Forget climate change, gun control, COVID, the war in the Ukraine and all of the other minor things going on in the world today… it’s time for LOGO WARS!
On March 20, New York launched a $20 million campaign featuring a riff on Milton Glaser’s I ♥ New York logo from 1977 and has since become a source of imitation for everything from hot dogs to computers. It might have been an emoji before there were emojis.
The new logo, not so much. At the most, it’s ordinary, at the worst it’s amateurish. The stacked version is totally off balance, the heart actually seems more old-fashioned because it’s shaded, and the font, which is supposed to be a variation of Massimo Vignelli’s subway font is clunky and not even close to the original. The horizontal version is, well, horizontal.
Looking at the designer’s website, I wonder where something this bad came from! Most of his work is fine, and I wish I had his client list! Having been through branding wars myself, I can’t help but wonder if a committee somewhere put his original ideas through a meat grinder.
The reaction has been so strong that the New York Times posted an article about it.
And this week, Pepsi debuted a new logo. Well, it’s sort of new, it harkens back to the logos they had from 1950-1997. It’s a major improvement over the current version, originated in 2008, but in my mind nowhere near as good as the 1905 version with its hand lettered script.
Pepsi’s marketing decision to bring black back into the logo is interesting. Right now black is used in the branding for Pepsi Zero Sugar and Pepsi wants to move away from its association with sugar (they sold off Tropicana and Naked juice brands). As the company moves away from sugar, they feel that the Zero Sugar branding is leading the way. So black.
Turning to fashion, which is something I almost never do, Burberry has moved its logo from the “let’s plunk down a sans serif font and call it a logo” to a more elegant serif font. The brand also brought back the equestrian knight (originally from 1901, dropped in 2018) with “forward” in latin on its pennant as the primary visual. Apparently, this is a seismic moment in fashion branding, getting away from sans serif to more traditional feeling typography.
The fact is, a logo is only a small part of the branding mix today, maybe that’s why a lot of the current logos seem like throw-aways. But that’s no excuse for creatives and marketing folks to take the easy way out. A good logo requires thought, creativity and not just research. Take away the first two elements and what you get is plain vanilla, which is fine, but it gets lost in the shuffle.
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