recognize it. My point was that the logo will become a classic because of its strong association to the brand that is AT&T and not because of the logo being unique or a differentiator. I think there is merit for the recognizability, but in terms of the "visual" apsect of the design... eh.

But that's exactly the point. The opinions you or I might have about whether something is good or bad or fresh or dated are not what counts when it comes to logos like these. When they get to this level they transcend all that.

And becoming a classic because of its strong association with a brand is the whole point of a logo! After all, Rand himself said that good companies make their logos good.

His example was Mercedes--a meaningless symbol that now signifies quality and tradition. Meanwhile, his own logo for Enron would look a lot better to us now if the company itself was better.

On Aug.13.2003 at 07:34 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>But that's exactly the point.

>And becoming a classic because of its strong association with a brand is the whole point of a logo!

That was your point Scott? Darn, and after all those diagrams and Jello-o references we were in agreement all the time?

Just one question though:

"When they get to this level they transcend all that."

Well, I really don't have a question, just... so, maybe one: when a logo gets to this level, the subjective opinions one might have towards it don't matter anymore? I'm not trying to argue for the sake of arguing, because I kind of agree with you. Not even sure what my point here is exactly.

subjectively ugly logo + bad ass brand equity + recognizability = good brand?

That's all there is to it? So we could be doing really bad logos but as long as we have tons of millions of dollars to embed the brand on people we'll be ok? I'm not implying this is your way of thinking Scott, your comment just led me to all this, which I have been thinking about for a while.

On Aug.13.2003 at 08:00 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Regarding the AT&T logo, the one thing it has is that "big logo" quality. I find this very hard to describe, but I remember several years ago getting involved with an exercise to redesign the Microsoft logo (don't ask). One thing I learned right away is that it was easy to design a perfectly good logo that would work for Microsoft if it was cute little start up, but communicating vast reach and ambition (to put it mildly) seemed to require something "bigger." AT&T has that kind of "bigness" to it. Its very abstractness and interchangability conveys scope to me.

I'd be interested to know if anyone's ever seen a clear articulation of this property in logo design. I haven't.

By the way, there is a longstanding legend that Bass had designed the logo for another client who rejected it, and then started showing it to everyone else how came along until AT&T bought it. (Golly, can you imagine doing such a thing?) Some people would say that Bass sold the same logo over and over anyway: check out his logos for MInolta and the old round 70s Continental Airlines logo -- more circles-n-stripes.

On Aug.14.2003 at 07:04 AM
David W’s comment is:

Try this: take all the letters away. Do you still know who the company is? Yes yes yes.

Wow, it is very difficult for a symbol to be recognized without the name of the company - to the average person at least. AT&T certainly can't do it. (Sorry Deb. Our first fight).

You can create the logo out of Jell-o and I would still recognize it.

Designers don't count. We could each draw the logos of probably 100+ companies unprompted. We can also tell the difference between Univers Helvetica and Arial at a glance.

Sit in on one Identity focus group and you'll realize that the average consumer doesn't recall what a companies logo is (even UPS). That is why most symbols are locked up with the company name. Take AT&T away and my guess is people won't be able to tell you what company it is. Or, try just asking people what the AT&T logo is with no visual. You'll get some funny answers. Or, to Michael's point, try putting it next to Cable and Wireless, Minolta, and the old Continental logo. I don't even know which one it is.

When AT&T was done, it was distinct. Later, it became a common visual archetype.

Don't worry all, I'll put it on my list.

On Aug.14.2003 at 08:46 AM
Josh’s comment is:

I think I have the answer for the questions about the AT&T logo. Found a thrift AT&T shirt with the logo, the text below and below that it has the slogan "The right choice." Maybe someone should redesign it? Maybe they shouldn't. Does it make a difference?

Service and product will always be the identifying mark. Not a graphic element. I don't fly RyanAir because I like their mark, I fly cause it's cheap and reliable.

Why did all those dot coms fail? Branding is like spackle and products and services are the walls. It just makes it look pretty.

On Oct.15.2003 at 05:49 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Branding is like spackle and products and services are the walls. It just makes it look pretty.

Bad branding just makes it look pretty. Good branding makes it look pretty in a way that connects the company to the customer in an emotional way, in support of their products and services. Good branding will not save a company with bad products and services (theoretically).

On Oct.15.2003 at 06:03 PM
John Yoo’s comment is:

As long as the designed logo speaks of the company's ideas to the intended audience, it is a good design. For example, Rural Electrification poster By Lester Beall carrys its message to viewer cleary.

Aside from that matter, anyone who's knows Lester Beall extensively or knows someone that knows about him, please email me at [email protected]

On Nov.07.2003 at 10:23 AM
denford’s comment is:

This is an area of great interest actually doing a project on it keep me posted.

Denford

On Nov.17.2003 at 06:57 AM
denford’s comment is:


I was about to say the real reason behing these make overs or is it mess overs should be customer focused.

On Nov.17.2003 at 07:37 AM