Launched in 2000, Pandora is a music streaming service or, in their words, a “music discovery platform” that works based on stations the user creates and works more like a radio than the on-demand nature of market juggernaut, Spotify. Based on users’ upvotes and downvotes, Pandora’s “Music Genome Project” algorithm will customize and personalize each station. As advanced as it sounds, the lack of direct, on-demand choice feels almost quaint by today’s demands but, like good, old-fashioned radio, it still packs a punch in letting you discover new music. Yesterday, along with the launch of Pandora Plus, Pandora introduced a new logo. No design credit given.
Music is a personal experience for everyone, from the artists creating it all the way to the fans listening to it. And as Pandora continues to evolve the most personal music experience, our new look embraces the dynamic range of sound and color, visualizing the energy and emotion that artists pour into the creation of music, and that we feel as listeners. Our dynamic brand is composed of form, color and pattern, which we implemented into the new P icon and serves as your portal into the unique and diverse range of music you love.
The old wordmark — Noted here in 2013 — was fine; not great but not offensive and somewhat recognizable. The new wordmark is the blandest of the not-recent-anymore trends of geometric sans and curving one part of the letter but not others. It’s competent but, OMG, it’s so generic, un-interesting and, as I’ve mentioned before, I find that kind of “r” (and also “n”) grating to the core. I don’t denounce this wordmark fully because there is nothing technically wrong with it and it does the job it’s supposed to do — spell out the service’s name — but it’s completely devoid of personality and lacking ambition. The only redeemable, conceptual quality it has is that all the letters in the name are curve-based (no “v”s or “y”s) so the geometric sans approach yields a decent set of circular shapes. Lastly, the ® is distractingly big.
It’s understandable that the wordmark has no visual pow-wow as all the pow-wow has been built into the monogram. Its shape is somewhat interesting with a heavy top and at least there is a visual connection with the wordmark in the curving of the lower right bottom of the stem — not that that makes that approach right but at least it’s consistent. The “P” is then infused with a heavy dose of late twentieth-century MTV, early twenty-first-century VH1, and recent TBS-ing where, surprise surprise, it can be rendered in a bunch of different ways to convey the variety of music and listeners of Pandora. I would be impressed if this were a novel approach… especially in the music-related industry, where it’s been done before. The executions are fine and visually cool — that’s not a problem — it’s that it has a “me too!” feel that’s hard to shake off. I feel like a jerk — not too heavily, though — for being so negative about something that is ostensibly decent, appropriate for the service, and an engaging coat of paint for the audience, but unfortunately it falls flat and feels like it’s trying very hard to compete with the visual variety of Spotify, the street creed of Tidal, and the scale of iTunes Radio (Apple Music) but not quite getting there, not even with a generous amount of upvotes.
Thanks to David Maron for the tip.