This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.
Bausch + Lomb, — no longer spelled with an ampersand, now with a plus sign — the eye health company that began in 1853 in Rochester, New York as a small optical shop and has grown into a multi-billion dollar organization with 13,000 employees, now has a revised brand identity to better support their broad offering in over 100 countries. B+L describes their product offering in three categories: Vision Care (with well-know products like SofLens and PureVision), Pharmaceuticals (with products that treat eye conditions including glaucoma, eye allergies, conjunctivitis, dry eye and retinal disease), and Cataract and Vitreoretinal Surgery (delivering intraocular lenses and surgical instruments and devices). Chances are, if you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses, you’re familiar with B+L’s consumer products.
Bausch + Lomb, the global eye health company, today unveiled its redesigned company logo and icon. Both incorporate hues of the company’s traditional blue and green colors, while introducing the plus (+) symbol to represent the organization’s strong commitment to innovation and partnership with practitioners as a leader in eye health.
“Our new corporate identity reflects the ongoing evolution of Bausch + Lomb as we make strides in growing our business for the benefit of medical practitioners, retail partners, consumers and patients around the world,” said Gerald M. Ostrov, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Based on our strong momentum coming out of last year, as well as a number of planned new product launches and market initiatives over the coming months, we believe that 2010 will be a banner year for the company and the millions of people we’re so fortunate to serve each year.”
— Press Release
The previous B+L identity, referred to as “pathways” and designed by Futurebrand in 2004, was an abstract representation of light refraction (something like this. The concept made sense and certainly related to their eye health business, however the execution of the refraction mark, mostly in use, never fulfilled its potential. I say “mostly in use” as one could imagine two colored triangles like these being extended in consistent and interesting ways across a system of packaging and collateral — however, in reality, it was treated like a conventional logo and did little to inform communication standards. Yes, the typography was rather pedestrian and had an awkward use of the ampersand, but it was decently set and only now feels terribly dated in our current landscape.
The new identity by Paula Scher and Lisa Kitschenberg of Pentagram is a clean and modern approach to crafting the Bausch + Lomb wordmark. Pentagram has a write-up on the work over on their blog which discusses a number of the intended readings of the new identity. They highlight the “+” as a medical plus sign conveying “that Bausch + Lomb is open and committed to partnering with the medical community.” While the presence of a medical cross may help to communicate this, the semi-transparent overlays are difficult to perceive as the solid, single-color cross widely associated with medicine. Pentagram also touts the use of transparency as one that suggests vision as well as liquids. While the latter point clearly has potential, the idea of vision could be easily misinterpreted by the challenges present in letter-shape recognition (think of the familiar association with eye-charts) when looking at the common application of this transparency technique in the “B+L” icon.
The identity’s typography, which feels contemporary on the corporate landscape, is set in Nobel BL, based (In use in the logo, the alterations to Nobel are barely recognizable) on Font Bureau’s Nobel designed by Tobias Frere-Jones.
The retention of the blue and green color scheme does have a pharmaceutical connotation out here in western europe, though it should be noted that the previous B+L colors were more inline with this reference. It is also important to recognize that while this color scheme feels appropriate, it does little do distinguish itself in a saturated field as eye health products, at least on the consumer side, are overwhelming blue and green (Examples seen in the product lines of competitors including CIBA Vision, Vistak, Acuvue (Johnson + Johnson), and Alcon).
While I have a heavy appreciation for branding approaches that skip the literal and instead involve the audience through abstract approaches that require interpretation, the visual devices at work in this identity (transparency, medical cross) feel too generic to carry significant B+L meaning or give them something to hang their hat on. While this branding is a significant cut above the competition through craft and execution, the competitive landscape is filled with blue/green attempts at conveying vision. Perhaps what Bausch + Lomb needed more was a clear way to express their breadth of offerings and distinguish themselves from their competitors — a different kind of vision.