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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.

 

Alien Fingers

Reviewed May. 2, 2008 by Armin

Industry / Publishing Tags /

Yellowbook Logo, Before and After

Welcome to, as I found out this morning, the complicated world of Yellow Pages, Yellow Books and Walking Fingers. Like “Xerox” or “Kleenex”, “Yellow Pages” has come to signify the market for those bulky telephone directories that magically appear at your doorstep when you least expect it. Yellow pages have existed since the late 19th century and now comprise a global network of directories published by different phone companies or local entities, and even specialty yellow pages developed for specific neighborhoods and target audiences. The Walking Fingers logo, the “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking” slogan, and Yellow Pages name were first introduced in 1961 by AT&T, and the subsidiary regional operating companies that made up the Bell System, but the logo was never trademarked by AT&T and, actually, AT&T happily allowed others to use the logo — this, of course, was rosy when AT&T was a monopoly and you didn’t have Verizon, or SBC bombarding you with yellow bricks.

Yellow Pages and Walking Finger Logos

Original (top) and other yellow pages logos.

With the Walking Fingers logo available in the public domain, most phone directory publishers have used the logo to gain instant recognition. The problem, of course, is that it’s impossible to distinguish one phone directory from the next — I sure know I can’t, and specially nowadays with all the information available online, phone directories are irremediably obsolete and easier to ignore. Having said that, phone directories, and yellow pages in particular, have enjoyed a revival online, providing easy access to the information that is otherwise unbrowseable in that air-thin paper that paints your fingers black. One of the major players in this field is Yellow Book USA, which publishes the printed Yellow Book and yellowbook.com, and it recently launched a new web site and logo.

I have absolutely zero information on who designed the logo or what was the impetus behind the change. It’s obvious that the logo needed an update, in part because of the typography — hello Serpentine Bold Oblique! — and in other, because I can’t imagine any company being interested in having a logo that anyone else can have. Certainly, that doesn’t mean that you should create a creepy logo. The new walking fingers for Yellowbook are the stuff nightmares are made of, at least mine… I can feel those detached, prickly fingers creeping up my leg to strangle me in my sleep. But I digress. The new typography is more contemporary and follows the lowercasing trend of corporate and consumer names, and the fingers have a more dynamic representation, so the theory is good, but the final execution is awkward. And with the black and yellow combination, I could not help but think of the Sprint logo immediately. Fingers and hands have always been a challenge for designers and, here, the challenge has claimed one more victim.

Thanks to Andrew Kidd for the tip.

Bonus material: New Zealand Yellow Pages ad

 

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