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Cooperless Shoesource, or, The Rebranding that Finally Pushed me Over the Edge

I guess it would be hard for Matt Rubel, CEO of Payless Shoesource, a company with over 4,600 retail stores and the nation’s number five shoe seller to build a successful business hinged on a logo that one designer (me) thinks has the potential charms and distinctive peculiarities necessary to communicate at least three out of four of the giant shoesaler’s self-ascribed characteristics, “contemporary, fun, friendly and, above all, stylish.” I guess, but I don’t believe it.

Just recently, in late June, Kansas-based Payless Shoesource, unveiled a new logo and a new direction for their retail stores as a result of new leadership change in the summer of 2005 when Matt Rubel, who previously worked on retail brands like J. Crew, Revlon, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike’s Cole Haan division, joined the company and procured Payless Shoesource in need of a new, more focused direction: to dispel the notion that they only sell “cheap shoes,” to appeal to a more design and budget-conscious customer (in other words, Targetize it) and, ultimately, to somehow deliver on the brand’s promise and strategic direction, “to democratize footwear and accessory fashion and inspire fun fashion possibilities for the family.” And, as we have discussed recently, what better reason for a rebranding than a need to signal change?

Payless Shoesource New Logo

The strongest concern with the Payless brand was that it was simply out of date. To pinpoint how out of date it was, consumer research obviously ensued, and what does the logo do for Payless? Says, Rubel, “[it] pigeonholes us and dates us”. A reporter for the Associated Press summed the logo with clearly no design panache as “a 1980s-era bubble-lettered logo.” Logos, apparently, make for perfect scapegoats.

Anyone that has stepped into a Payless store knows that it is not the logo that dates the brand: It is the invariably poorly-lit, once-beige-maybe-gray-hopefully-not-white-carpeted, disorderly environment that does the trick. And, in an impossible-to-prove-bet, I would bet that the logo has little to do with the pigeonholing. Unscientifically, Payless is not where the label- or design-conscious consumer shops. It is low-end, and they should simply accept that fact and keep exploiting that demographic. Stores like Foot Locker and Champs command top-dollar. Payless simply can’t move out of the $40+ shoe, and to offer what their desired target audience wants, it’s going to take more than $40-Dunkman Shaqs. Climbing to the semi-high-end — which is the inevitable mission — could be perfectly achievable with the upgrade of the stores and a thorough improvement of their logo, which I would argue has enough equity and charisma to build into a renovated image.

But it seems arguing in favor of OJ Simpson is easier than for Cooper Black — the cornerstone of the Payless identity. In the past I have professed my love (yes, it’s love) for Cooper Black so it is especially biting to see Payless’ logo replaced with a thoroughly bland and unmemorable sans-serif (a modified Insignia I think) that sadly tries too hard to be stylistic while effortlessly losing all sense of charm and uniqueness. Yes, I may wax needlessly typographic — the latter loss (charm and uniqueness), honestly, worries me more than the typographic — but it is becoming increasingly difficult to lose the skepticism or find much merits in this decade’s major rebrandings that have justified every design decision with a press release. To my point:

Retaining the use of the color orange, for which Payless is well known, as well as the full name Payless ShoeSource, indicates to consumers that the retailer is not a completely different company, but simply a different Payless — still dedicated to its core values of delivering great quality and value. The logo includes an icon, which features a stylized P in a circle treatment to suggest dynamic movement and change, as well as a new fashion-oriented font highlighting the word Payless.

My heartfelt complaint stops at the typography, the icon (and its wordsmithed press releasing) is simply too generic to warrant serious concern or thought.

There is a drum I like to beat, and today I feel like banging on it pretty hard: I admire and find value in research, consumer feedback and defining a strategy that allows work to move forward based on common principles and goals as shared by a creative agency and the decision-makers on the client’s end. I find it inexcusable (and inexplicable) that poor graphic design solutions are being offered by the design firm — in this case dg* Desgrippes Gobe — under the guise of mission-abiding adjectives stemming from said agreed principles. We can keep excusing this work by admitting that we may not know enough about the strategic decisions and implications of the project; but here’s the secret that brand consultants don’t want you to know: It’s not that hard. Seriously. If you read the news, watch TV, go to movies, interact with people, and keep tabs on the world at large you are more than qualified to make understand the context of a rebranding and, more specifically, to make a judgment on the visual manifestation — the only thing that you and everyone else will likely see — of a company, specially a retail company with 4,600 stores, the “largest in the Western hemisphere.” There are things that I don’t know about this project, documents I didn’t read, conversations I didn’t have, presentations I certainly didn’t make, but I can tell you, as a graphic designer — and I really hate that we are so prone to not stand our ground when it comes to our opinions based on the one thing we do well, train for and make money off of: to create and visualize form out of loose ideas, data and desires — that Payless’ new logo is not good. It’s bad. And worst of all: It’s not amateur-bad, it’s professional-bad. Just like AT&T, UPS, Aflac, NWA and many, many more.

But I guess it’s hard for subjective opinions like this to be taken seriously. If we can’t take arguments on graphic design as anything more than subjective and, at the same time, so easily for all involved (specially those criticized) to dismiss them as such, then let me tell you that we are all in collective trouble. That I believe.

The silver lining, however, as Michael Bierut pointed out to me… there will be a lot of discarded, gigantic Cooper Black letters in back alleys as the company rolls out the new stores.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 2736 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Jul.04.2006 BY Armin
pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Yeah, I guess......Some things are surely "dated" in typography - like Garamond and Bodoni, Caslon and Baskerville, Futura and even Helvetica. Over 30,000 typefaces and someone still picks Comic Sans.

But the discussion is on branding changes and the judgements to change logos and, finally, the sometimes ill-designed solutions taken.

This subject has been a sore spot lately with one tribe of designers and another. Some saying that from the inside our criticism is lacking insight without knowing the briefs. The other tribe says it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck anyway. It's going to continue like this as long as subjective and semi-objective opinions can be expressed.

Maybe it's a new design trend that is emerging. Maybe it's not bad design per se, but a kind of fuzzy thinking in some of the major branding agencies. I don't mean this as an insult. They probably are very analytical in their approach. I mean it as an outsider looking in and wondering why certain trends are here.

How on earth can you explain how that the gradient pillow of a corporate logo gets ground to chopped liver as it goes thru every fax machine/copier around the globe or gets placed on every concievable surface but never survives beyond it's prestine original form? Something has to explain why so many significant logos lately all are heading into this vortex of computer-generated jelly. I say it's the space aliens screwing up our heads....

On Jul.04.2006 at 11:07 AM
denny’s comment is:


On Jul.04.2006 at 12:10 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

For me, the crux of the matter is in the loss of uniqueness, charming or no, of many of these logo revampings.

To be honest, it's a trend I see happening in a much larger design sphere than just logos, but it is particularly noticeable with logos. It's as though they are all being fed through the "simple, sanserif" machine, and then accompanied with a dollop of swoosh-swirl-loop thing. Each time I see another one, I instantly forget it in the morass of their contemporaries. It's as though they all exist in purgatory ... neither here nor there, no statement to make, just existing blandly together.

It is 100% an indication of the "me too" mentality. Corporations, like humans, are afraid to stand out; they're afraid of their own personalities and traits. They think they look fat, have outdated glasses, have a funny laugh and fucked up hair ... so they buy into the latest fashion outfit thinking that if they wear it, they'll look like the model and everyone will love them again.

This desire to be like Nike, Apple, Target or whatever "it brand" of the day, makes me absolutely vomit with contempt at their utter stupidity. When I read the story on Coca Cola's so -called "bold moves," (Quipped by Jason), I just about lost it over the bullshit bandwagon-hopping stupidity of it all. Al Mosely at Wieden+Kennedy is quoted as saying that "Coca-Cola needed to create a coherent global brand presence similar to that enjoyed by iPod maker Apple." Further, he said "the agency had looked at films with universal appeal, such as Shrek, adding that Coke needed to think like Disney."

This kind of crap star-gazing mentality would be bad enough coming from a smaller company, but this is fucking Coca Cola. This is like Al Pacino saying, "I need to be like Tom Cruise." What nobody seems to get is that Apple and Target got to be where they are by being like nobody else out there. Everyone is so fucking insecure that even when they're a fucking behemoth they're still looking around saying "Oh, maybe I should follow them."

Which leads me to the logoblandization of North America. To me a dated logo is a non-issue. It means you come from somewhere. Logos have equity and legacy, and if you can live with a name like "International Business Machines" and still thrive, you can proudly stand up and say "I am Payless Shoes, my logo is big, egg-yolk yellow Cooper Black and I sell shoes for cheap!" and be fucking proud of it. (And the day Coca Cola synthesizes their logo into a simple sanserif is the day I take a great big fucking dump on the steps of their corporate offices.)

Fucking, fucking idiots.

On Jul.04.2006 at 01:00 PM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

In January 2002, Star Jones was named the "Chief of Consumer Style" (national spokesperson) for Payless ShoeSource, the number one shoe retailer in the United States. Star, a popular commercial personality is the "face" of Payless ShoeSource and appears in all of their print and broadcast advertisements. In 2003, Ms. Jones launched her signature line of shoes "Starlet by Star Jones", sold exclusively at Payless ShoeSource.

"Payless ShoeSource is astounding," said Star. "Lots of people don't realize this, but this company puts more footwear fashion on people's feet than any other retailer or designer out there, and it takes remarkable people and a highly efficient organization to do this and do it well. As Payless' chief of consumer style, it was important for me to have firsthand knowledge of the people and operations behind this business, and after yesterday's trip to the company's headquarters, I am truly impressed. Payless ShoeSource is a fashion-forward footwear tour de force."

"Star is more than our ad spokesperson," said John Haugh, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of business development for Payless ShoeSource. "As our chief of consumer style, she is our consumer ambassador -- our voice to consumers about the New Payless, as well as a significant voice from consumers back into the company. People stop her all the time on the street and give her feedback on Payless. She takes her role seriously and always delivers that input back to Payless in a timely fashion. We know Star shops our stores and loves to wear our product, but in her role, it's just as important that she have a solid understanding of our business, our operations, our culture."

Alas, where's Star now that we need her?

On Jul.04.2006 at 01:28 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Marian, darling, I don't think you're getting too worked up over this evil branding thing, though I would advise against public defication as a form of strong protest. Better to just laugh at it. It drives the space aliens nuts when you laugh at them.

Years ago, Spy Magazine ran a prophetic article how the West would become like one gigantic disfunctional Soviet Union. Seems like logos are the "canaries in the coal mine" of this trend....

On Jul.04.2006 at 01:55 PM
Ben Hagon’s comment is:

This is a disturbing trend that leaves me feeling the same way as Pesky Illustrator:
Am I just not getting it?

This recently came to me after seeing the rebranding of the province of Manitoba: http://www.spiritedenergy.ca/

I was thinking, these guys spent how much and how long? To get a joined up version of SodaScript, very similar to a masthead my company produced a couple of years ago? It is frustrating.

In Canada, most of the smaller design studios (proper) are fighting tooth and nail for low level work because the large projects are hoovered up by the big blanding consultancies or multi-national ad agencies and their "branding departments". They cost twice as much and deliver sub par work.

Which leads me back to my question. Being trained as a conceptual graphic designer in the UK, and after working at 3 "boutique" design studios in Toronto, I just don't understand how these large organizations come to such bland, homogenized (almost mechanized maybe?) designs.

The only answer I have received so far is: It was a crappy client. Puh-leaze give us a break.

Can anyone on the inside fill us in?

On Jul.04.2006 at 04:58 PM
Javier Cortés’s comment is:

it is not the logo that dates the brand: It is the invariably poorly-lit, once-beige-maybe-gray-hopefully-not-white-carpeted, disorderly environment that does the trick

There is an opportunity for us as designers to help our clients understand that what they need is often not what they think they need.

IMHO the companies that commissioned professional-bad rebrandings would have been more successful at achieving relevance/freshness/uniqueness/etc by analyzing and revamping their customer experience. This is just as relevant to the local bakery, regional tech manufacturer or national HMO.

Apple, Nike and Target did not gain their strong reputation with a beutiful logo. They did it by designing brand experiences that have excellence at every point, through significant investment in stellar advertising, cutting edge retail environments and high quality products and service. A well executed logo is but one (and I might add small) part of the solution

Payless would have benefitted much more from a redesign of their shopping environment, service, and management (the employees need to be trained to maintain pristine retail displays).

Search for the clients that are open to this discussion, and discard those who insist on a new logo with no regard to the larger picture.

On Jul.04.2006 at 06:49 PM
Mr. One-Hundred’s comment is:

Thanks for that post, Armin.

You make a very valid point, with which I totally agree – that it is not that hard to understand the context of a re-branding and to make a judgement on the visual manifestation. And it shouldn’t be – after all, isn’t that precisely the expectation – that the public at large will be able to understand, identify and embrace a re-branding. Seriously, how many of Payless’ customers – existing or potential – are likely to read the press release before deciding whether to shop there?

I think that what the public at large are less likely to understand, without a long and potentially boring explanation, are the ways in which branding companies are all too often forced into compromises by committee mentallity, ill-informed and narrow thinking and straight-out mistrust from the client.

Marian, I am right there puking and shitting with you – I hate this stuff. As well as being a designer, I am also a musician and have been for some 20 years, so I have seen the music industry go the same way in the last 5 or so years. I can only think that this is just because we are living in ultra-conservative times. Maybe we don’t recognize it as conservatism because it is a different branch to what we have witnessed before.

As for the logo, I am frankly too bored by it to even bother going into why I hate it so much. I think the the biggest hurdle that Payless face in the desire to not appear as a cheap shoe retailer is the name. What else do they think people are going to go there for but to Pay Less?

On Jul.04.2006 at 07:45 PM
beto’s comment is:

Perhaps what is most self-evident about this Payless Shoes rebranding is that, considering their target market, merchandise and marketing strategies, is the deadborn attempt to try making out of that brand something that it is not, that never has been and that never will be. It's a flat-out failure from the get-go. Come on, the "Payless" name is a dead giveaway already.

How do you rhyme "Payless" with "trendy, hip and cool"? It's simple - you don't. That shouldn't be their market strategy. But what do they care anyway - it is as if these days all you need for being cool and successful in business is a trendwhoring, awash in gradients logo that won't scale nor reproduce accurately on a fax machine.

Good thing I don't make logos for a living anymore.

On Jul.04.2006 at 08:21 PM
ChrisM70’s comment is:

So let me ask:

Regardless of how anyone feels about the new logo, was it not obvious that the old logo WAS outdated?

Granted, the new logo is kind of bland, but at least the logo doesn't scream "We're stuck in the 80's".

Maybe I'm looking at this wrong, but even if Payless sells low-price shoes, EVERYONE who shops wants to feel upscale. This new logo at least looks like it was created in the 21st century. Sure, it's boring, but that is the current style - just like bright, fruity interior colors like tangerine and chartreuse are in style. And, of course, in a few years this logo and the colors will look terribly dated too.

However, even people who can't afford upscale clothes and shoes like the idea that they are buying stuff at a place that is somewhat upscale - even if it's not true.
I think that's what Payless is trying to do.

I also think that if Payless admits that it is a low-price shoe store, they are admitting that they are on the same plane as Wal-Mart, in which case the consumer would probably say "if their shoes are just as cheap as Wal-Mart, why don't I just buy shoes there while I am buying snow tires?" Fewer people would probably make a drive to Payless for shoes if in their minds the shoes were low-end.

On Jul.05.2006 at 12:12 AM
Pat Broderick’s comment is:

I don't feel any special attachment to the old logo, but if the aim is to show you're not stuck in the past, why choose a Neville Brody font for your logotype? It's as if they decided being 20 years out of date was an improvement over appearing 30 years out of date.

On Jul.05.2006 at 01:53 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Regardless of how anyone feels about the new logo, was it not obvious that the old logo WAS outdated?

Chris, I don't know if you've seen some of their latest TV ads. When the commercial ends, the last image fades into a white background and the Payless logo, all in one line, all in (a warmer) yellow, fades in. It looks delightfully contemporary. In the past year, they have also moved from putting the logo on a black and heavy box to just putting it on white – another small move that helps lighten the logo and avoid the 80s feel.

Moving forward, simply readdressing the typographic treatment would have yielded major improvement. Even a move to Patrick Giasson's Cooper Black homage, Oz, would have been a smarter move. Even more contemporary could be Underware's Sauna (black, of course!).

There are many, many smart and possible ways of updating the Payless identity. Unfortunately, the approved one is not one of them.

On Jul.05.2006 at 08:27 AM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

I agree with you, Armin, paying more attention to the dingy, discounter feel of the store would go much, much farther in improving the Payless image of just selling cheap shoes. This cold, dry new logo is hardly a testament to "emotional branding."

I’m still wrestling with your general thoughts on whether designers can make valid critiques of a design without knowing the strategic decisions and implications of a project. My initial reaction is “yes...sometimes...to a varying degree...depending on nature of the project.”

Yes, professional experience gives us some degree of license to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s always open-season, for instance, on sloppy kerning. A fine tuned empathy for visual communciation should also give us an upper hand in overall visual analysis.

But at some point, shooting at ducks from our front-porch armchairs lacks professional rigor. At some point, our armchair aim may be off mark because we don’t realize how a particular visual choice is connected to a larger set of objectives well beyond any surface appearances.

Generally speaking, we can easily comment on the logo of a general-population consumer product. After all, we’re the customer base that they’re trying to reach. We have less authority and insight, however, to a design that is focused on Wall Street and increasing shareholder value during a buy-out. Certainly, we can still critique certain formal elements of the design. But we’re at a disadvantage in evaluating its potential effectiveness.

On Jul.05.2006 at 09:48 AM
Nolatina’s comment is:

I agree that the logo is not great. But neither are the shoes they sell! Why walk into a Payless store when you know you will walk out with a dozen blisters for under $40. I am a woman I know.

The reason why Target, Nike and Apple are great is because of the products and the experience they provide. At the end of the day is just a logo what matters is the product.

And Star as a spoke person please. We all now she doesn't wear Payless shoes.

On Jul.05.2006 at 10:38 AM
Nolatina’s comment is:

I agree that the logo is not great. But neither are the shoes they sell! Why walk into a Payless store when you know you will walk out with a dozen blisters for under $40. I am a woman I know.

The reason why Target, Nike and Apple are great is because of the products and the experience they provide. At the end of the day is just a logo what matters is the product.

And Star as a spoke person please. We all now she doesn't wear Payless shoes.

On Jul.05.2006 at 10:38 AM
karen’s comment is:

marian! well said!!!!

On Jul.05.2006 at 11:04 AM
felixxx’s comment is:

I actually don't mind the new logo. Yes, it is meaningless. Yes, Mark Gobe is full of caca. But it is what it is: some big branding firm making some rebranding money. At least he (Gobe) had the foresight to hire Judd Harner away from Ogilvy's B.I.G. Judd might be the best account person in the business. If the shoe fits rebrand it.

On Jul.05.2006 at 11:31 AM
JonSel’s comment is:

I actually don't mind the new logo. Yes, it is meaningless.

That is such a sad comment.

On Jul.05.2006 at 12:14 PM
David E.’s comment is:

And the day Coca Cola synthesizes their logo into a simple sanserif is the day I take a great big fucking dump on the steps of their corporate offices

Actually, when I was a kid I assumed that the word Coke in Helvetica Bold WAS the Coca Cola logo. It kind of was, wasn't it? My point being that design trends are nothing new. It's just that graphic design trends of past eras were based on solid concepts of good design, so there was nothing to complain about.

I don't believe the clients are at fault. It's the fault of designers who aren't taking the responsibility of finding out what good design actually is, and providing it to their clients. Also to blame are design schools, who, instead of training designers to do what 99% of designers actually do for a living, seem to be trying to create the next David Carson, and the design media, who pay way too much attention to niche type designers who want to become celebrities.

Clients have always had the same "me too" mentality. That has always been a constraint that designers have had to face (am I wrong?) But clients can't buy bad design if no one is trying to sell it to them.

By the way, I love Cooper Black too. I also love ITC Garamond, Caslon 224, Avant Garde and American Typewriter. The trend these days is for designers to be as bland as possible, while believing that they're doing "tasteful" typography because they're using small caps and oldstyle numerals. I’m sick of it. Throw your copy of "Elements of Typographic Style" out the window and learn what graphic design can really be.

On Jul.05.2006 at 01:13 PM
Jess’s comment is:

I can't consider myself to be a professional designer. I'm a mostly self-trained in-houser whose primary function is to handle any design projects the company doesn't feel like paying someone else to do. Oh, the agony!

However, I am interested in professional design and I come here for insight and to better understand the principles behind good design. If nothing else, consider this shouting from the peanut gallery.

That being said, I think the photos of the signage in the various articles display the logo in a much better light than the graphic posted here. I can see that catching a few eyes. It's new and that will generate at least a temporary interest. But is that a decent goal?

I doubt this logo will last forever and I'd like to see what the even-older logos looked like. If anyone knows where those can be found, by all means, post them!

I've avoided Payless for years because their shoes always damaged my feet. The savvy shopper is going to hunt out sales at higher-scale stores and avoid the "low-end" market entirely. Payless is going to have to up the quality of the shoes and maintain those magical low numbers to succeed. It seems almost impossible. I'd like to know if they plan on implementing any kind of incentives program or perks for regular customers.

I definitely know the appeal of buying something inexpensive that at least has the semblance of being high-end. Target is mentioned so often when this type of marketing comes up and surprise, surprise: it's my favorite store! I love the clean packaging and humorous quips many of their products come wrapped in. I think Payless simply wants to jump on that particular bandwagon and I don't mind that at all. The execution is simply lacking.

As far as the logo itself goes? Looking at it, I suppose it is rather bland. It's impersonal and that's what everyone is aiming for these days. The little mark there looks more like something you'd see for an electronics store. I think classy-kitsch might have served them better. Payless has always been such a casual store where the shoes were piled on the shelves without any sense or aim at visual appeal. Playing that aspect of it up, cleaning it up, and exploiting it in a fun-yet-clever way would probably have stayed truer to the existing brand. That would have been design as I define it.

I think they're trying to re-invent the wheel here. At the same time, it isn't the worst thing I've ever seen. This logo doesn't speak "shoes" to me, and it lacks the dated-but-warm appeal of the old logo. This is trying to be space-aged and "cool" and I'm not sure that jibes with today's retro-bizarro fashion industry.

I only know one thing: I'm going to have to pay a visit to my local Payless to see what has actually changed. The current stores are truly hideous!

On Jul.05.2006 at 01:42 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Armin, thanks for writing about this. I was completely unaware and am very much on the same page as you, Marian, and others.

This logo is not a marker of current culture; it is not timeless (nor should it be, as far as I am concerned) but it's also not timely. Why bother? And Armin, you're right that the brand experience goes beyond the logo. This is true whether you shop Payless in the barrio or Payless in the strip mall.

As an aside, it was never the orange that made me think of Payless. It's the gold. The big gold background of every box of Payless shoes my family purchased when I was growing up.

I also think - not in this thread - but somewhere this issue of "rebranding" needs to be addressed. At Speak Up we use the word when something gets a new logo whether or not there's actually any kind of rebrand... Just want to raise it as a point for more discussion later.

I'm losing faith in my field. I understand why "graphic design" continues to have one identity crisis after another. But I'm thankful that there are people as impassioned about these things as I.

Oh, and I can't believe they ditched Cooper Black for Such Crap®.

On Jul.05.2006 at 01:49 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Why do companies that partake in these massive rebrandings keep thinking that their brand is somehow their logo?

Payless's brand is = cheap shoes at the mall.

The specifics of the logo are irrelevant. As long as the logo is recognizable, you're good to go.

Does payless NOT WANT to be 'cheap shoes at the mall'? If so, then changing the logo isn't going to change that.

All that said, I thought discount retailers HAD to use cooper black + orange?:


On Jul.05.2006 at 02:05 PM
fatknuckle’s comment is:

Sans-Serif Is A Privilege Not a Right.

On Jul.05.2006 at 02:43 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

I agree with Armin and Marian. Logo design is sliding into a funk, not because there aren't any good logos, but because the flagship logos of the biggest companies with the most brand equity and logo history are ironing their clothing so flat to get out the wrinkles, that they're losing all the details. And they do it so ham-handedly! The recent Mastercard Worldwide cacophany of gradient transparency is a great example of this plague: "oh, well as long as it has the two circles and the colors, we can just do what we want to make it hip".

Blegh. Fortunately, some have avoided this pitfall for the most part. But there are no more logo design masters, only international branding houses and the accounts they land. Logos = fashion. "NEXT!"

On Jul.05.2006 at 04:25 PM
thomas lackner’s comment is:

I have to respectfully disagree with you guys. All graphic design goes through trends. I'm sure in the 1970s, when that horrible previous logo was created, some antique graphic designer was bitching and moaning about how no one appreciates Bodoni anymore.

Though their new logo may lack some personality (the mark is much worse than the type), it isn't abominable, and it won't be long before it's synonymous with cheap shoes in our minds and that Cooper Black monstrosity is where it belongs - forgotten. I'm sure this rebranding is the first step in a long series of moves Payless will take to revamp their stores, introduce a higher quality product (manufactured in an even poorer country), and get sales people that aren't zombies.

Give them two years to try to turn around the Payless shopping experience. There's a reason these execs get paid millions. :)

On Jul.05.2006 at 04:50 PM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

Because of all the clubs, art galleries and trendy restaurants in the area, my neighborhood is a nexus of wildposting. If you want to know what the state of graphic design and branding is, just walk around Chelsea.

The above is a recent addition. Perhaps we can now broaden our discussion to the branding message as expressed in a wider context.

Excuse all the wrinkles, it's been raining hard.

On Jul.05.2006 at 05:15 PM
R Berger’s comment is:

Oh, they so want to be Target…

I'm still trying to figure out how their own personal Deathstar was approved. And already flipping the 'P' Deathstar so it isn't recognizable. Fellas, you don't have brand recognition with your new mark yet, why are you already F'ing with it? Someone needs a Style Guide.

On Jul.05.2006 at 06:32 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

m. kingsley - thanks for the visuals.

Unfortunately, the mark repeated (and flipped) like that looks like "69". I think it's great that they're "playing" with the mark, but I still don't like the total package and especially don't like the logotype.

Perhaps it's that the logotype is set in that particular shade of orange that bugs me most?

On Jul.05.2006 at 08:37 PM
rick Valicenti’s comment is:

marian, you're the best, girl! i started reading through the comments to armin's post wanting only to remind him that those idenities he railed on were are not just bad they're just shit. well, marian, you are the most divine among all of us who are so fed up with this profession along with the soul behind that face we saw in the mirror this morning. your post is damn fool of grace. i bow before you renewing my courage and self respect.

On Jul.05.2006 at 11:20 PM
Pete Lasko’s comment is:

I agree with you on most of your points, and the payless redesign is horrible, but what is wrong with the new UPS logo? I think its great. In my opinion its the one recent refresh that I felt brought its company's brand up to date, while adding strength and unity. The subtle open road in the background is a nice replacement for the more in-your-face, dated, line drawing of a package sitting atop the ups shield.

Anyway, great thoughts, and I am a fan of Cooper Black as well, but I'm not brave enough to try to use it on anything. :) Pet Sounds!

On Jul.06.2006 at 12:13 AM
Violet Weed’s comment is:

Well, the Payless logo could probably be improved, but who cares? Cooper Black was 'old' when I was first involved in graphic design (1963) so why fret over its replacement? Now I am Director within a company that Forture mag ranks as 'one of the best companies to work for in North America' (I'd say 'the world', but what the heck "North America" is good enough, the rest of the world being 'third-world' anyway and I've worked on all continents except Antarctica). Let's face facts. Verdana is the new Helvetica just as once Helvetica was the new Grotesque. Things change over time and yet, somehow, remain the same. Go figgur!
As for the spiritedenergy.com , Manitoba's new site, I like it! The only thing that is annoying is the animation of the logo on the home page, very amateurish, that...but overall it is a nice site.

People, get over yourselves! I have not seen any mention of any NEW designs in the commentary to this blog. When I started in the business, hot metal still reigned supreme and what we most cared about was good legibility/readability, not so much on 'fame or fortune'. My fame and fortune came years later from a software startup in Silicon Valley, not from any ad agency, book or newspaper publisher that I worked for.

The graphic design and typography that I see today sometimes makes me cringe, but the grammar makes me vomit. Oh well, that's the way of the world. The World functions at a mediocre level, not at a genius level.

On Jul.06.2006 at 09:14 AM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

Armin, are you saying, "There's some bad work out there"? Umm, OK.

I don't think that anyone is saying that research or strategy are to blame for or justify bad design. And I really don't believe that most of the design coming out of Brand Consultancies today is bad anyway. Isn't it amazing how good designers can disagree on what is good and bad? Do you think that all the designers at big consultancies are bad designers? What qualifies you to evaluate? What makes you right? There's a stage in every designer's life when they think that they are the ONLY one who really gets it. I know some designers that think that every second of every day. You look at something that someone else labels as great design and laugh in your head. Don't you find that odd?

Part of the problem is that every design you get out there can't be good. Is that a fair statement? Maybe it can be good, but it certainly can't be your best every time. Right? Take a look at your own portfolio. Is there nothing in there that you would qualify with a, "It would have been better if…" or a "they just wouldn't listen when I said…" or "I've learned a lot since then." Now, picture in your mind the designs that didn't even make it in to your portfolio. Thought so. What happened to those designs? Where did they go wrong?

So why is it hard to do great design ALWAYS?

Sometimes you can't sell a great idea to a client. Sometimes you can't even sell a great idea in your own studio. Sometimes you can't come up with a great idea and mask it with amazing craft and aesthetic (is that great design?) Sometimes clients demand that designs are researched and your favorite doesn't win. Sometimes you do a poor job interpreting research. Sometimes the blue car logo and the red apple logo tie in quantitative and you end up with a blue apple. Sometimes the clients' daughter likes green. Sometimes a client draws something for you. Sometimes the President of your own company draws something for you.

Sometimes everything falls right into place.

Big brand consultancies don't have the option of not putting work in their portfolios. Partly because most of their projects are on a national or international stage and partly because folks like me broadcast every project that they had even a tangential authorship of. Fair? Hardly. But neither is saying that they aren't living up to their responsibility. They have the same hurdles you do.

Are all of these excuses? They are realities. WHAT WE DO IS NOT EASY. Is there bad work out there? Of course. Does some of it come out of big brand consultancies? Of course. But no more than come out of small studios. Responsibility has nothing to do with it. Some work goes on the front page of your book and some work doesn't make it in.

On Jul.06.2006 at 10:30 AM
Thomas Jockin’s comment is:

Also to blame are design schools, who, instead of training designers to do what 99% of designers actually do for a living, seem to be trying to create the next David Carson

As a student at Parsons, I would have to say it's not a "wanna-be Carson" mentiality— I would actually love it. That means we actuallty care about what we are doing and what to experiement and push what graphic design means, to some degree.

No, Today at design school, it's subjectivity run amock. No one calls a duck a duck and a spade a spade. This is espically true for typography.

you do mean blowing up Garmond to 300pt and putting a gradient on it isn't the best move? It looks cool and I like it.

is a sum up of the typical graphic designer at Parsons.

The simple fact of the manner is that not enough time is spent on this critical area of study. Everyone just wants to jump to the photoshop + flash classes, and forget that it's the use of images and type that make us grpahic designers, not photoshop and flash.

Breaking rules is great and what makes this profession so much fun for me, but for god's sake, know what you're doing/ why you're doing it and take responsiblty for making ugly shit when you do— take pride in what we do and hold yourself to higher standards, because no one else will.

On Jul.06.2006 at 10:41 AM
KP’s comment is:

Thanks M. Kingsley for the photos of the Payless patterns. To your point about a wider context for the brandign message: even if the logo is an hackneyed stinker, the repeat system around it does say “contemporary, fun, friendly and, above all, stylish”. It's more than I can say for whatever Payless was doing visually before now, and besides–it's design. Isn't that what we would all like to see a little more of? Don't tell me that patterning is thoughtless/useless, because I'll direct you to the emigré pajamas.

The question this "rebranding" raises is, "what else is the company doing to promote the direction of it's identity?" Some have pointed out that cheap shoes=cheap shoes, no matter what the sign over the door says, so why not keep the old identity? Because the world of business isn't a museum, that's why. Payless is attempting to be relevant now, and they'll probably do it again in ten years, and ten years after that. Their business is built on slim margins, and they will do anything to maintain their profit. Let's take a small moment to rejoice that some effort was made to craft the visual language around the logo.

That is to say: I love Cooper Black, too. When I said "Cooper Black is the devil" in the only Word It I've done, I was quoting someone else who'd posted here, and it was tongue in cheek. I wouldn't mind a Payless "P" in my apartment.

On Jul.06.2006 at 11:01 AM
Ryan Peterson’s comment is:

I found it entertaining after reading all of the posts, that on the intro to the payless website they actually have the old logo sort of blowing up and breaking off into pieces of the new!

Total DeathStar move. LOGO TERMINATED.

Your move Cooper Black.

On Jul.06.2006 at 12:03 PM
schwa’s comment is:

marian, maybe a steamy demonstration of 69 in front of payless's headquarters is in order? that's such a sick use of their logo.

On Jul.06.2006 at 12:07 PM
Greg Scraper’s comment is:

The new logo makes me want to buy a cell phone from them. When you're in fashion design, here's the formula: do something that's ridiculously trendy and hang onto it as freaking hard as you can. In twenty years you'll look like a genius. Payless was just getting back around to that; in fact, I just saw on a clothes rack somewhere the Payless logo on a t-shirt. Pretty ironic.

I think that a lot of the recent rebranding discussion revolving around "why did they do that?" had more to do with where people are working currently. Ad agencies and branding firms are starting to struggle due to the internal politics of the individual agencies, not so much due to the crappy design. The design I think is a byproduct. Even the best designer can only take so much shit every day from the 24 year old vice-president of account services management ball-polishing before you just say, fine, fuck it, here's the logo the way you want it. The problem with design in these places is that no one trusts us to do the job right our way. Every account manager wants to stick their thumb in it somehow, so they can say to their tool friends at the tool bar or at their next job interview, "I was the one who got the gradient placed on that," or "I suggested the outlined type on that."

I heard once that the reason insects could never grow to the huge sizes that they do in 50's B-movies is because they'd collapse under their own weight. Somewhere out there right now is the sound of design carapaces collapsing.

On Jul.06.2006 at 12:25 PM
felixxx’s comment is:

Confucus say he who lika the yin yang lika to sixty nine. Ha Ha. — Bazooka Joe©

I'm not going to pull a Weinberger (begin sobbing mercilessly due to my job as a Bigbrander©) but I will say Armin, Jonsel, Marian, Rick, and the rest of you Crybrandbabies© need to get together and do some full-on fingerpainting. And soon.

Now, take another look at that Kingsley wildposting©. Objectively this time. Are your eyes are so full of Brandtiers© you simply refuse to see?

"Over the edge"? You people kill me.

On Jul.06.2006 at 01:46 PM
Stefan’s comment is:

For me, the crux of the matter is in the loss of uniqueness, charming or no, of many of these logo revampings.

Perhaps the reason we've seen so many gut-wrenchingly horrible rebrandings lately is because that being so bad does separate them from the rest of the bland, cookie-cutter logos out there. I know that I can't get AT&T or the new MasterCard logo out of my head at the end of the day. But then again, perhaps I'm just obsesive.

On Jul.06.2006 at 01:58 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Let’s see. We have two main topics—The Payless logotype in particular and the quality of graphic design from major branding companies in particular—plus the subtopic of Cooper Black. As a certified academic, I’ll deal with the least important stuff first. (It has nothing to do with leaving the best for last. It’s just the way we write.)

Tangential to the subject:
Also to blame are design schools, who, instead of training designers to do what 99% of designers actually do for a living, seem to be trying to create the next David Carson
Throw your copy of "Elements of Typographic Style" out the window and learn what graphic design can really be.

Am I the only one who thinks the former is over-generalized to the point of being useless and silly and who has no idea what the latter is actually advocating?

The typeface:
Cooper Black is a running joke here at East Carolina University. I like it (in the abstract and in the very few instances where it is used well) and my colleague Craig Malmrose lists it as his #1 most hated face. I quote Matthew Carter who described Cooper Black as “dipped in chocolate.” Craig suggests another substance.

But I don’t count the old Payless logotype among the few good uses. Craig’s and my feelings toward the typeface (and/or Ms. Jones’ departure from “The View”) aside, the obvious questions about a Payless reworking are:

1) How much equity did they have in the old logotype and in Cooper Black? Would a radical change cause confusion more than sparking interest? My guess is not much/no.

2) Is this particular replacement an improvement? Although my non-designer wife deemed it “less ugly than the old one,” it struck me as merely really weak. Mark changed my mind with his post of their posting. I hadn’t seen the new logo in action. (Mark will have to come visit me in North Carolina to confirm but I’m thinking that Chelsea and the meatpacking district are bigger centers for attempts to propagate hipness and latest trends than Greenville is.)

A trademark is not a little piece of Art to be admired in a little frame on the wall; it’s a tool to be used. I had underestimated the willingness of Payless to let someone try to do something with the new trademark. My challenge to designers is to not ask “Which is a ‘good’ logo?” but to ask which you’d rather be stuck with if your job were to use it to do a lot of semi-interesting design work that would add up to a festive and welcoming feeling.

Then ignore typeface choices for a moment and ask yourself about each in terms of design. The big phrase that is the store name—is it dealt with in a manner that makes recognition quick? (Despite what David E. thinks about design schools, my students learn about setting up hierarchies and controlling reading.) Is the overall shape pleasing and useful (for something other than a sign placed along a long store façade)?

That said, I still think the new logotype is weak. It is clumsy in a non-endearing way and formally semi-nasty.

3) Why change the logo rather than a hundred more important things?

The name, unfortunately, does have a lot of equity. It would be business suicide to change that. They also aren’t planning to sell shoes to the real life version of the characters in “Sex and the City”; they just want to raise expectations of the possible range to be found in their stores.

Even though killing the name isn’t an option, that hardly calls for saying “We’re dowdy and cheesy and always will be. Come here if your life sucks as much as our shoes do.” That, too, would be business suicide. Chrism had it right about people wanting to shop someplace decent even if they can’t (or won’t) spend a lot of money.

I hope they are changing store hygiene and customer service. There are a couple of reasons to change a logo in an attempt to change the brand. One is to announce that changes have been made. The tactic would be to wait until the place was together and announce it to the world with a change in the graphic identity. The other is as a signal of intent to employees, management, suppliers, etc. It seems they chose the latter. [insert redirecting a large ship cliché here]

By the way, one reason that people think a change in graphic design will cause a change in business is because graphic designers tell them that. How many people in this conversation have said to a client “Graphic design isn’t important. Just provide good service and a good product and save the money you’d spend with me”?

David says:
And I really don't believe that most of the design coming out of Brand Consultancies today is bad anyway
"they just wouldn't listen when I said…" or "I've learned a lot since then."
Sometimes you can't sell a great idea to a client. Sometimes you can't even sell a great idea in your own studio. Sometimes you can't come up with a great idea and mask it with amazing craft and aesthetic (is that great design?) Sometimes clients demand that designs are researched and your favorite doesn't win. Sometimes you do a poor job interpreting research.
Is there bad work out there? Of course. Does some of it come out of big brand consultancies? Of course.

I do see a large correlation between firms calling themselves branding-something-or-other and producing formally bad trademarks. What’s up with that? Do formally talented designers not like working for people who emphasize strategy and client goals? Do MBAs drive away anyone who knows anything they don’t? Do branding people join some sort of weird aesthetic fraternity like Hare Krishnas, East LA gangbangers, evangelical preachers?

The “I’ve learned since” or “You can’t always win” bull doesn’t cut it. A major branding agency can afford to hire designers who have already made their rookie mistakes. They charge enough that they ought to be good at selling the good idea, at coming up with a truly good alternative when they can’t, and at letting research inspire good design. That’s why they are supposedly worth more than the thousands of other choices a company could make.

Most importantly, they are the people who should be making research and strategy add up to good design. If not, they aren’t doing the job and they are as sad as this:

Even the best designer can only take so much shit every day from the 24 year old vice-president of account services management ball-polishing before you just say, fine, fuck it, here's the logo the way you want it

On Jul.06.2006 at 04:38 PM
anonymous’s comment is:

It looks like a tadpole.

On Jul.06.2006 at 04:57 PM
Greg Scraper’s comment is:

Most importantly, they are the people who should be making research and strategy add up to good design. If not, they aren’t doing the job and they are as sad as this:

Gunnar, my quote was taken out of context. Sad? Man, I'm a freelancer. I've had my full share of crappy jobs, and I'm here to tell you that the optimistic portrait you paint just doesn't exist outside the happy little bubble that ensconces itself over the design community at a college. Fight and fight, fight and fight, and then get told by the person who lords your job over you that you will do it their way or someone else will, because there are 300 applicants waiting in a file folder somewhere eager to get their shot at being a photoshop jockey. All I was saying with my previous rant is that, yes, it is hard, and it's easy to judge when you're not in the situation again and again. Personally, I'm not, but I've seen it happen to the designers around me repeatedly and it sucks. Eventually they've had enough and they leave for a small design agency where they are the go-between to the client.

The situation is even exascerbated by the sheer number of students that colleges churn out every year, who don't know anything more than how to use design programs. In fact, I might go so far as to blame the entire situation on colleges who aren't teaching their students how to design, they're just teaching them how to click on the mouse and make pretty things. "People like that don't get hired," you say, but they do. In fact, at most ad/branding agencies I think they prefer people who won't rock the boat. I don't think you're that kind of teacher judging from the comments I've read of yours, which are mainly wise and insightful when you're not skimming posts for straw men. I agree with your previous assertion that a redesign was a good idea, when viewed from the standpoint of a new agency being handed the logo and told to do an interesting ad for it. What they came up with was completely, and I mean completely interchangeable with any new cell phone/strip mall/website logo, however, and therefore was inappropriate. Armin is right in saying that it's crap, and making a change for the sake of the change, not because it's better but because it's different, is the worst reason I can think of to rebrand.

On Jul.06.2006 at 05:25 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:


I agree that the new mark is crap. I do think it’s an improvement but not much of one.

Sorry if you (probably fairly reasonably but read down three paragraphs) took my quoting you as an attack on you. It was an attack on an attitude and on graphic designers dealing with their work on the wrong level.

As to my happy little bubble, I’ll be fifty-four in a couple of weeks. For eight of the last dozen years I mainly supported myself by teaching. Some quick subtraction will tell you that means there’s a good chance that I’ve worked for more clients than you’ve been turned down by.

I have never worked for a large design firm where I was directed by an account executive so you can dismiss anything I have to say. I have, however, spent decades talking to clients so I know something about client services as well as about doing design.

If the AE is getting in the way of doing good, effective design, that’s what’s sad. There was a recent Speak Up thread about designers vs. account people where people complained about the stupid suits. It convinced me that most of the designers writing had no idea what anyone did for a living (including themselves.)

I have never said that designers (as opposed to Photoshop jockeys) don’t get hired. If I thought that my job was to be a software trainer or an overpriced version of a software tricks book, then I’d quit and do something more interesting for a living.

One of the most important things I teach my students is how to talk to people about graphic design. That means talking to them functionally so it doesn’t come down to who controls the paycheck but tends instead to be about what is good for the end result. It does not surprise me that some freelancers are not in the position to even start that conversation (although I suspect that the more common problem is that they don’t know how to start) but large branding agencies (the subject of this thread) most certainly should be in that position.

On Jul.06.2006 at 07:24 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Gunnar, you quoted me as saying, “Also to blame are design schools, who, instead of training designers to do what 99% of designers actually do for a living, seem to be trying to create the next David Carson”
“Throw your copy of "Elements of Typographic Style" out the window and learn what graphic design can really be.”

… and commented, “Am I the only one who thinks the former is over-generalized to the point of being useless and silly and who has no idea what the latter is actually advocating?

“Despite what David E. thinks about design schools, my students learn about setting up hierarchies and controlling reading.”

I apologize if it sounded like I was putting down design teachers (I wasn’t). There are many excellent design teachers, and I’m sure that any good school will make sure students have a good grounding in the principles of design. But understanding the principles and being able to apply them to everyday design problems are two different things. I’ve seen lots of awesome student work by people who can’t even do even a halfway decent job at designing something as simple as a postcard direct mail piece. Schools have to take the blame for this. Look at an Art Center catalog. There are too many classes that don’t focus on what most of the students will most likely be doing for most of their careers, and I think it does the students a disservice.

As for my other comment, I was trying to say that, for one thing, I see a lot of bland work by designers who believe the work is good, just because they’ve used the most “authentic” version of Bodoni, etc. To me it shows that these people want to do good work, but lack direction.

…and for another thing, I was saying that I like funky old typefaces with large x-heights.:)

On Jul.06.2006 at 07:41 PM
PJ at Knowing Art’s comment is:

Take a look at their best dress shoes for $30 and compare them to a nice $180 pair of Kenneth Cole's and you'll see what I mean. Yes, most of what they sell is for hiphop street kids, but it's always worth a look before you pay more. The shoes are made in China anyway--they work for 10 cents an hour. Something is wrong if Chinese shoes cost more than $30. And as technology advances I think we'll see even nicer shoes for less $. In another 10 years you can just design your own shoes in CAD and press "print".

On Jul.06.2006 at 07:53 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Gunnar, are you ignoring me on purpose?

We have two main topics—The Payless logotype in particular and the quality of graphic design from major branding companies in particular—plus the subtopic of Cooper Black.

Actually I do think one of the main topics is whether logos are losing personality in general, and becoming increasingly generic.

I like Cooper Black well enough, but I would never suggest that a company keep their logo because it's in a typeface I like. But in this instance I feel that Payless has enough equity in their old logo that it's worth keeping. Armin didn't even post a pic of the old logo, and I could picture it in my mind ... I've never even shopped in a Payless Shoe store, but we have a few of them around, and I recognize it. That's worth something. I think it's worth a lot.

As I mentioned before, it had personality. It's been around a while; some people think that's "dated" but I think it's historical. I like that you can look at an identity and get an idea of when they were established, and age is also worth something. Plus, the design was appropriate to what they sell and how they sell it.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't "great," it wasn't fucking Paul Rand, but it was familiar, recognizable and memorable. (And as someone else mentioned, Cooper Black is cool again.)

Armin is right in that if there's a problem, it's not with the identity, it's with the in-store experience. Changing the way they sell would be a good start but ...

now I don't usually go around offering free advice, but what I would have done is build on the yellow and the shapes. Bigger, more. I'd have painted the walls inside the store the egg-yolk yellow and then put large abstract shapes based on those luscious curves in white on the walls. From a distance those stores would glow yellow, closer up they would have a hip curiousity. But they'd be playing off of an existing well-known brand. And it would make a statement of pride in that brand instead of running away and hiding behind some anonymous new mark.

Yeah sure, the 69 patterning is pleasant, young and colourful. But it's like starting over, it's imitating Target, it's confusing as to the intent for the direction of the store and I can think of several stores here in vancouver (all fashion stores aimed at female tweens) that use very similar motifs. (And why 69s? Is that supposed to be like "sex" in the icecubes?)

So what I'm saying is "stop running away from your own identity; especially when it's already well established." To me, changing a logo is like major reconstructive facial surgery, and should be saved for emergencies. Get a face lift, get a boob job, change your clothes, lose weight, cut your hair, but leave the eyes, nose and mouth alone.

On Jul.07.2006 at 02:35 AM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

Small point of terminology for Felix...

"Wildposting" is a phrase used in branding firms to describe quasi-illegal posters which go up on construction fences. I use the term "quasi-illegal" because in New York City there's a Department of Sanitation code against such posters. In fact, if you post a Lost Dog flyer on a telephone pole with your phone number on it, you're exposing yourself to a fine.

That's why such posters rarely have any copyright notices, website or any other kind of specific contact information on them.

When I worked with large record companies (before they all imploded, merged and purged), the term was "sniping" (we designed snipes, not posters) and it was understood that nefarious m*fia-type figures did the work. Each company had their own territory which was protected with extreme prejudice, if needed. It was also rumored that if you wanted to score the chronic, they were the source for that too.

But that was then. Of course, Payless Shoesource would NEVER be involved with such characters now.

> I had underestimated the willingness of Payless to let someone try to do something with the new trademark.

Small point of clarification for Gunnar...

My understanding of branding projects is that they are created as a whole rather than in discreet steps. In other words, the logo wouldn't be presented by itself but as a part of a larger "visual identity system."

So instead of Payless allowing Desgrippes Gobe to play with the logo, they approved the logo and the implementation as an overall plan.

Joanna: You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there Bryan, why don't you make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?
Stan, Chotchkie's Manager: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
Joanna: You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don't need 37 pieces of flair to do it.
— from Office Space, 1999, written and directed by Mike Judge

To my eyes, the wildposting and the dancing bubbles of the Payless website, remind me of the movie Office Space and its concept of "flair" — maybe even the concept of flair bartending — aka lots of fun stuff sprinkled about to create a festive atmosphere.

While it's not my taste, I can see how the folks at Payless would be happy with their new direction. They now have a broader visual language which makes their store environments more engaging, their shopping bags more attractive and all the other things you need to help stick in the consumer's mind. I can easily imagine promotional socks, pictures of shoes rendered in a pattern of ben-day icons, fun patterns printed on the back of store receipts, etc.

Marian makes a fine case for creating a visual identity system out of the Cooper Black, but then Cooper Black is also the traditional font for one-of-a-kind T-shirts that we used to have made at the mall. And that's not fashionable — unless you're a Brooklyn hipster — in which case, you're more concerned about maintaining a fashionable irony.

One also should keep in mind that Payless' milieu is fashion, and fashion means little more than a degree of adherence to the status quo. They don't sell Style, they sell styles; a whole range of them.

No, it's better to dump the Cooper and come up with a device that you can turn into graphic flair. One can only do so much with a Cooper letterform because any creation needs to avoid the added weight of meaning that a letter carries. And that pretty much leaves you with a rounded shape — which is where they ended up.

So relax, my doubting friends, as Payless leaves their overly distinctive wordmark behind. And behold as their core concept (pay less) sheds its literal cocoon and transforms into abstract flairmarks (my coinage, thank you) to be sprinkled over our heads like magic pixie dust... as we drift off to sleep with dreams of a more beautiful foot, a fashionable foot, a sexy foot... bedazzled, with flair.

On Jul.07.2006 at 04:49 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> What qualifies you to evaluate? What makes you right?

David, rhetorical question I hope. Otherwise, I do have a very good reason. [Rocko's comment, first line]

> But no more than come out of small studios. Responsibility has nothing to do with it.

We can disagree but… Responsibility has A LOT to do with it. The work that gets done on a more public stage (Target, Apple, Payless, Aflac, etc.) trickles down to small businesses who want to emulate what the big players are doing visually. So, if there is bad work at the top, people down the ladder are going to ask for bad work because that's what they see as succesful. So, yes, I do think they have plenty of responsibility.


Switching gears to Cooper Black. As much as I advocate for Cooper Black, I think I didn't clarify enough that the real loss is the loss of peculiarity and inherent sense of fun and play in the old logo. And I happen to believe that wonderful things could have been done with Cooper Black, so maybe that's why I placed so much emphasis on that.

As Marian noticed, I didn't include an image of the old logo, because I knew everyone could picture it. And that kind of recognition is a terrible thing to waste.


The logo as pattern is indeed sprinkley, you can't argue with that. But as Marian noted, it feels done. And reminds me a lot of the Bahamas campaign, which was plastered all over New York, so I wouldn't doubt dg*'s work was "influenced" influenced by it.

On Jul.07.2006 at 08:44 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Man With the Golden Arm.

Arm, you're very Sadistic and Mean.

Just let me WALK AWAY.

How could I NOT Respond.

Great Editorial Analysis and Commentary.

The Original Payless Shoes Identity was Designed by
Anspach Grossman Portugal.

It served Pay less well for over for nearly thirty years.
Not to mention one of my Favs.

The new Payless Identity WILL NOT have that Longevity.

Do I Really need to Comment on the Swooshed "P"???

I'll see if I can get Maestro Tony Spaeth to comment on the new Payless Identity. Since he was Senior Identity Analyst and Strategist at Anspach Grossman Portugal (AGP).

Perhaps one of his Identities.

I'll Ping Bob Too Sharp Wolf aka Bob The Executioner Wolf to Respond. He is one of the Longest Reigning Senior Partners at Anspach Grossman Portugal now Enterprise IG. Responsible for Bank of America; UNISYS; UPS Livery Branding; Gillette; KOMAT'SU; Lockheed Martin; NAVISTAR; International; Detroit Edison; Quest; The Port Authority Of NY & NJ (others).

Responsible for Hush Puppies at Landor many others.

Off Topic:

JonSel, If its any SOLICE, I too will miss your IRC Identity one of your Best.
The Revitalized Identity DOES NOT Compare.

Which is why I thought I DID NOT need to Comment.

Back to my Van Morrison CD.


On Jul.07.2006 at 08:45 AM
felixxx’s comment is:

Mark, understood. Just wan't aware wild posting was Oneword©.

One interesting thing about that Bahamas reference people seem to forget: A year before Alan Dye created an elegant pattern for Kate Spade while at Ogilvy (he has since joined ranks @ Kate Spade in form of creative director). While the Bahamas work is very nice, it does'nt hold a candle to Alan's, which was more of a purist 50's modernity allusion. Inoneword: Purisallusernity©.

On Jul.07.2006 at 09:39 AM
Mr. Frankie L’s comment is:

The street poster as shown by M.Kingsley
reveals how versatile the mark can be
used, especially in the style/fashion market..
definitely looks like they wanted the icon-like
feel of a Target – at all costs even at the
detriment of the P.

In theory there isn't any reason why the logo
execution can't be as seemless as its brand

On Jul.07.2006 at 10:10 AM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

No, it's better to dump the Cooper and come up with a device that you can turn into graphic flair. One can only do so much with a Cooper letterform because any creation needs to avoid the added weight of meaning that a letter carries. And that pretty much leaves you with a rounded shape — which is where they ended up.

I didn't say use the letterform I said "abstract shapes". There is pleanty of mileage in those curves without invoking the actual letterform. It's not even remotely limited. I still say you could get something that was more interesting, eye-catching, original (way more flair!) and invested in the old identity. And the money you saved on replacing however much signage, etc., you could put into advertising.

And speaking of dots, the Cooper logo already employed some dots. They're orange, and they were just sadly sitting there, waiting for someone to notice them, poor things.

On Jul.07.2006 at 12:48 PM
Doug F’s comment is:

Come one, does anybody really think the old Payless logo was "fun"? I think the onlypeople who found any charm in it are graphic designers. I can't imagine anyone in their target audience equating it with anything but "cheap".

On Jul.07.2006 at 01:11 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"I can't imagine anyone in their target audience equating it with anything but "cheap"."

Which, it seems to me, then made it the perfect logo for their business.

On Jul.07.2006 at 01:30 PM
Jess’s comment is:

Well, from a purely experiential point of view, I could say I associated the Payless logo with fun. My mother and I used to have "shoe sprees" where we'd buy up a few pairs of on-the-cheap shoes. For a single mom and her daughter, that was special.

Those fond memories are linked irrevocably with the store Payless. Seeing the storefront used to evoke those memories in me. I couldn't help but think of that.

I remember a few months back, the Payless I mentioned burned down almost entirely. I was heartbroken without seeing that familiar lettering staring from the street.

Still, I'm not opposed to change. If it heralds newer and cleaner stores and better products, I'm all for it. I'll take the little DeathStar mark. I would've like something more off-beat, but I won't complain. I'll have the old Payless logo in my mind, mostly because OF the fun memories I have associated with it.

So yes, fun.

On Jul.07.2006 at 01:37 PM
David E.’s comment is:

One thing no one's mentioned is the fact that the store is now called Payless Shoesource. The original logo probably worked better when it was simply Payless Shoes. So the Shoesource version was kind of a bastardization. I think that giving visual priority to the word Payless is a good idea.

On Jul.07.2006 at 02:17 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

The only Reason Payless is Associated as being CHEAP SHOES is because that was their Business Model.

You Could take the same BEAUTIFUL Cooper Black
Letterforms and Create a Logotype for

Jimmy Choo


Manolo Blahnik

High End Exclusive Women Shoes that sell on Average between $ 600.00 to $ 900.00 dollars or more.

Its not the Beautiful Cooper Black Payless Logotype one associate with being Cheap Per Se.

It's the Name and Branding Together embedded in our Mind.

Branding addresses Trust Relationships in Customer Product Experience with a Brand Reinforced when Positive Experience Consistently Meet or Exceed Expectations.

I can take a FAKE pair of Crocodile Shoes by PRADA Retail $ $450.00 dollars remove the name and place them next to a pair of FAKE Crocodile Shoes by Payless Retail $ 80.00 dollars (remove the name) and NOBODY could tell the difference.

D. Mark Kingsley Thanks for mentioning Star Jones. I'm sure she has some Payless in her Wardrobe to Keep it Real.

Like our Beloved Debbie Millman I'm sure her Wardrobe and Walk In Closets are Adorned with MOSTLY Jimmy Choo Shoes and Monolo Blahniks.

A Girl's Best Friend.

Back to my Jim Morrison, The Doors CD.


On Jul.07.2006 at 02:28 PM
Feldhouse’s comment is:

It was always called Payless Shoe Source, not Payless Shoes.


I wanted to draw a parallel between Payless and Walmart.

Payless changed its logo, not image. Walmart changed its image, not logo. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think changing your image is more important than changing the logo. Like Marian said, changing a logo is a drastic solution.

Walmart knew it appealed to the mass audience of lower-income people. Hell, I shop there every now and then. I hated the dingy looking aisles and "bulk" feeling the entire store had. Not very appealing to me. But they knew if they wanted to start attracting a larger clientele they needed to change their image, not logo. They didn't just say, "Fuck it, let's change the logo because we need a change." The higher-ups knew that it started with the experience of the store. First thing to change: the blue bags. They went with white, a much more appealing color and not as tacky looking. Next step: All new buildings will have hardwood floors in the clothing aisle. Next step: Have "designer" merchandise. (BTW, they are emulating Target only in the business sense. Any smart business will incorporate “designer” merchandise in their stores when that’s what is profitable)

What did Payless do? Change the logo. The stores aren't updated (although this could change) and now comes the launch of their new logo. They think bastardizing the already shitty mark will create a "brand" when in fact it looks like the creatives/executives had a lack of vision.

I have always been told: it's not the designer, it's the executives. I believe this to a certain degree but at some point, you have to fight for what is the best design, especially in identity. No one person will ever be right or wrong all the time, but to change an identity is certainly a desperation move for any company. IBM had some rough years, but they didn't update their logo, right? I think what it boils down to is Lack of Vision.

On Jul.07.2006 at 02:29 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> The stores aren't updated

Just to clarify: The stores are changing. Pictures of it in the press release and news story linked in the main article.



Please excuse my unusual lazy linkage...

On Jul.07.2006 at 02:37 PM
Stacy Rausch’s comment is:

All I know is that the old logo was easy to spot at like 200 yards at any shopping mall...
especially when in a hurry looking for a cheap pair of sandals.

I feel kinda bad for the rap Payless gets... I actually have found quite a few pairs of shoes there that were comfortable and have lasted throuh numerous years of wear and tear. It is a great place for people like me who like alot of pairs of shoes, but can't afford the $150 Kenneth Coles.

On Jul.07.2006 at 02:37 PM
tonepoems’s comment is:

Don't they have a big teen market? If that's the case, I think a 15-year old is less likely to be embarrassed to go in a store with a pop logo like that.

And by the way, to the comment made by Jess - I'm also an in-house designer and I consider myself a professional!

On Jul.07.2006 at 04:37 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

The inescapable Ms. Bantjes asks:
Gunnar, are you ignoring me on purpose?
but I assume that is a rhetorical question. She knows that I would never do such a thing on purpose and that it’s an unlikely thing to do otherwise.

I choose instead to focus on things off-topic (and Marian is always on topic.) David E. wrote:
Look at an Art Center catalog. There are too many classes that don’t focus on what most of the students will most likely be doing for most of their careers
I don’t have an ArtCenter catalog but I glanced at their website. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Care to specify?

(Apologies for off-topicness but I’m assuming we’ve said most of what we have to say about the actual topic and I’m always curious what people think graphic design education should be.)

On Jul.08.2006 at 12:25 PM
Tony Spaeth’s comment is:

Thanks for the ping, DM. As it happens, Payless was not on my watch at AGP. And because it's a category brand, not a corporate brand, it falls largely outside my sphere of interest, so I'll respectfully reserve comment, which you designers are doing so well anyway.

Well... maybe one comment... on design strategy, not execution. When your name really is your identity, as is commonly the retail situation as in the case of Payless and (say) Sears, what exactly is the strategic function of a symbol, which eats fascia space and diverts attention from the name? Yeah, yeah, Target... but that really proves the rule, because the target symbol literally says the name. The Payless symbol is what, a P? So do they want us to see (and say) "P?" Doubt it. Certainly a "flairmark" (love it, Kingsley) can add merchandising values but the cost, in this case, does seem to be diminished visibility of "Payless." If that was the purpose, this solution seems like pushing uphill with a rope. I won't argue for the old design or against change, but this particular change looks like it diminishes brand presence.

On Jul.08.2006 at 02:04 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Tony—You’re right about the symbol as used. It’s still a more efficient unit than the full name in a single size as before but having the “flairmark” fully integrated into (or taken from) the logotype would be even more so. I think what we probably have here is a case of Target envy. It’s easier to say “Let’s do what Target did” than to say “Let’s accomplish what Target accomplished.”

On Jul.08.2006 at 06:04 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Hmmm...are you guys sure the name was never Payless Shoes? I could almost swear that it was at one time.

What I was referring to in the Art Center catalog was the examples of student work, not the class descriptions. I live in Los Angeles, and I’ve seen portfolios of graduates, as well as their student gallery many times. While it’s often inspiring to look at the work there, its obvious that it's mainly blue-sky type projects, with the majority of the work being done in an “edgy” style.

A little of that is fine, but I’d rather see a student portfolio that demonstrates an ability to design basic things – the things that make up the bulk of graphic design, with constraints that clients are likely to impose.

It was the same when I was in college. I graduated thinking that all the little stuff was what you knocked out without much effort in between big flashy projects. Luckily, my first job involved working with an art director who treated every ordinary project as though it was an opportunity to do great work – putting a great deal of care and skill into everything, especially the typography (and he really knew and understood typography). That was when I realized what design was really all about. It's about creating everything that makes up our visual world – and it's not easy. I think that’s one of the most important things to learn, and I think a design education should focus on that. Otherwise, a school is showing that it’s more concerned with looking impressive than with their students.

On Jul.08.2006 at 10:09 PM
fatknuckle’s comment is:

Just out of curiosity, and I know I'm late returning to the pary, but was it ever considered to drop the whole "shoesource" tag?

Looking at all of the comments most of them refer to them as payless anyway, and I'd venture to guess that ask 100 people at the mall (or the street) what "Payless" meant in relationship to shopping chances are they'd say shoes (cheap or otherwise.)

In looking at the images of the retail signage I agree with Mr. Spaeth that the use of the symbol, payless and shoesource on the fascia really "diminishes the value" of the Payless "Brand."

But that's just me tossing peanuts from the gallery...

On Jul.11.2006 at 01:08 AM
jenn.suz.hoy’s comment is:

Another example that bad design happens to good designers. It is frustrating that we so often live in a world that we studied and work our hardest to achieve effortless execution and flawless interpretation of our designs, just to be led by those who know nothing about design, and just want a carbon-copy of what they see most often.

It's the blind leading the unblind.

On Jul.11.2006 at 12:02 PM
fatknuckle’s comment is:

But it's not really. I think as a profession we've beaten ouselves down so much that we lack a spine when it comes to dealing with clients and projects and we've lost the art of selling the work.

I was dealing with a client recently who knew exactly what the wanted and were all ready to go with their great idea and watch it amaze the world and make them filthy stinking rich and respected.

5 years ago I would have done exactly what they wanted and not thought twice about it. But now, my first reaction is to put on the brakes. Get some insight and develop trust so when I tell them that its not what you want, but rather what you NEED they dont perceive me as some dilletante "arteeeest" but rather a strategic partner (not my wording but apropo nonetheless.)

I'm certainly not advocating a I always know what best for you behavior but rather get them to stop and chew on things for a while.

And if they dont like it, I throw a cup of some pretentious coffee drink on their crumpled Sears suits, punch them in the neck and storm out like a dilletante "arteeest."

On Jul.11.2006 at 02:39 PM
Greg’s comment is:

Marian Bantjes... I don't even know you and I like you.

On Jul.11.2006 at 06:48 PM
Candy Rudolf’s comment is:

reminds me a lot of Nick At Night's TV spots.

On Jul.12.2006 at 05:45 PM
JenB’s comment is:

Armin: Love love love what you had to say in your article!

Marian: Love love love your rant!

wow. great stuff. made my day.

On Jul.12.2006 at 06:28 PM
jeff mcclelland’s comment is:

Armin...great to see real passion with a real point of view. Substance over style as they say.
I saw b.i.g. mentioned. As the former Managing Director along with Judd and that creative mad scientist, Brian Collins, I'd say that is where the assignment should've gone(b.i.g.) At least there would have been a strategic attempt at design and rebranding versus design for designs sake. If that is design?
Jeff McClelland
Chief Executive Officer
Cliff Freeman and Partners

On Jul.12.2006 at 06:50 PM
Greg Scraper’s comment is:

I felt like it should be noted that the aforementioned Greg from above who quoth:

"Marian Bantjes... I don't even know you and I like you."

was not me. Not to say that the above statement isn't true for this Greg as well, it's just that my respect for Ms. Bantjes goes so much farther beyond mere plattitudes. Also, I should mention that I'm not attempting to impugn upon the feelings of a fellow Greg, but I felt a distinction should be made. From henceforth all comments made by this Greg shall include my last name, so as not to confuse anyone. In case you care.

On Jul.13.2006 at 02:02 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Of course we care. I follow the same policy so I don't get lumped in with the countless other Gunnars on this site. BTW, if you (Gregs and others) knew Marian then you’d like her even more.

On Jul.13.2006 at 02:18 PM
artbitz’s comment is:

The old logo may have said "cheap" (still I think it was not that bad, in a nostalgic, 80's sort of way), but the new attempt says "nothing". It is utterly forgettable, and looks to have been done by a "pick your swirl" web logo outfit. I would have preferred to see them attempt an update of the old logo rather than this.

On Jul.14.2006 at 03:34 PM
kate’s comment is:

I am a design educator and a payless shopper. I am wearing a pair of black slip on Steve Madden knockoffs right now that I purchased in peace for seven dollars (love the lack of customer service, by the way) at my local payless shoesource. I cherished the old logo, but as a graphic designer I loved it for its retro kitschiness. In fact, I remember wondering months ago when they were going to change the logo. The past few years or so they have been slowly working on changing their image. The trendy shoe knockoffs were arriving more quickly in the stores, the accessories were looking younger and I caught myself stopping in way more and finding something I liked almost every visit.

It was time for cooper black to die.

In my eyes, the old logo was too ironic, too retro, too only enjoyed by cynical dorks like me who appreciated the luscious curves of the cooper as they drove out of the payless parking lot on their way to the thrift store to search for ironic cheap clothing. I liked it to much and because of that I knew that it was doomed. Of course it would be replaced with a mark that is harmless, colorful in its application and doesn't raise eyebrows amongst the tweens and teens spending their babysitting money on cheap, yet trendy shoes that "oh my god, I swear these flats look like the ones that lindsay lohan was wearing while she was shopping at Fred Segal!" I am saddened by the loss of the old mark, but totally, totally not surprised by the replacement. This new logo is going to help payless make more money. Go graphic design?

On Jul.16.2006 at 06:39 PM
Mark’s comment is:

Wow it finally happened

About time for a change the logo had it coming all along.

The only thing I regret is the loss of the orange and yellow color scheme (which was eyecatching) and the elimination of the "O"s being circles.

But I have to admit the previous logo wasn't all that original/unique either I mean I could name 100s of companies who used cooper black as the font for their logos in the past such as....

Tootsie Roll,Cooper Tires,Easy Jet,Office Max(I think) and some others I can't think of right now.

Now only if they can change their stores...

On Jul.23.2006 at 01:11 PM
A.S.’s comment is:

Yeah, my post is really late and pointless now that basically everything has been said, but I'm a retrospect reader and I always read these when everyone else's interest has dwindled.

Anyway, thanks Armin for your passion for Cooper and branding in general. Aesthetically I'm right there with you. Who knows hip, fashion-conscious design better than us designers? We're culturally tuned-in, pushing boundaries, making waves. It's our job. I even sympathize with you a little bit nostalgically. But, I can't help think that all but one of you, who have posted, is actually a Payless customer and I really don't think we understand their audience and customer mind-set. I admit, neither am I and probably don't either. I would even guess that Kate is an exception in this case.

So here's my point. I find myself mulling over the recent corporate logo redux(s) and can't help but feel an over-whelming sense of, well... who gives a shit. Here's why, and this is going to come off as having a bad attitude...

1. It's fucking Payless! We're talking about the dollar store of shoes stores! If this was Aldo or Nine West, you may have reason for concern. This is like using Denny's as a sign for the downfall of dining trends and cuisine. In other words, low quality product begets low quality logo. It's the culture of cheap.

2. The people running Payless, and most large retail clothing companies (especially discount) are not interested in setting trends, taking risks, and making statements that actually say something. Have you been to Target lately (yes, out beloved Target)? It's probably the best example of design-focused marketing, yet it's clothing lines are a fucking rubber stamp for Urban Outfitters, which gets all their ideas from thrift-stores. The fashion industry is one copycat after another. Ironically, much of the same could be said for graphic design.

2. Designers don't change mega-corporations, investor trends do. CEOs follow their investor's interests, which is basically making money. Marketing Executives follow CEOs and the large mega-accounts they give the branding firms they work for, which keeps them in business and you employed. Designers just do the shit, get paid and go home to work on their fun freelance logo design for the friendly fashion-forward shoe boutique up the street, where they actually shop. Which brings me to my next point...

3. We know the difference between a $14 printed t-shirt at Old Navy and a hand numbered limited edition for $50 from a designer (where do you think Old Navy gets their designs from?). But a lot of people don't and/or don't care. Then there are those who don't know any better and can't afford to care. I would guess somewhere in that category you have a "typical" Payless customer (i.e. suburban middle-class mother and/or urban lower-class families). And therefore, someone who will undoubtedly really like the new Payless brand, simply because it's "up-to-date." I would even speculate the typical Payless customer will be excited and motivated to shop there when they see the new brand in the context of its advertisements.

4. Payless has 4,600 retail stores. That means you'll find them in places like Oklahoma, Idaho and Guam. Ever been to these places designers? We're not talking about our urban fashion-thrifty H&M here. Again, it's fucking Payless.

5. Finally, with respect to all mega-corporate logos, aren't the grand lot of them Bland, Safe, Neutral, and Vague?! Cleverness and style be damned, this is the very nature of the corporation, to be all things to all people. A virtual recipe for a lack of personality. It is this way, so these soul-less organizations can change, bastardize, and suck dry any and all profits available to them and any given time, 20 years ago and 20 years from now. Yes there are exceptions, and I've seen some good ones, but I would stand to guess that as corporations merge and merge, become bigger and biggest, more international and global, the following is happening and will continue to happen:

The mega-corporation logo's need to perform as universal object that can be applied to a variety of cultural platforms will, in terms of style, be reduced to extremely watered-down and nearly insignificant.

Case in point AT&T, UPS, Aflac, NWA, Payless, Kodak and many, many more. So if you want style and personality Armin, better stick with your NY designer boutique up the street. Soon enough, you'll find their ideas being basterdized, I mean democratized, by mega-corp Payless in Independence, MO. Where Matt Rubel and Shaq will have the last laugh. Ha ha ha!

On Jul.31.2006 at 02:43 AM
jeff mccclelland’s comment is:

The actual definition here is branding...and it looks like it's working. Looks great in store applications.
Great to blow up old approach and see new life coming rom new direction.

On Aug.07.2006 at 07:19 PM
elise’s comment is:

It's the perfect new logo for Payless! Is it “contemporary, fun, friendly and, above all, stylish.” or could it be, fickle, cheap, airhead, and above all- grab a knock off and follow the crowd! And the orange color is so perfect... I just want to shop shop when I see orange..delicious sherbet orange ...

On Aug.21.2006 at 10:27 PM
VHM’s comment is:

Can anyone tell me the typeface used for the new payless design?

On Jul.10.2007 at 01:13 PM
Yael Miller’s comment is:

Whether the logo is right or wrong, I think it's right for them to update their mark. It just makes sense. The point though, is really whether they will bring the entire shopping experience up-to-date if they plan on regaining the market share that Target's shoe department is eating into. I think they are concerned about their currently uncool status and want consumers to relate to them as a brand again.

If there is an uncool logo at the helm of an uncool shopping experience, no matter what they do to their product lineup, they will not attract customers.

Their new logo will open doors for them, but the litmus test will depend not on the skills of their logo designer, but rather if the brand EXPERIENCE echoes the mark's sentiments - fresh, trendy and low-cost style.

On Jul.10.2007 at 09:25 PM