Friday, September 21, 2012

‘KISS’ Branding (you can kiss creative, cutting-edge logos goodbye)

Say it ain’t so!

It’s been a while since our last “Facelift Friday” (new logo) feature. I was a little surprised, as late Q3 typically serves as the high-water mark for logo revisions.

Just like us humans, brands looking to drop a few pounds or change up their hair try to do so before the highly-visible hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

So I decided to go back through my “new logo” Google news alert (yes, I actually have an alert) – and realized there were actually quite a few new marks unveiled this summer.  Why didn’t I see them before?

No news is good news?
No, in the case of logos, no news means boring news.

Why when it comes to re-envisioning brand does it seem companies regardless of shape and size are suffering from groupthink?

Everyone is opting to simplify; less is more. It’s a phenomena we attribute in part to the growing need for brands to be scalable – to acquire an identity that doesn’t lose impact when shrunk-to-fit digital and mobile platforms. 

But does everything have to possess a blank, spare look?

The prevalence of san serif typefaces, Helvetica(-ish) in particular, have become all the rage with playing it safe corporate America.

Here are just a few recent changes:
USA TODAY and Microsoft are perhaps the most drastic departures from their former selves. But I’m less focused on the before vs. after of any individual brand and more concerned with the whole.

If you just eye down the left column, you see four different and distinct brand marks; complex and proprietary shape configurations, layering, and (at the very least,) the use of italics.

Whether you like any individual look or not, you still see variety.

Do the same with the right and try not to fall asleep. Variation is limited to casing, colors, and (in the most dynamic situations), which universal shape configuration one brand is going to embrace over another.


More importantly, how did we get here? I thought branding was about standing out?

Maybe logo design adaptation and trends follow a trajectory similar to that of the fashion industry? A few well regarded, successful brands set the “look” and other brands follow with aspiration.

Think Apple and Starbucks.

In the last few years both have opted for simple flat logos and sans-serif type; few words paired with a lot of blank space. Can we assume that with sufficient repetition, this look became synonymous with their hip, always-fresh success? That as other companies looked to redefine themselves there subconscious gravitated towards similar visual treatments?  


But I don’t want to live in a world where creativity is squelched in the name of safe, homogenized branding!

Branding renegades and trendsetters welcome. :)

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