Guest Editorial by Design Maven
Mention the name CISCO and several word association images are conjured in my mind. The Classic 1950s Western Television Series starring Duncan Renaldo, CISCO and Leo Carrillo, Pancho. The other association, WAR, a Prominent Funk Rock Band of the 1970s and 1980s with their Gut-Wrenching, Booming-Bass, Soul-Stirring hit CISCO KID which was a staple in my musical diet for many years.
This is not about the legendary television series nor funk rock hit records. Rather the corporation CISCO SYSTEMS, which established itself as the manufacturer of equipment used to create Internet networks and phone systems — routers and switches that make up 60 percent of the company’s $28 billion in revenue — it now wants to become the company that consumers think of for voice, video, data and wireless products.
CISCO’s Identity has undergone several incarnations throughout the years. The previous Identity (bridge enclosed in a box) was created in-house.
Gary McCavitt, Creative Director, Worldwide Brand Strategy and Identity initiated the Identity and Brand Development for the current project. He had the support of CEO John Chambers who wanted some of the DNA of the bridge incorporated in the new Identity. This project is part of a new marketing campaign: “Welcome to the Human Network”.
The new redesigned CISCO Identity is the result of two old hands, Masters of Identity Practice Joe “Phenom” Finocchiaro and Jerry “The King” Kuyper. They first met in the early 70s, when they were in school at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, The Basel School of Design. Later in their careers they collaborated at several of the First Tier Identity Consultancies.
Joe had already been working with Bob Jones, Senior Art Director at Cisco, to develop a corporate serif and sans serif font family. When Joe received the call to redesign the Identity for Cisco, Joe immediately contacted his friend Jerry Kuyper, currently an independent identity consultant.
The former bridge in a box Identity presented multiple problems to me: It was confining, limited in visual meaning and scope. Furthermore, always reminded me of the bars in a graphic equalizer or bar chart.
The new Identity is streamlined, it adequately addresses the goals and aspirations of management’s vision of how it sees itself, what it has become and where it wants to go. Joe Phenom and The King breathed life into an otherwise visually cluttered Identity.
Brevity, Clarity and Verve were incorporated to Support Management Vision. Identities need to Accurately Reflect Corporate Mission, Voice, Image and Culture. In that Respect, The New Cisco Identity is a Success. This Identity should last Cisco a Couple of Decades without Revitalization even through Merger and Acquisition.
This writer wonders if the 100 Million Simoleons invested in the new CISCO marketing campaign resulted in the Corporation acquiring usage rights to WAR Classic foot stomping music CISCO KID for advertising and promotion. Current campaigns are incorporating classic hits as Anthems to enhance, differentiate and sell their products. If not the lyrics, at least the Anthem for CISCO advertising should incorporate WAR, CISCO KID, booming bass and heart pounding beat to signal change complimenting the new Identity perfectly as it dances in unisom to the beat.
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty ‘Hi-yo…
DM King, can you share your initial observations of the Cisco Identity?
KING Joe and I noted the existing Cisco Systems logo had several unusual aspects:
— the length of the name forced the logotype to appear small and the bridge symbol to appear heavy
— the condensed logotype related to the vertical elements in the bridge but was not easily readable
— the existing bridge did not appear to be supported above the water which reinforced the perception of a bar chart
DM Can you share the Criteria of Cisco Identity Project?
KING Several important criteria were established at the onset:
— the communicative name would be Cisco not Cisco Systems
— John Chambers was interested in maintaining some DNA of the Cisco bridge
— ease of reproduction was critical
— our work needed to align with the new brand positioning
McCavitt encouraged us to explore the full breadth of options, insisting he would “rather rein us in than feel we had overlooked any opportunities”.
DM Please expound on the name change from Cisco Systems to Cisco.
KING Shortening the name to Cisco allowed for more focus on the name. Joe and I explored maintaining the visual equities of the condensed font while improving the forms and legibility. As the project progressed we felt the open round letter forms were more approachable and worked better with the Cisco name.
DM Please expound on the Merit of keeping the DNA of Bridge.
KING In addition to our bridge studies, a complete range of non bridge concepts was explored and presented. In hindsight the bridge concept was always difficult to beat. It has been a part of the visual identity of Cisco Systems since the early days of the company. The bridge concept has always been effective as a metaphor for connection and interaction. Today, as Cisco moves into new businesses and markets, the bridge concept is more relevant than ever.
DM What were the Reproduction Problems with the old bridge vs the streamlined bridge?
KING The previous logo had caused reproduction challenges in its ability to be scaled down and applied on small devices. This was a driving factor in exploring new alternatives. We examined bridges of varying complexity with the goal of reaching a simplified bridge that was easy to reproduce. At one point we were working on directions that were reduced down to five elements. There it was clear the bridge had lost its essence. As Cisco continues to move into consumer businesses it is even more important that the logo can be reproduced across a wide range of media, from product identification to various screens.
DM Cisco is based in San Jose, Joe is in New York and You’re in Westport. Did the locations add to the challenge of doing this project?
KING Joe and I made several presentations to the Cisco team in San Jose early in the project. Once we had established our relationship with the Cisco team, we agreed that all additional meetings would be online. Joe and I have the rare ability to work together, literally on each others files, in a harmonious manner.
As part of Clinton’s Global Initiative, John Chambers recently announced he wanted to reduce the carbon emissions of Cisco by cutting travel and using networked technologies for communications. We were glad to do our part for this initiative. This project could not have been done in this manner five years ago. Without the Internet this immediacy of communication and exchange of ideas would not have been possible.
DM Did the project entail any work beyond the logo development?
KING We developed recommendations on their partner and affiliate logos, tagline usage, stationery system and initial identity standards. We worked closely with their internal team and consulted on numerous other issues.
DM Any other closing thoughts?
KING I think Cisco is doing well at communicating how the internet has transformed the ways we live, work and play. The CISCO home page has a link to an array of sites that really demonstrate the significance of Welcome to the Human Network.
DM Mr. Kuyper, thank you for your time and attention, I trust you and Joe will join us online for discussion and discourse of the Revitalized CISCO Identity.
KING Thank you for taking the time to further your understanding of our project, DM. I would be pleased to join the discussion.