Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Hate to Keep Harping on This, But...

Saul Bass designed his original AT&T logo in 1983, and it has remained more or less intact until this year. Branding specialists, more than anyone else, know that logos must be used consistently, and that any inconsistency in the application of a company's logo degrades the brand identity. It's important to design a logo with staying power, and not a trendy one that relies on the current technology. As we all know, new versions of software roll out every six months, so in less than a year, something else will be trendy, and your logo will be out of date.


Compare the UPS logo with AT&T's; you can see that gradients or blends were used to make the highlights and shadows on UPS's mark, while AT&T's mark appears to be executed using the latest 3D ray-tracing technology. In a few months we may see a new logo executed using technology that makes AT&T's logo look out-of-date. Remember when the blue-and-white iMac or G3 computers were the coolest thing? Compared to today's G5, they look old. Computer technology has a shelf life, but brand identity must not.

Here is a link to a PDF listing the evolution of the AT&T logo. The new AT&T brand avatar is presented in 3D and (in the upper left corner) as line artwork; two logos means less memorability, so why not just have one? The simple one.

Related posts:
October 13th--Simplicity in Logo Design link
November 21st--What Do You Think of the New AT&T Logo? link
November 23rd--Reaction to New AT&T and UPS Logos link
November 25th--AIM Jumps on the Bandwagon and "Rebrands its Avatar" link
December 1st--Judges Select Logos for LogoLounge III Book link


Jack Yan said...

These logo designers have forgotten one important thing: timelessness. Logos need to serve a brand strategy, and a strategy by definition must last for more than five years. These redone classics will last a few seasons. With the exception of Star Trek: the Next Generation, the remakes usually don’t last as long. Logos often work on the same principle.

Elio L. Arteaga, MFA said...

Thanks for your comments, Jack.

Star Trek The Next Generation, just happens to be my favorite of the Trek series. Watch any episode of Star Trek Original Recipe, or Next Generation, and the story lines are entertaining to this day. Sure the technology portrayed on the original series is a bit outdated, but compare the episodes with Voyager or Enterprise--the technology looks appropriately futuristic, but the stories lack the fun of the stories on Star Trek Original, Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

Jack Yan said...

e!Lo, you’re very right, and thank you for responding to me. There was an element of ‘This show needs to be about more than just now,’ and those who worked on the series endowed them with a sense of forward-looking optimism. I am sure this is why there are so many Star Trek fans out there, both of the original and of The Next Generation. Businesses and logos need to have the same sense of optimism to capture people’s imaginations—and that optimism has to be more than about “right now”.
   Another good example of a show that was just ahead of its time was The Avengers, which had a similar sense of fun that attempted remakes have not been able to seize.