Some stories you search for. Some stories come to you. This particular article about JCPenney’s American-themed logo revamp was sent to me by my Art Direction Seminar Professor. The link is here but no need to leave this webpage. I’ll let you in on the details and conflicting opinions anyway. To provide some background, JCPenney’s logo has changed, changed, and changed again. A little over a year ago, the clothing giant hosted a contest with over 200 submitted designs to revamp their logo and, to be honest, I am stunned at the winner. I guess you could call that a transformation, but it’s almost-the-same appearance deemed the contest unnecessary. Anyways, enough with the rambling. Back to the article. Okay. Though the author of the article raves about the new logo and is probably a bit more credible than the opinion of a senior college student, I’m not the biggest fan. Yes, I love the simplicity. Yes, I like that it incorporates the stores American history and their cheesy Fair and Square motto (even though I don’t really think America when I see it and had no idea of what the square stood for before reading this article). Do I think it is groundbreaking, way more recognizable, and, as the author states, “damn impressive?” No. This logo is not versatile. How will it look in multiple spaces? By the looks of their new shopping bags, it is not a pleasant contrast to the background image’s colors.The red white and blue thing is overdone. Meet the NFL, Superman, the Underground logo in the post below, and Pepsi. Feels like a copout no matter what meaning you put behind it. Each design has been better than the one before, slightly, but its not super impressive. I will be more than happy to enter the logo contest within the next couple years when this logo does not catch on like they had hoped.
Before we get to the “oohs” and “awes” of logo design, it is time for a generic post so we know how to judge the good vs the bad. After visiting the site of Graphic Designer Jacob Cass (justcreativedesign.com), I am a bit more knowledgeable of what characteristics make a first-rate logo. Let’s break it down into five. Simplicity, Memorability, Timelessness, Versatility, and Appropriateness are key. The purpose of a logo is to convey a brand’s message so why not create it in a way that is appealing to consumers. Quite simply, simplicity is memorable amongst the clutter that logos are always found. We have heard the acronym K.I.S.S. so many times throughout the advertising industry and yes, it applies here too. Memorability usually attaches to the characteristic of simplicity because, if it is simple, it is probably more recognizable. Timeless logos have the ability to be effective next year, 10 years after that, and 30 years after that. A good judge of if a logo is versatile is it’s ability to work over different media. Can it fit in a small space? Can it look nice large on a billboard? Quick tip: working on a logo in black and white first is a good way to test how a logo interacts in it’s simplest form. Of course, lastly, it should be appropriate. Does it work for the message that is trying to be conveyed? But enough with the lecturing. Let’s judge some examples. Can you guess, using the criteria above, which logos work and which are less effective?
Answers (just incase it is not clear): Good logos: World Wildlife Fund, Underground; Bad logos: Tree Doctor, Hip Hop For HIV
I’m sorry if the competition felt unfair because the good logos are more successful brands but I won’t be sorry for a pitiful display of trying to do way too much. I dare you to copy all four images to your desktop (to where they turn into tiny thumbnails) and view the clarity of the goods and the mess of the bads.
May all logos be clean, neat, and memorable.
For my first post, I think it is extremely important that I hit a few things. This post has the potential to be boring but I assure you that it is indeed necessary. I created this blog because I want to become more knowledgable about one of the most important, consistently-overlooked pieces of advertising, the logo. Logos give a brand something that is extremely hard to get from anything else. That something is instant recognition. We are all familiar with the logo heavyweights (McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s swoosh, and Apple’s…well… Apple). These are perfect examples of brand recognition that work. It is spectacular that a brand, no matter how complex, is immediately recognized by a simple symbol. Who knew that something so small in the corner of a print ad or so quickly viewed at the end of a TV spot could make such a large impact for a brand? Logos are fascinating. But don’t let me tell you, let me show you.