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Stock Photo Rebranding Month

It seems like the latest trend in every industry is to rebrand, and why not? If you have the money, flaunt it, but put it to good use. First one to change their logo was Photodisc, not sure why they even bothered since Getty has swallowed them whole as it has done with the rest of the industry. The second one, and this just happened yesterday, is Corbis, getting rid of the so-recognizable swirly thing by Hornall Anderson and replaced it with some sort of PostModernisticAvantGarde looking piece of type by Segura Inc. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are very pretty logos. Pretty. Not interesting nor intriguing and far from surprising.

These two logos represent the latest approach to rebranding: let’s just devoid brands from any personality they had and spent so many years in acquiring and replace it with these generic looking, and oh-so similar, typographic designs. Reminds me a lot of this discussion we had a while back. I know you can’t always be too literal or specific with logos, and with both companies selling so many products, it was important to have a logo that encompassed every aspect of each company, but I wonder if personality is not part of a company anymore.

Thanks to Felix for the heads up on Corbis.

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ARCHIVE ID 1416 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Apr.02.2003 BY Armin
Sam’s comment is:

In contrast (slightly) to the UPS rebranding and their stated "broadening of capabilities"--in other words, an attempt to actually change the brand along with the logo--Corbis and Photodisc (here by the way) have merely changed their logo. Yawn. Their original logos were forgettable, the new ones are equally banal (for better or worse, since the brand isn't being changed), while the real shifts are happening in the boardroom as these companies conglom together.

On Apr.02.2003 at 03:48 PM
felix’s comment is:

my sentiments as well.

and while getty owns cool grey 19, corbis gets wiggy with warm grey 12.


On Apr.02.2003 at 04:13 PM
anthony’s comment is:

I think photodisc needed an update, and they are rebranding a bit beyond just the logo to give them a little credit, they have changed there sales format into this confusing red, green, blue tiered thing, but I do think they needed something to move them away from the terribly cheesy photography they started with when RF was pretty new. Now they have tried to juice up thier selection a bit. As for being part of the greater Getty I agree, all they do is confuse pricing and make things more complex by having all those brands still. And all corbis is doing is playing catch up to Getty, man that Corbis site used to be so terrible to use I am glad they are copying Getty's approach to image searching (almost exactly), but that is just me.

On Apr.02.2003 at 05:00 PM
Justin’s comment is:

It says a lot when a company can stand by their original branding (i.e. Adobe). It makes me think that the company was based on a good foundation and plan on staying that way forever.

In the future, when the design community looks back on today's current branding trends, I believe they will say something like this: "That piece looks very year 2000."

On Apr.02.2003 at 06:00 PM
Eric’s comment is:

>I wonder if personality is not part of a company anymore.

I think it's "enduring personality" that isn't part of a company anymore.

It's almost as if companies don't want timeless logos. Or maybe they just don't want to give the logo enough time to become familiar.

I'll bet you Corbis does something else in 5-10 years, tops. If they're still around, that is.

On Apr.02.2003 at 06:34 PM
Jon’s comment is:

My first reaction: why do both treatments look very 70's?

Corbis' original mark was interesting and had some concept to it. I'm just not sure what these changes mean. Is it pure style? I wonder if Photodisc's new logotype was borne out of a desire to mimic Photonica's logotype with the open 'p'.

Less than inspiring redesigns.

On Apr.02.2003 at 06:54 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Related to this, how does one 'sell' a client on a type-only logo? I have a thing for them, but they only seem viable for companies that have been around long enough to build name recognition.

I've done type-only solutions for clients, but rarely did I see any compelling argument to go with it beyond 'well, it looks nice.'

On Apr.02.2003 at 06:57 PM
Jon’s comment is:

type-only solutions

I tend to see the type solution of value when you want the other elements of an identity system to carry a greater burden of the task. For example, logotypes are popular in fashion because the brand image is really carried through with color, photography and, of course, the product. The logotype is there as more of an endorsement and carrier of the name.

Logos take time to build recognition and value, whereas a logotype begins building equity in the name of the organization immediately. This path is also common among organizations that are afraid of linking their business to any particular image. In this case, it has less to do with strategy and more to do with lack of vision.

In terms of selling these solutions, you simply have to explain what different type-styles connote — i.e. traditional, ultra-modern, rustic — and then create a graphic language that builds on that basis. Most consumers will relate to type only on a very broad scale, so unless there is a strong concept built in to the design, the other elements will carry the system.

On Apr.02.2003 at 07:49 PM
Damien’s comment is:

Justin -

Interesting point about companies standing behind their original branding. Adobe has in fact rebranded itself before - when Marva Warnock (wife of John Warnock) orginally did the first Adobe logo and branding. They then redesigned the logo in house some time later - but you're right that they have stuck with the 'A' mark since then.

However, they're packaging has changed in design since then. And in fact, alledgedly (from a reliable source) the marketing person in charge of a previous packaging redesign, which was so badly received and 'off brand' was let go. Obviously not just for the packaging but for a general misalignment of brand activities.

It does take a certain confidence to know the image you wish to be perceived and to also have an organization that can produce that identity and experience. And I think it does, like you say impress upon people that the company is consistent, reliable etc. Sort of like UPS was...

On the other hand, equally 'confident' companies like Burton Snowboards and MTV have always had the same logo but with variations of artwork applied to it.

On Apr.02.2003 at 08:47 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

>In this case, it has less to do with strategy and more to do with lack of vision.

So companies have to have a logo/mark/symbol and a type-only something or other? Shouldn't the type of business the company is in or the industry it is in dictate what should be used?

On Apr.02.2003 at 09:58 PM
Jon’s comment is:


I think you might be intertwining packaging design and corporate identity a little. Obviously, the design of a company's product packaging affects their image. However, packaging design should be a reflection of the corporate brand. This allows for packaging aesthetics to be upgraded over time while still supporting the underlying corporate values.

On Apr.02.2003 at 10:32 PM
Jon’s comment is:

So companies have to have a logo/mark/symbol and a type-only something or other? Shouldn't the type of business the company is in or the industry it is in dictate what should be used?

You're right here. I didn't make myself very clear. My point was that sometimes, because a company has a lack of corporate and brand vision, they prefer to have a simple, type-only solution for their identity. They may not really understand what a symbol could do for them. In one instance I worked on last year, the CEO really believed that the name of his company was enough to build a brand on. I disagreed. He won. ;-)

The type of business absolutely can affect whether or not a logo is worth having and whether they should be spending money building equity in a pictorial or graphic symbol. Sometimes, in a category filled with type-only solutions, a logo could be a good strategic solution to differentiating the company from its competitors. Other times, it's a waste of effort that won't translate into increased revenue.

On Apr.02.2003 at 10:47 PM
Damien’s comment is:

It is not always as important for the company to have a logo or brand identity as it is the product or service it is going to sell to the customer.

I think in most cases it takes the same effort to 'build a brand' on a name as it is a mark - depending on the type of business

But I agree, there will be many cases where identities are not seen as much as they are typed in text - for instance our own industry. Most of the time we see the names of design or brand firms, we see them in type and not as their identities. Not that we're necessarily a target customer of those brands.

I don't think a symbol or mark requires a more enhanced strategic vision to utilize over a type only solution. Every time, it will be the way an organization choses to do business that dictates whether they are capable of defining, building and managing their brand - regardless of what it looks like.

On Apr.02.2003 at 11:18 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Sorry I haven't been more involved in this discussion. I just had a lil' something to add about this: type-only solutions

In the stock agency industry nobody pulls it off better than:

That's a type solution with personality.

On Apr.03.2003 at 04:46 AM
Eric’s comment is:

>That's a type solution with personality.

It's also a name and a word with personality.

"Veer" is a great word. There's a lot of industries it could have worked in. (Though admittedly it would've been less than stellar in the automotive tire, brake, and front-end industries...)

On Apr.03.2003 at 07:41 AM
luxe’s comment is:

correct me if i'm wrong but isnt Veer a division of Getty? They have something to do with one another. Charles Anderson sold his library off to Veer. I guess hes cashing out early.

On Apr.03.2003 at 02:47 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

From Photo District News Thanks Bob.

Corbis' "Crop," the biggest and most audacious catalogue to cross this desk in some time, is not so much a catalogue as a collection of poster-sized images folded into a looseleaf book. The damn thing is so big (some prints measure 38"26") it has to be laid out on the floor to be properly viewed. Pictures by Michael Prince, Ron Watts, Douglas Kirkland and Gary Houlder are truly worth cutting down the extra trees for paper. Though Corbis had recently seemed like the sleeping giant of the photo industry, "Crop" is the beginning of what promises to be a major marketing push.

Preview it here and order it here.

On Apr.03.2003 at 03:12 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

>Charles Anderson sold his library

>off to Veer. I guess hes cashing out early.

If you've ever had to deal with ordering something from the CA site or, god-forbid, contacting 'customer service' you would see that as a good thing.

(Yes, I am an unhappy customer that won't let it go ;o)

That said, it appears that CSAImages.com is still very much open for orders.

On Apr.03.2003 at 03:38 PM
Nick Finck’s comment is:

Not that the ezine I work with has anything to do with stock photography other than an article and resource or two on the subject... we just published an article on our rebranding process... it's probably old hat for most of you, but for those new to the process, it could be an interesting read:

The process of redesigning a logo by Kristof Saelen


- Nick

On Apr.03.2003 at 03:58 PM
Grant’s comment is:

correct me if i'm wrong but isn't Veer a division of Getty?

Alright, I will correct you.

Veer is not a division of Getty. Bite your tongue. Yes, we are connected historically, but that's as far as it goes. Veer was started by a core group of people layed off by or bugged out from Getty after EyeWire was swallowing up and spat out like so many visual content bones. We're not about to let that happen again. Here's some background info.

Charles Anderson sold his library off to Veer.

Actually, Veer has an exclusive agreement with Charles Anderson & Co. to market and distribute certain chunks of the CSA Images royalty-free collection [press release]. That's all. Charles hasn't sold out yet.

On Apr.03.2003 at 04:20 PM
Damien’s comment is:

This is off topic - but since I don't know Grant (from above) and I'm not affiliated with him in any way I feel its okay to draw attention to his excellent page of spiral logos.


On Apr.03.2003 at 05:15 PM
Grant’s comment is:


The above should read:

... his desperately in need of an update page of spiral logos ...

On Apr.03.2003 at 05:52 PM
Nick Finck’s comment is:

It's okay Grant, the resource is still good. In fact, I pointed a friend to the site just the other day before I found this thread. Swooshes, Sprials and little running people, what is this world comeing to!? :)

On Apr.04.2003 at 05:51 PM
anthony’s comment is:

Some of you may have seen this before but I ran accros some "End Branding" shirts the other day, kinda funny.

On Apr.04.2003 at 10:07 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

>Corbis' "Crop," the biggest and most audacious catalogue to cross this desk in some time, is not so much a catalogue as a collection of poster-sized images folded into a looseleaf book. The damn thing is so big (some prints measure 38"26") it has to be laid out on the floor to be properly viewed. Pictures by Michael Prince, Ron Watts, Douglas Kirkland and Gary Houlder are truly worth cutting down the extra trees for paper. Though Corbis had recently seemed like the sleeping giant of the photo industry, "Crop" is the beginning of what promises to be a major marketing push.

It arrived yesterday and by golly it's amazing! Has anyone else seen it yet? I took photographs of some spreads to show those who haven't. It must have cost a fortune. Designed by SEGURA INC

Check it out.

On Apr.15.2003 at 11:17 AM
armin’s comment is:

>Designed by SEGURA INC

Nice photos Kiran, thanks for putting them up. I have to say I am really surprised by the design. Very un-Segura like. They showed good restrain and let the pictures do the talking instead of the the firm's ego. I already ordered me one. A catalog, not an ego.

On Apr.15.2003 at 11:47 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

This is a real step forward for them. That catalog looks fantastic and the pictures look great as well. Their older catalogs were never as interesting with mostly 'standard' stock-type images. It looks like they're figuring out how to use their huge collection properly. They've still got to play catchup to Tony Stone/Getty and Photonica, but they're making headway.

And shoot me for saying this, but, the new logo looks nice here. It really is all context, isn't it?

I'm off to order my copy as well.

On Apr.15.2003 at 12:09 PM
Dwayne’s comment is:

I cant believe that we are talking about our top ten best logos and then lower the conversation to include the word adobe!? Software companies aint known for great design which macromedia helped drop the standard with its 3 bar 'M' thing. Brody's packaging furthered their cringe factor.

The new UPS logo is fine, leave it alone! Have we forgotten the evil element in all design work...the client? Pizza Hut, Burger King and Pepsi all have gone through brand 'progressions' over the past few years (which I argue are alot less sucessful than UPS). Its the graphic way of saying 'Under New Management'. In the mass market brand game neither the company nor the public are gonna dig some crazy logo that has no foundations with the original and why should they?

Image libraries have a design savvy audience (apparently) and thus have a broader language in which to work with. To diss Corbis or Photodisk bores me and to compare them to 'Veer' (which for some reason reminds me of Betty Crocker and Johnson & Johnson's love child) is another apples and oranges discussion. In fact nearly everything commented about the subject of rebranding seems to miss the main idea of appropriation.

On Apr.25.2003 at 09:03 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I'm off to order my copy as well.

So I just received my CROP catalog yesterday from Corbis. I have two conflicting thoughts about it. The first: gorgeous photos, fantastic reproduction and, overall, a great reintroduction to a brand that I've never felt fit my needs. On the other hand, the size of this catalog is massive — approx. 20" x 27". I'm no Greenpeace activist, but it strikes me as an egregious overuse of paper. It can't sit on my bookshelf, because it's so big, so I wonder whether it's destined to be looked at once or twice and then tossed to the landfill.

Anyone else have this reaction?

On May.02.2003 at 09:09 AM
David A. Sherman’s comment is:

I have just been directed to this site by my CIT officer, and have been taken by some of the comments made about Corbis and Getty. I am the President & CEO of Imagestockhouse Inc.(www.imagestockhouse.com), an agency we started 5 years ago in reaction to, and an alternative to the way Corbis, and Getty do business. I invite any of you to register at the site, and take a close look at the search engine we have built. Registration on the site opens up access to all of the features the site has to offer

The "non-exclusive" contract we offer pays out a 60% commission to the photographer (that does not get "split to death" 60% means 60%!). In addition, we do not now, nor will we EVER deal in the royalty free arena, as this area cheapens the creativity of photographer's work.

I would look froward to hearing any comments or criticisms any of you might have on the site, as I truly want to create something GREAT that is beneficial for photographers to efficiently market quality stock content.

On Oct.01.2003 at 04:04 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I would look froward to hearing any comments or criticisms any of you might have on the site.

Hey David, to start off, it's pretty cool that you have principles and stand by them.

But your web site doesn't reflect any of that. The design of the site looks a bit amateurish with clunky buttons and unimaginative layout. To compete with giants like Corbis and Getty you must use design as a tool to rise to their level. As it stands right now I would be hesitant to purchase images from your company simply because I don't feel confident. And all that because of the design.

You seem to have a nice selection of pictures, but you are not doing them justice with such passive branding. You have already invested quite a lot in getting the site up and running, it's just a matter now of giving the right message to people. Especially if you are marketing/targeting creative people.

None of my comments are meant as an offense, just telling it as I see it. Best of luck.

On Oct.01.2003 at 04:36 PM
Aaron Graubart’s comment is:

Hi Folks,

I'd be interested to hear what you all think of our new image collection - Iconica(www.iconica.com). Intended as the sister brand to Photonica with the intention being a more usable, more literal, iconic(?)yet contemporary and interesting collection of images to complement the well known Photonica brand.

Any comments on either the design/ease of use of the site or of the collection itself would be welcomed...

Many Thanks,

Aaron Graubart

Art Director


On Feb.26.2004 at 12:14 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Aaron, just recently I was perusing your collection and new site. Its ease of use is excellent! Figuring out the price for an image is very quick and intuitive. The design is very straightforward, a bit clunky at times with all the thick bars, but I like thick bars so I won't complaint a lot on that. The search function is pretty good and seems to return relevant images.

This is nitpicking, but the navigation at the top loading on each page is silghtly annoying, but it loads while you are seeing the images so no biggie. I had never seen a flash-based search function for a stock agency.

The images, they are all great! Nice, clean, bold´┐Ż high quality stuff. I'm not that familiar with Photonica or Iconica's collection but I don't see a big difference between them to warrant a sister site. But, I claim not knowing enough about the collections to come to that conclusion — just sayin'.

On Feb.26.2004 at 04:24 PM
Aaron Graubart’s comment is:

Hi Armin,

Thanks for having a look. Any constructive criticism is always welcomed. As the new collection grows and matures I think the differences between Iconica and Photonica will become clearer - although there will always be some cross-over in subject and styling. Currently though the main difference is that iconica is a fully e-commerce site, whereas Photonica is not....Yet....

Thanks again - and I hope you'll think of us next time you need an image....??


On Feb.27.2004 at 11:33 AM