2012 and 2013 brought stripped down logos to the design world. You might recognize this in some of the corporate logo redesigns that have been released recently. But is this a good thing for the world of design?
You might remember that the original Google logo had a bevel and a drop shadow. Both have been stripped out now, leaving us undistracted from its signature typeface and bright color range. To me, this is an improvement, reflecting the original advantage Google had over other search engines: a simple interface and web search functionality. Thumbs up!
The Windows logo recently got an update from Pentagram, evolving from black text paired with a wavy 4-color flag, to a flat 4-color flag, to now a one-color blue logo with the flag in perspective. To me, this most recent version dulls the brand — with the bright colors, I had hope that using Windows would brighten my day. Now I feel dread that I might have to use Microsoft products all day at work. Thumbs down.
The original WeightWatchers logo was definitely due for an update. This was a complete redesign: the logo mark was dropped; new color; all lowercase approach to the typography. I assume the gradient approach was to convey losing weight…or fading away to a shell of oneself? In any case, you can’t get much simpler than a grey color, and lowercase sans serif typography. I’m on the fence about this one, with slightly negative feelings.
New logo FAILs!
The Gap released a new logo in 2010 that was completely rejected by the public at large via Twitter and social media. They restored the old logo within a week. This might be an example of stripping down a bit too much…it doesn’t feel sophisticated whatsoever, especially bad for a much-beloved 40 year old brand. It does remind me of a couple of logo projects I did in design school…ouch! They are still using the reversed GAP text in the blue square.
In my opinion, the UAL (University of the Arts London) logo suffers the same problem as the Gap logo. It looks like someone in the administration office proudly did some designing in PowerPoint. Too bad for such a prestigious institution. To me, this is a very disappointing Pentagram design. Lesson learned: maybe stay away from the too-familiar-yet-beloved Helvetica for the typeface? You can see it’s the same as the Gap logo above.
The University of California recently overhauled its logo as well. This logo was also completely rejected by the public, which I think is too bad — it’s a nice piece of identity design and could have gone a long way to unite the disparate UC system. But alas, a petition was roused by Change.org to drop the logo and the university eventually withdrew it. More like Change.not. Oh well!
So…to simplify or not? Personally, I prefer a simple logo. The goal is for the logo to be useful and memorable. It’s easier to maintain brand standards with a simple logo, and it’s easier to use for various purposes. But simple still needs to feel professional, and the logo should always reflect the goals, history, and brand of the company or organization. That’s what we prioritize.