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MoMA Revamps their Logo

But can anybody tell?

Therein lies the beauty of this effort by the MoMA. It’s a nod to typographic history — an action worthy of respect. Bruce Mau was approached by MoMA to “explore a range of possibilities for the new building’s signage — including rounder, more symmetrical typefaces.” What could have been an excuse to put his own voice and indelible mark on the MoMA, Mau decided to keep the same typeface as it was intended from the beginning — Franklin Gothic.

Enter Matthew Carter. Which can mean nothing but success. A nip here, a tuck there and voilą — a historically correct logo is born.

But will people really notice? Or care? Will it make a difference for the MoMA?

I, for one, don’t give a damn what people think or if they notice. I applaud the museum for having the guts to spend millions of dollars in implementing this “new brand” that will probably go unnoticed.

You can read all about it in the New York Times, or if you prefer the original source, here is a scan of the original article by some friendly soul at Typophile.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1608 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Sep.24.2003 BY Armin
WITH 54 COMMENTS
Comments
Tan’s comment is:

Very impressive. One of those things that re-validates this profession for me (especially considering how the spec work discussion is going).

Totally appropriate. Like the loving restoration of Da Vinci's Last Supper.

On Sep.24.2003 at 09:59 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

The ordinary person won't notice this at all. Most designers wouldn't know if they weren't told, either. But, for MoMA, it provides a (slightly) freshened identity that is adapted to their needs. As I'm tweaking typography for a logotype, I often wonder what the CEO or VP/Marketing will say when I do a similar before/after comparison. But, in the end, it's all in the craft, and for a museum, what better reason is there?

On Sep.24.2003 at 10:11 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> One of those things that re-validates this profession for me.

Most definitely Tan. It's design for design's honor (not sake).

On Sep.24.2003 at 11:16 AM
plain*clothes’s comment is:

from what I understand (check out Typographica and Typophile for more info), Carter's primary work is to revamp the corporate typeface -- not the logo specifically. so if you apply those subtle changes to the entire alphabet, I can imagine a text or headline setting (he's working on type for both) would be noticably more refined in color and texture. hopefully we'll be able to see for ourselves soon!

On Sep.24.2003 at 12:33 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

I admit that I loved this. I really did...the sort of sensitivity that really means a lot, that elevates design from those mindless peons who learn Quark and call themselves "designers." The difference between these logos isn't screaming...but its there, its one of those things that if it wasn't done, you'd feel something was wrong.

Still and all--I see the side my mom took when I showed the article to her: "What an asshole." That's what she said about the director of design at MoMA. And as my dad remarked, "There wasn't an idea in the original logo, and there's not one now." Effectively saying that the logo only remains because of equity acquired.

Which I also agree with. Franklin Gothic No. 2 is not an idea. It just isn't. Nor is a lowercase "o." It's cool. It's beautifully done. But its not conceptual.

Does that matter? Nope, not really. And despite the mildly skeptical tone of the article, attention to detail is important, and I'm glad that this effort received some press.

On Sep.24.2003 at 04:20 PM
Sao_Bento’s comment is:

I can tell it's art because it costs a lot of money and doesn't really make a difference, no wait, maybe that's government I'm thinking of. I can tell it's art because only a few "enlightened" people will "get it". I really want to be in the "get it" club - can someone explain to me what I need to do to "get it"? It can't be as simple as just saying "I get it", can it?

On Sep.24.2003 at 06:02 PM
Todd’s comment is:

Someone simply must dissent.

If I were a donor to MoMA, a really big one, I'd have been on the phone to the museum's director about 20 seconds after I read that article to pull my contribution. Think about the opportunity cost. What else could have been done to further the museum's larger goals of promoting modern art? Instead, they allowed Bruce Mau to con them into a self-indulgent masturbatory design exercise, the effect of which, everyone acknowledges, will go completely unnoticed. Completely ridiculous.

EDIT: Sao posted while I was writing this. I wish I'd written what he said, but I'm angier at the in crowd.

On Sep.24.2003 at 06:09 PM
David W’s comment is:

The difference between these logos isn't screaming...but its there, its one of those things that if it wasn't done, you'd feel something was wrong.

Really? did you feel something was wrong before the change?

The old mark was very nice. The new one is still nice. The fact that a few designers can now say its theirs, well good for them. Franklin Gothic No. 2 doesn't lack integrity. It doesn't replicate metal type because it shouldn't.

I, for one, don’t give a damn what people think or if they notice. I applaud the museum for having the guts to spend millions of dollars in implementing this “new brand” that will probably go unnoticed.

My guess is this won't cost a penny Armin, other than design fees. This is a mark that will be rolled out over time. I'm assuming that old MoMA signs won't be replaced until they need to be and cyclical materials like advertising, posters, stationery etc. will just be produced with the new logo when the time comes.

But will people really notice? Or care? Will it make a difference for the MoMA?

Seriously?

On Sep.24.2003 at 06:20 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Seriously?

They are not rhetoric questions. I'm actually asking.

> My guess is this won't cost a penny Armin, other than design fees. I'm assuming that old MoMA signs won't be replaced until they need to be.

According to the article, it will all be rolled out at the same time. Signage, mugs and everything. Hence costly.

"a redesigned MoMA logo, a newly scrubbed face by which the revered institution will soon present itself to the world on signs, coffee mugs and subway ads, and throughout the Yoshio Taniguchi-designed expansion and renovation planned to open near the end of 2004. "

On Sep.24.2003 at 08:25 PM
Patrick’s comment is:

Yes, it will all be rolled out at once, on the new building when it is done. But it won't add to the $650 million being spent as the signs would all be new anyway. Related to the overall cost of the new museum, the logo design fees suddenly become a drop in the bucket. Sure five figures for a *slightly* changed logo would be a lot. But for a refined visual system that will make all the new signage and literature just right, it's nothing. If you're paying $650 for a new outfit to wear to a party, wouldn't you plunk down a couple extra pennies to get your shoes polished?

Now, whether it is just the right amount of visual polish, I'll reserve judgement until it opens.

On Sep.24.2003 at 09:21 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Patrick is right. This has been timed to correspond with the move into the new building, when presumably everything will have to be redone anyway. And they may as well get it right.

That said, I have to admit I was irritated at the (perhaps understandably) bemused tone of the story. The only conclusion that a normal New York Times reader could draw from the information provided is that graphic designers are insane. Ra[ph Caplan used to say that designers are viewed as "exotic menials" by the rest of the world. Here is more proof, if you ask me.

Wouldn't it would be great if we could get a story out there about graphic design as a significant contributor to daily life, instead of a mysterious activity performed at a pitch that only other designers can hear?

On Sep.24.2003 at 09:44 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

The previous comment aside, I applaud Bruce Mau for having the restraint, good judgement, and humility to leave well enough alone.

Almost any other designer would be unable to resist the opportunity to put their own mark on an institution like this.

It takes real maturity -- and a real sense of responsibility to the client and the public -- to be self-effacing when the situation demands it.

On Sep.24.2003 at 09:50 PM
Tan’s comment is:

But a friend and I were just discussing earlier today that wouldn't it have been great if this amount of design restraint was applied to the UPS rebrand? (Sorry, David -- this really is not a cheap shot.)

After what Michael said, I tried to reread the article from a non-designer's pov. It does make the whole thing seem a rather trivial waste of money. Funny in a sad way.

But the same can be said of progressive architecture, or certain kinds of literature, or theoretical physics. It's the nature of some disciplines.

I still applaud it.

On Sep.24.2003 at 10:37 PM
ps’s comment is:

Bruce Mau

overrated

On Sep.24.2003 at 11:06 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

How many of us can tell the difference between the following orchestras: Cleveland, London, New York, Chicago, St. Louis? Some of the best musicians in the world right now, phenomenally talented, passionate, and dedicated.

Much of that energy spent on things your average listener won't hear. Perhaps only a few exceptionally talented and well-disciplined individuals ever would or could.

Well, the same applies here.

In the end, concept and idea reign supreme and for the most part, I don't believe many designers really adhere to that. It amazes me how much time is spent on choosing between ITC Garamond or Adobe Garamond, using Fox River or Strathmore, 80lb. vs 100lb., and how little time is spent on whether the words written deserve to be typeset or the ideas and messages exceed the value of the dead trees they're put on. These are certainly things worth considering, but I've frequently seen rags and H&J preferences become more important than the message. That's retarded.

David--to your point, which makes a lot of sense, the old one was fine. You're right. But, just because you can't see or hear or sense something doesn't mean it isn't there. The sensitivity matters...I'm not saying its magical or anything like that, but its nice to see people paying that sort of respect to something. If people understood and immediately saw everything that designers do...then what would the point of designers be.

MoMA is an art museum, its among the most well-known, and that they subject themselves to these sorts of things is interesting. Maybe it IS Quixotic, maybe they divert too much attention to it. But like I mentioned above, is it THAT bad when designers spend a lot of time choosing between two typefaces that pretty much look the same to anyone else? At least for the MoMA they're more or less obligated to express this level of concern to something they see as integral to their essence.

On Sep.25.2003 at 12:28 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

Bruce Mau

overrated

I used to think this. But, ultimately, he's probably doing something right...maybe he's a good talker, salesman, whatever, but he must be doing something well if his clients continue to come to him. And he WAS right about the MoMA stuff too.

Of course, maybe his clients only come to him because he indulges them better than anyone else, or he listens to them in just the right way. And if that's the case...well, then he deserves to have those clients because sometimes that's what it takes to have those relationships. I don't know.

That said, I've never been totally bowled over by any of his work, but the design he did for ZONE books is enchanting. Those volumes DO feel and look and read differently...the amount of respect he has for those writings, and authors in general, is just wonderful. Plus, any guy who enthusiastically takes on an assignment--"panel fabrics"--that most would run away from is worth a second look. They may not do as much as he says they do, but I love the fire and fury.

On Sep.25.2003 at 12:33 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> The previous comment aside, I applaud Bruce Mau for having the restraint, good judgement, and humility to leave well enough alone.

That's a point I was trying to make in my introduction, I'm glad Michael articulated it better.

> Instead, they allowed Bruce Mau to con them into a self-indulgent masturbatory design exercise, the effect of which, everyone acknowledges, will go completely unnoticed. Completely ridiculous.

I see your point Todd and also Sao's, although I could have done without the his pessimistic sarcasm.

But, there is absolutely nothing wrong in pursuing excellence in our craft. I think we need it. Send a message to all the people who think they are designers what it really takes to create an extraordinary work of graphic design — not art.

I strongly disagree with the notion that Bruce Mau conned anyone. What, suddenly graphic designers can con clients? Please.

> That said, I have to admit I was irritated at the (perhaps understandably) bemused tone of the story.

I agree, this seems to be a common complaint on Typophile and Typographica (although all those type guys are ecstatic about it). But, it's still a good thing that it got some coverage on a major newspaper.

On Sep.25.2003 at 09:03 AM
Todd’s comment is:

I strongly disagree with the notion that Bruce Mau conned anyone. What, suddenly graphic designers can con clients? Please.

What? Designers don't ever convince clients to pay for things that are "neat" and "cool" but don't have an impact the client's business goals? Maybe that's not a con, but I claim poetic license...

I could have done without the his pessimistic sarcasm.

Who ever really says, "What we could use around here is more pessimistic sarcasm." And yet, there seems to be an unending supply. It seems there is a problem with the fundamentals of economics.

This topic seems to scream out for the contrast between previous posts about social consciousness in design choices and "making a difference" and this MoMA project which is a case of design for design's sake which, almost literally, makes no difference. But no one's really taken that bait.

On Sep.25.2003 at 10:09 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

This topic seems to scream out for the contrast between previous posts about social consciousness in design choices and "making a difference" and this MoMA project which is a case of design for design's sake which, almost literally, makes no difference. But no one's really taken that bait.

Ordinarily, I think you'd be right. For any other company, a simple redrawing of an existing logotype would seem a frivolous undertaking. But for an arts museum, it just makes sense. They are undergoing a massive renovation, so getting their entire graphic house in order makes sense as well. I have a feeling (and someone said it earlier in the thread) that the real update will be in the use of the new typeface in their materials and signs.

On Sep.25.2003 at 12:06 PM
pk’s comment is:

how typical of the museum industry to spend piles of money to change very little about something they hated to begin with. it took me about 45 seconds of stare to figure out any difference whatsoever.

that said, i've been looking for a decent cut of franklin gothic, and it's nice to know that i may now never be able to, considering a lot of typographers may consider carter's baby the end-all-beat-all revision and therefore decline to make a publicly-available revision. i'd really like to see a PDF of the old cut compared with the new one.

i have yet to find a cut that has the sturdiness and warmth of the (admittedly crappy) evidence i've seen of benton's original work.

On Sep.25.2003 at 01:16 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> What? Designers don't ever convince clients to pay for things that are "neat" and "cool" but don't have an impact the client's business goals?

Not the good (decent) ones.

On Sep.25.2003 at 03:19 PM
Tom’s comment is:

OK, so... Why is this successful when we haven't seen the full implementation and the VH1 logo is not? From what I have read, all this has going for it is years of association, a famous originator and graphic design self-indulgence of hmmm... perfect typography. As stated earlier, the client wanted a little "o"! What is it communicating? Is pretty enough? I'm sure Matthew Carter has done a phenominal job translating Franklin metal type to digital, but in the end how does that have anything to do with the message of a logo?

And before anyone gets in a tizzy, these are questions I am asking myself as well.

On Sep.25.2003 at 04:57 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Tom--

Well, that's what I was saying earlier. Idea? What idea? There's no concept in this logo!

Beside the point though. It's like the STRAND bookstores in NYC...does that logo mean anything...no...need it be replaced with a conceptual one...no, that would obliterate the equity the current one has. What's more important--conceptual quality, or established equity and recognition? I'd lean towards equity and recognition.

Todd--

Yeah, again, I see where you're coming from and I don't necessarily disagree. But I maintain that designers should cover the minute details especially when they directly impact the Big Picture. If the details will have little impact in the long run, concerning yourself with them is a waste of time. For MoMA, these details mattered to them and thus the attention was warranted.

On Sep.25.2003 at 05:24 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

I think there absolutely is a concept at work here. It may not be as blatant as a picture of Philip Johnson or Mies. Modernism, or at least part of it, is about clean lines, simplicity, lack of adornment, pure functionality. I think the simple monogram, in clean FG No.2, embodies these ideals. That, to me, is concept.

On Sep.25.2003 at 05:57 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Jonsel--

Maybe I'm too much of a Ted Fabella follower...three layers of meaning to every logo, etc. And there's something about marks that I like a lot too. Personal preferences. I see what you mean though.

There's more I could say but I'll sound like an uber-geek from hell and if any girls I know are reading this they'll never talk to me again.

On Sep.25.2003 at 08:26 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Don't go all Fabella on me! He trained me too. ;-)

I guess it does come down to personal preferences. I'm definitely a mark guy, but I love it when typography can do the job alone.

And dude, if you're typing here to meet girls...

On Sep.25.2003 at 09:34 PM
big steve’s comment is:

on a related note...

my friend works for the MoCA here in los angeles, and she said that all the stationary, pens, envalopes, etc dissappeared a few days ago... evidentally they are FINALLY replacing their hideous logo.

I don't know what the new one will look like, but the website has no sign of the old one (it was kinda like colorful kids blocks and/or a playstation ad).

kinda like this but with a different "M" - thie colous alone make me wanna puke!

On Sep.26.2003 at 05:51 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Coincidentally, the original LA MOCA logo was designed by the same firm as the NY MoMA logo, Chermayeff & Geismar.

As far as logo's with "concepts," the LA MOCA logo had a lot more concept going on than the MoMA logo -- the O's and A's rendered as different geometric shapes, different primary colors, etc. It was obviously an attempt to "evoke the basic elements of art" or something to that effect.

For my money, though, it simply isn't as enduring as the MoMA logo, which I agree has no "concept." But what's the concept of the Tiffany logotype? What's the concept of the Chanel logotype? Would these be better or more effective if they had some clever visual trick?

Organizations that traffic in taste and style, whether fashion companies or museums, often opt out of the logo game. It's a matter of letting the design values be communicated by experiencing the entity itself, rather than its logo.

On Sep.26.2003 at 08:27 AM
Tom’s comment is:

Organizations that traffic in taste and style, whether fashion companies or museums, often opt out of the logo game. It's a matter of letting the design values be communicated by experiencing the entity itself, rather than its logo.

Good point! Thanks. So in the long term(which ofcourse this one has been) a solid, good logo typemark can overtime communicate the values and "concept" of the brand. The benefit of this "type" solution allows the consumer to add their own personal meaning to the concept.

So again, because it's top of mind, comparing this to VH1 and the question of good vs. bad logo and is association enough? Why did we immediately not like VH1? Because it was non-traditional in a typography sense? We pride ourselves on being non-traditional in many respects. Just asking more questions.

On Sep.26.2003 at 08:47 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Why did we immediately not like VH1? Because it was non-traditional in a typography sense?

Tom you are just provoking me aren't you?

Craft issues first: obviously the new MoMA logo is the epitomy of excellence, call it self-indulgent if you (not you personally Tom) want, that's your own loss. VH1 is in my subjective opinion the poorest execution possible, but I have said enough about that.

Re: Non-traditional

I have no problem with non-traditional solutions, I love non-traditional shit. if done well. The only example I can think of this morning is Lucent; how non-traditional was that? In all respects: shape, industry, color, associations (don't some people call it the devil's asshole?). But it worked, conceptually, structurally and it separated Lucent from the rest of the industry wannabe's. VH1 is simply trying to imitate MTV and latch on to some of their viewers with eye candy (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Re: Traditional

> What is it communicating? Is pretty enough?

We can all safely say that the MoMA logo is "traditional" right? Brand association and lack of concept aside, the type treatment represents strength, commitment, stature and many other intangible ideas. I would also not label the MoMA logo as "pretty," but for this discussion's sake and only as it applies to this logo (and the image it represents as I stated above) "pretty" is enough.

> Why is this successful when we haven't seen the full implementation and the VH1 logo is not?

There are things that just work from the get-go, that some of us "enlightened" folk (as was said earlier) get it. We know it's going to work, I have no doubts about that. Again, shifting to VH1 now, the overall program looks more integrated (I don't like it) but it does look it.

Time will only enhance MoMA's identity and I'm sure it will be fucking killer.

On Sep.26.2003 at 09:12 AM
Tom ’s comment is:

Armin - I agree with everything you are saying.

I guess the crazier/deeper question in my brain is...

We(designers) seem to have a box of what even non-traditional/experimental can fit in, and still be called graphic design. Is that OK? We continuosly applaud and award good sound design based on the traditions of typography, composition, illustration, etc., which we should. I believe the primary concern should be the message, but are we limiting ourselves with traditional approaches? Maybe this should be another thread and not pursued on a Friday, but something I've been rolling around the empty chambers for a while.

On Sep.26.2003 at 10:04 AM
ps’s comment is:

not exactly along the thread, but related: how much dough do you guys think a designer should make on an identity such as moMa?

On Sep.26.2003 at 10:23 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Complicated answer.

It depends on what MoMA's annual revenue is -- in ticket sales, as well as donations. I don't have their annual report or anything.

Their online sales alone are $30 million annually. Total gross cash flow, including operations and sales, if i had to make a pure guess -- would probably be around $130 million annually. Don't quote me.

Anyway, the point is -- they're no small fry. The cost of an identity should correlate somewhat with its value to the institution it represents. In this case, if the creative fees cost 1-2% of just one year of MoMA's annual numbers, it wouldn't be totally out of line for me. You do the math.

Too little? Too much? This is a good question ps -- anyone else care to weigh in?

On Sep.26.2003 at 12:08 PM
ps’s comment is:

i base my estimates based on the time that i'm planning to invest. not on a percentage of someone's revenues. obviously if its a large institution, i can imagine that i can allocate more resources, manpower to a project and therefore my fees will be higher. but where is the cut-off. how do you set the boundaries. if the moMa design fee would have been $100,000 and divided by time spent it would come out at $500/hour would that be overcharging or does the clients size justify it. i was just curious. to me there seem to be these different billing models which seem to make identities go from $10,000 to millions. which makes it hard for anyone to judge what i reasonable fee would be.

On Sep.26.2003 at 01:10 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Yup. Exactly why estimating is more of an art, rather than a science.

That's why you can't always equate design work to billable hours required. It's called 'value billing' -- which I think is fair in most cases. Especially logos.

....

As a side note, Bradley asked about GAG's pricing guideline in another thread, so I looked it up to see what they'd recommend. It's hillarious -- for a $130 million company (my est.) like MoMA, the range they suggested for a brand identity was $50,000 - $500,000.

Wow, that's sure helpful 'guideline' information. That book's just useless.

On Sep.26.2003 at 01:19 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Regarding pricing identity, the main concrete variable is how complicated the decision-making process is. The original MoMA identity could have been designed in your head and presented over the phone: "Take a typeface called Franklin Gothic, set it tight in all caps except the O" etc. That takes about about two minutes. It's all the due diligence up front, and all the selling-through on the back end, that takes all the time.

There are three other factors that come into play in pricing: first, what the market will bear (how much does this kind of thing usually cost?); second, what the client can afford; and third -- and this is the funny one -- how much you have to charge them to make them pay attention.

It's taken me a long time to understand how that last one works. If you charge too little, they won't take the process seriously. It's like joining a health club: you can do sit-ups on your living room floor and acheive the same result, but it's paying those membership fees that make you take it seriously.

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:16 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Speaking of revamped logos, this just in from Wired:

For the first time in several years, Apple looks poised to refresh its famous logo.

One of the world's most recognizable corporate symbols -- the Apple logo -- is about to get a silvery chrome finish.

Soon all will be Pantherized.

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:30 PM
Aaron’s comment is:

I also agree with Armin.

There is a lot to be said for tradition. The LA MoCA logo, from Big Steve's message, should show us that. It was highly stylized for it's time, but many years later it's "style" has come to pass and now it looks like a logo for cheap hairspray from 1984. Now look at the MoMA logo. It's need for only slight alterations are proof that a well designed font, chosen wisely for an institution that has been and will be around for a long time, makes a well designed logo, not an undistinguished/non conceptual one. Beauty presents itself in many different ways.

On that note, it certainly wasn't necessary to pay Bruce Mau and Mr. Carter as much as they did. But it's a famous museum with a powerful reputation. They couldn't hire just any designer to do this, or their donors (a non-profit's most important consideration) would have questioned any move they made. What's in a name? Well, I'm guessing if you're a wealthy art aficionado (most likely the MoMA's typical donor profile), everything. MoMA had to go big. It's working too. Look at all the attention they're getting.

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:39 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Also, just out of curiousity, had anyone ever heard of Rob Janoff, the designer of the Apple logo? I've certainly heard of Susan Kare, but never Janoff.

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:40 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Also, just out of curiousity, had anyone ever heard of Rob Janoff, the designer of the Apple logo?

HA! That's funny, I ran across that guy's web site last year maybe, I can't remember why, he's in Chicago so there must be a connection there. And I thought the same thing "Who, what, who's this?"

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:51 PM
Tom’s comment is:

Does that new Apple have a UPS horizon line? Uh-oh!

On Sep.26.2003 at 02:55 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> There are three other factors that come into play in pricing: first, what the market will bear (how much does this kind of thing usually cost?); second, what the client can afford; and third -- and this is the funny one -- how much you have to charge them to make them pay attention.

I'm going to tattoo this somewhere. Freaking brilliant way to look at it. Thanks for sharing Michael.

> Does that new Apple have a UPS horizon line? Uh-oh!

Oh God. I'm going to throw up.

First, Robert Palmer dies, then this. Make it stop.

On Sep.26.2003 at 03:35 PM
Bram’s comment is:

Forgive me if this isn't the most appropriate place for this, but I've been wanting to rant. And since the topic is kinda stretching to address other logo revisions . . .

Northwest Airlines seems to have redesigned its logo. One of my all-time Modernist corporate favorites — graphically balanced, very clever, totally appropriate, easily reproducible.

In a seeming bid to make it more friendly, or perhaps brand the company as NWA [anyone remember them?], they've removed just about all graphic appeal.

Here's the best part. From what I've seen at the airport, on the airplanes, the little triangle is always pointing to the front. That means the on the starboard side, it points northeast.

Makes the slight change to MoMA look even better.

On Sep.26.2003 at 03:43 PM
Tom’s comment is:

how much you have to charge them to make them pay attention.

I saw this work first hand at Coke; Brand Managers NEVER went with the lowest bidders. To them it reflected what you thought of the project and their brand.

On Sep.26.2003 at 04:07 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Northwest Airlines seems to have redesigned its logo.

Probably deserves its own discussion, but I'll just say that it was about time. That old NWA logo looked old and dingy (yes, that's a new adjective for logos, feel free to throw it around in your own critiques). While I don't love the new non-italic version, the logo does look sharper and more in tune with today.

On Sep.26.2003 at 04:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Oh man, you are so wrong here Armin.

The old NWA logo was one of my all-time favorites. It read just perfectly -- the italicized N joined with the compass point to make the W. And appropriately, it was pointed NW.

Since the new logo loses the italized N as a reference, that equilateral triangle could be pointing west, east, or down. It's also awkwardly off-centered. Very, very sloppy.

And i don't know if anyone else sees this, but the third letter makes me read "no way".

I mourn the old logo's passing.

On Sep.26.2003 at 06:59 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

I vote for the old Northwest logo too. I was amazed that they decided to brand it as NWA, not just because of the equity already established by the rap group (maybe they don't have enough African-Americans in Minnesota to hear about these things...wait, couldn't they have asked Prince?) but because en-duh-bull-you-ay takes longer to say, being one syllable longer than north-west-air-lines. I guess the emphasis goes on the duh.

Classics, like Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video, never go out of style.

On Sep.27.2003 at 12:30 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

Do you think Northwest did research to establish whether the name "Northwest" was holding them back in the marketplace? I wonder whether this is something they decided upon internally or if it was driven by customer reticence to fly with them on routes that were outside the Northwestern US. It's not a relevant name for them any longer; they fly other places. "Northwest" itself was a shortening of "Northwest Orient", I believe.

I tend to dislike initials because they don't often mean anything except to people within the organization. Also, if you use them, then use them, don't provide a crutch like the tiny "northwest airlines" type below them. This only creates confusion. Sell yourself as NWA, if that's what you want.

The Northwest mark was one of my favorites. Purely brilliant. The planes themselves needed updating. I like the overall silver scheme, although I wonder if it will end up looking like American's patchwork silver, rivets and new composite parts and all.

On Sep.27.2003 at 05:42 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> the italicized N joined with the compass point to make the W. And appropriately, it was pointed NW.

Holy mother! I had never seen that. After reading your comment I thought "What the fuck is Tan talking about? He is probably just angry because of the spooning comments" Can't believe I never saw it.

While I don't completely take back back my original gut reaction comment, I probably would have thought about it twice just because of this little NW trick with the compass. That is pure graphic wit. Ah what the hell... to heir is human, I like the old logo better... it was friday and I got lured by the silvery gradients of the new logo.

Call me a wuss if you like for back-tracking. I can humbly admit when I'm wrong.

duh

On Sep.27.2003 at 09:54 AM
eric’s comment is:

wuss

On Sep.27.2003 at 11:47 AM
Tan’s comment is:

double wuss.

I can see how most will miss the "W" -- but it's like the hidden arrow in Fedex's. If anything, they could've tweaked the letterform to accentuate it.

And I do agree that their branding needed a little update. New plane graphics, more modern typeface for text, etc. But the mark itself should've been left alone.

but your humbleness will make me reconsider the spooning offer.

On Sep.27.2003 at 12:24 PM
J’s comment is:

I'm shocked as well seeing the NorthWest logo having a new letter on board and losing the pure wit it once had. I'm seeing this as a case of an updated purpose (adding an 'a' and showing a full acronym for whatever intelligible need) putting down a old solid concept and quite feebly using what's left of it.

Also, I've always identified NorthWest with the solid red and white colors. I think the move in updating their colors is on the same wavelength as Apple's move.

btw, it's my first post here, sorry to be slightly off-topic :) Really great discussions you guys are having around here.

On Sep.28.2003 at 11:55 AM
Tan’s comment is:

btw, thanks to Bram for bringing the NWA logo up for discussion. Good call.

Same to Sam for Apple's. Gracias.

We should have an alert status signal or something that posters can trigger whenever a logo, good or bad, gets a makeover. Like Batman's spotlight...

On Sep.29.2003 at 01:22 AM
Bram’s comment is:

Hey, thanks for letting me take you off-topic and vent.

Agree that it could've used some updating, but at its essence, it was one of those logos that's so appropriate and simple that you wonder how it ever could be anything else.

Now, we're left to just await the remake, "North by NWA."

On Sep.29.2003 at 10:01 AM