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Oxford University Press’s new logo is unfathomably bad (joukovsky.substack.com)
281 points by vitabenes 82 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 329 comments

I found the Met's rebrand interesting to consider.

I am on the younger side/moved to New York recently. Without knowing the history of the Met logo I have always found the (new) logo fairly iconic- the stickers visitors wear, and the various paraphernalia with the logo look good to me. I find it clean and sharp. I think I actually prefer it to the old logo (which I do not remember seeing before today)

People fear change and cling to nostalgia. That's part of it. Another thing is people identify themselves with brands, so when the brand changes, it's like a part of them changes, without their input or consent (!!). That you've never known the old logo frees you from these constraints.

I try not to care about corporate logos too much, but I have to say I was little betrayed when my football team changed their typeface from a unique font to a more generic one, because I feel that represents me and my city (even moreso than my city's local museum, whose new logo I don't prefer, but I don't let it get to me).

> People fear change and cling to nostalgia. That's part of it.

People devalue the past is another.

As someone who never saw the old or the new logo before today, the old logo looks ugly and forgettable to me. If you gave me $1000 a week from now, I don’t think I can recall what organization that logo belongs to

It reminds me of that Structure clothing store that was in malls in the 90s.

Still around, just rebranded as Express for Men

I like it because it adapted its image to its nickname. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art" is the museum's full name - embracing "The Met" formally is a nice, humanizing touch.

As a tourist, I prefer the full name. I never knew what "the Met" was until know. It clearly stands for Metropolitan. But Metropolitan what? Police? Works? The full name is much more accessible and less intimidating.

Sounds like a local nickname for a train line to me.

It's interesting because there also are The Mets. So you have the Met and the Mets, but nobody familiar with both would ever think of the other when hearing either.

That would make for a great fundraising gala. The Mets at The Met

But where did they meet? Was it at the Met?

"The Mets met at the Met".

And what did they meet? Was it also the Met?

And who was on the first base?


They met on The Met

In Ireland the first thing that comes to mind is probably "the met office" which is our national weather / meteorological service. See http://met.ie

Ask any British person what 'The Met' is and they'll say 'London police' (or similar).

I doubt an American museum could ever change that, embracing something so generic is limiting for identity & brand awareness IMO.

London has the Underground. Something that sounds generic actually is well known to the locals and is part of the culture, the identity, the attraction of a place. Same story here.

The equivalent (similarly generic) name is 'the tube' as sibling commenter points out, which Transport for London doesn't use as far as I'm aware, but even if they did, they don't have the same goals as far as I'm aware.

One might think it'd be similarly aiming to capture the hearts and minds of tourists, but TfL's been so aggressively pro-Oyster, then/now contactless, that afaict it's always been just about as hard as possible for tourists while still being convenient for Londoners. It makes some sort of sense, it's subsidised by the London taxpayer after all - so it is 'by Londoners for Londoners' - but I think surely it would be possible simultaneously to make it easier for and capture more money from tourists. I digress - point was I think to be that TfL doesn't really care about brand, especially not globally. Maybe I'm wrong to assume that 'the met' does.

Everyone calls it the tube there but still.

As a non-local, when I hear "tube" I think toothpaste, swimming and repairing tire punctures. Mass transit may not even be in my top 5 - and that's fine.

Human language ambiguity and locals have their shibboleths - we don't have to optimize for tourists.


Another shibboleth: donut-shaped inflatable pool floaties are called "inner tubes" 'round here.

Oh! To be honest I'm not actually sure what we call those ('pool inflatables' is all I can think of, somewhat generic) but I don't think it's tubes/inner tubes.

Ask anyone outside of Britain what "The Met" is and you'll hear about the museum.

I don't think one very small country should be the primary blocker to their branding decisions.

Even in Britain, the context will clear it up straight away. Humans are, theoretically at least, very good at dealing with ambiguity. I'm hard pressed to think of a conversation where context clues wouldn't either make it abundantly clear, or prompt further questions about, which "Met" one is talking about, between a world famous art gallery and the police head quarters probably more famously known by another name.

Would this conversation ever happen?

I'm going on holiday to New York City. I'm going to the Met to check out their impressionist paintings.

Oh, they turned Scotland Yard into an art gallery now?

The met put out a press release

I'm applying for a job at/in (the only tiny difference) the met

Nevermind all the sentences you could come up with where the context is revealed only later, so yes you immediately realise you had it wrong, but you had it wrong.

It's not really about 'people will be confused' anyway, I just mean it's bad brand awareness, it weakens the identity.

The only example I can think of with a strong brand for a generic name is Apple.

Shouldn't it be Canada Yard or something?

Curious as to what your definition of very small is. The UK is above median land area for a country, #21 for population, #6 for gdp, it's principal island is the 9th largest.

I mean, yes, the UK is not the same scale as the USA, China, India etc, but I'd put to you that it is not so very small

England has about 2% of the area of the US, so from a US perspective, it's quite small.

Double the population of Canada though.

I agree we're small, much smaller than the USA by any metric, but surely we're talking about population rather than land mass here.

That's true, population matters more. As does wealth and cultural influence, both of which are hugely outsized in England's case.

American here. My first thought is the opera. And I've traveled to NYC just to visit the museum.

Spent most of my life in NYC, and if you say "The Met" in to someone in the city 99/100 people will assume you mean the museum.

I didn't mean it like 'think of the British', I meant 'think of yourself' - you want a strong brand identity right, that's the whole point of this kind of exercise I assume, and you have a much better shot at that with something unique/specific/weird.

Nobody outside of the UK is thinking about police foremost when they here 'met', (unless there's similarly named constabularies elsewhere perhaps, wouldn't surprise me if someone piped up from HK/India/Australia to say their city's police is also 'the met' for example) but that doesn't matter to that met.

Say there's some artist called so-and-so Park, you'd be ill-advised to start a gallery called 'The Park', it's not at all unique, it's poorly googleable, it's unlikely to ever be the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears the name.

Another example: I think OnePlus (or is it OnePlusOne? I honestly don't even know) - the phone company - is held back by its poor choice of name. I'm not denying its success, I just think it's despite the name, that it could be a lot bigger, have a much stronger brand.

I imagine you'd hear more about the Opera. But then I am British.

I'm outside of Britain and I've never heard of the museum. never.

"The Met" is also the opera. "The Mets" is a sports team.

It's pretty confusing.

Similar frustration with Vegas: The have Caesar's Palace, which is a long walk from Caesar's Forum. And on top of that, Caesar's Palace also has a food court/shopping center inside it that they call ... The Forum. Facepalm.

It confuses me. There's also the Metropolitan Opera, the Metropolitan Club, the Metropolitan Life Insurance company and probably a dozen more. At least the baseball team, the NY Mets, is plural.

I cringe every time I see the second E. That weirdly mangled serif just rubs me the wrong way.

The old logo was honestly a bit messy, too, though.

Anecdotally, I don’t mind the Es, I like some sort of organic flow in them.

Lower serifs on the Ts though, those I dislike very much.

Yeah, big picture design trends aside, the new Met logo is substantially more beautiful than the previous one. The old one is frankly clipart-y.

I like the old logo more. It looks less commercial, more old-fashioned, and less sleek, which I think is a good thing for a museum.

Ooh, ooh. I have one to share! The infamous "Case" Fat Man With a Surfboard logo:


Is it as bad as the Met's new logo? Probably not. Is it pretty objectionable, and universally maligned? Yeah, definitely.

Anybody else got one to share for our shared schadenfreude?

Serious Pie, in Seattle:


scroll down until you see the man with his penis on fire. It's on all their signs.

I don't even understand what was supposed to be the intended interpretation. A man holding a tiny pizza on fire?

Wow, I can’t unsee this now. I guess I can thank you for some regular humor in my life as I go walking now.

Having your penis on fire seems like some pretty serious pie, so seems appropriate.

But it's not so bad when your legs grow out of your neck, right?

> scroll down until you see the man with his penis on fire. It's on all their signs.

Why does he also have no arms?

> Fat Man With a Surfboard

Wow, this took me a second but now it’s the only thing I can see.

The 2020 MLB spring training hat logos were universally hated, but the Padres had a notably bad one: https://www.crossingbroad.com/2020/02/padres-changing-spring...

It's a good luck charm.

Some therapists moved into an office in the same building my employer was in, and they had this logo on their sign [1].

I think it is supposed to represent two arms grasping each other, but that wasn't the first thing that came to mind when I saw it.

[1] https://imgur.com/a/kXl5S36

Thanks for the laugh. That got me good.

Academic logos are often awful. Take Roskilde University's logo, for instance:


I used to call it "brain sponge" when I was a PhD student there. (I liked that university a lot, don't get me wrong, just talking about the logo).

I'm sure many people called it Roadkill University with that logo.

> Fat Man With a Surfboard logo:

Yeah, this new OUP logo looks great for a surf school too. Definitely a wave in the circle.

Who cares? It says Oxford University Press which is the important part. The little image above it is just fluff and literally doesn't matter. I certainly wouldn't call it 'unfathomably bad' considering it's not a child's drawing or a some obscene gesture.

> Who cares? It says Oxford University Press which is the important part. The little image above it is just fluff and literally doesn't matter. I certainly wouldn't call it 'unfathomably bad' considering it's not a child's drawing or a some obscene gesture.

It's modernist, minimalist crap, indistinguishable from all the other modernist, minimalist crap. Everyone might as well rebrand as solid-color circle distinguished by a numerically unique RGB value.

Their old logo was much better, since it harkens back to a literal coat of arms, which isn't something you see every day.

which isn't something you see every day.

Undoubtedly influenced by Oxford and Cambridge but it's a design style adopted by so many universities it's practically generic for 'some sort of university thing logo'. I don't have strong feelings about the new logo either way but the idea the old one is some distinctive masterpiece seems misplaced.

When you’re one of the oldest universities in the world though, I think sticking with the old logo conveys a subtle gravitas and confidence in your legacy, much more than constant rebranding that says “look at me”.

I'm not sure it's obvious it conveys anything beside 'looks like everyone else'.

It's like the GP comment complaining about 'modernist, minimalist crap, indistinguishable from all the other modernist, minimalist crap' never ran across one of the most recognizable university press marks out there:


Yes I don’t think there is anything obvious here, de gustibus non disputatum after all.

I am a big fan of modernism even minimalism done well. MIT is an engineering school and its logo fits. I just object to lazy or default minimalism.

> a literal coat of arms, which isn't something you see every day

Except that a coat of arms has got to be THE most common logo for anything university related. I don't like the new one at all, but if you'd showed me the old one and asked me what it was for I'd have had no idea. Not memorable or recognizable at all, even if it is their coat of arms.

> Except that a coat of arms has got to be THE most common logo for anything university related.

And the generic geometric object with some subtle styling has got to be THE most common logo for anything period.

> It's modernist, minimalist crap, indistinguishable from all the other modernist, minimalist crap

Which is, like, just your opinion, man.

Pretty good opinion, though.

> Their old logo was much better, since it harkens back to a literal coat of arms, which isn't something you see every day.

Maybe here not there, but A quick google search suggests a university with a coat of arms logo is very common.

To me the old logo had some meaning, the new, is just one more tryng to fit in an app icon.

It's probably good for a few seconds of confusion on the part of people who see the logo and don't recognize it because it looks like a zillion other logos and has no continuity with the old logo.

So no big deal.

Although. There is Steve Jobs line. Where's he's trying to get engineers on the original Mac to eek out just a slight faster boot. We're going to sell 100 million of these things, can you make it boot 25 seconds faster? If you do that will save cumulatively 90 years worth of time. That's a human life. Can you save a human life!

I mean it's dumb and maybe funny but a minor annoyance over a long enough time and enough people could be worth complaining about.

I care. I own a number of Oxford press books. The old logo says to me “serious, distinguished, trustworthy, academic, has been around long enough to be taken seriously, etc.”

The new logo is not one I could take seriously.

If you're buying books based on the logo, you're doing it very wrong.

Presumably the people at OUP do care, because they actually paid for it. That's the author's point: if you are trying to signal something with a rebrand, how about putting the money into the actual thing instead of going through a pointless rebranding exercise and losing your identity in the process?

It's lost history. The Latin text on the old logo connects the present with the past. There would have been thousands of instances where people would have thought "what does that mean" and have a browse through history.

Airbrushed and homogenised in favour of a tire.

That history represents 400 years of colonialism. Latin represents classism and racism and denies the history of billions of marginalized peoples.

Thus, it must change because the purpose of a university is not to retain cultures and histories when no one else cares, it's not to improve the mental capabilities of the students.

It purpose instead is to pursue equity in 2 senses: no especially talented people of the wrong* parents are allowed to gain inordinate skills and the foundation makes gobs of money.

(*) Determination of wrongness changes over time, and the adage "2 wrongs don't make a right" is considered tomfoolery.

> That history represents 400 years of colonialism. Latin represents classism and racism and denies the history of billions of marginalized peoples.

Do the marginalised peoples include the native Britons who were conquered by the Romans? Or is there a cut off point in your view of history? If the now native Britons, like me, want to retain links to the past, then should that be disallowed?

I like the Latin inscription, as it keeps a connection with the past. Good and bad, it is history I want to be connected to. I find the idea that it needs to be airbrushed bizarre, and the idea that Latin is solely a tool of "oppression" a complete misreading of history.


DOMINUS ILLUMINATIO MEA = The Lord is my light

I can't open a logo generating website and not get that as a result. It's trash.

If it doesn’t matter, why change it, or why have a logo at all?

It doesn't seem you fully grasp the concept of brand recognition.

Spend some time researching the subject and it will make more sense.

> “Try to be brutally honest with yourself: is the goal actual innovation? Or is really to appear innovative?” I have asked these questions of many senior executives now, assuring them I am not being glib

This type of reaction eats itself. If you're a person who prioritizes "actual innovation," why are you spending so much time complaining about a fucking logo redesign?

> explaining that these objectives are often in fundamental opposition to one another.

No, they're not. Is Apple innovative? Is Google? Both examples of companies who have demonstrated tremendous amount of investment in design updates over the years. Heck, they even created custom fonts for their blog posts.

I totally understand and appreciate design critiques. Aesthetic opinions are valuable in and of themselves. I even happen to agree with the author that the new Oxford Press logo is worse than their old one. But I have to jump off the wagon when this sort of exaggeration shows up.

> If you're a person who prioritizes "actual innovation," why are you spending so much time complaining about a fucking logo redesign

Because that logo redesign does not produce any actual innovation.

> Heck, they even created custom fonts for their blog posts.

These companies have lots of money, lots of managers, lots of designers. Those people would have nothing to do if they don't rebrand, create new fonts etc. They can't just sit idle in office and take salary. If those fonts were not made, nothing would have changed right now, the company would not have any less progress in any way.

People also do these to have something big on their resume, to get promotion. This is what lots of humans do now, bullshit jobs even though there are much bigger problems to fix in the world.

I profoundly dislike the new logo as it erodes an ever diminishing bygone-era of graphic design.

Traditional cyphers, monograms and other iconography are time-bound to the pre-20th century (n < 1901). In recent years I've noticed an acute shift to brutalism, minimalism and a loss of individuality in all facets of life. One needs to look no further than something as mundane as bollards, forgive me for my tangent but consider these two examples, one from the 19th century [1] and another from the 20th [2]. Granted this is not a scientific or thorough analysis, it is surely riddled with bias, but there is an unmistable trend towards not just forgetting, but neglecting our history of design and ornamentation.

Not everything needs to be redesigned, not everything needs a modern sans-serif font. Oxford University is the worlds foremost academic institute; founded in 1096; the Press founded in 1586! The previous logo represented this ancient authority and acts as a vessel to a far-away land in this present day.

This type of craftsmanship can not be created anew for they are not of this time, the juxtaposition of such symbolism paired with a modern institute would be nothing less of disingenuous. Therefore we must - for the good of history - preserve these works.

1: https://assets.londonist.com/uploads/2022/06/i875/guard_post... 2: https://kentstainless1.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/...

Perceived loss of individuality is frequently just an outcome of a design epoch change. Most logos that we thought were unique and had lots of individuality came from an era when that particular graphic design style was en vogue. Then later the logos were updated to better follow new trends (a vary fair desire for a business). Yes, Art Nouveau logos were pretty but the vast majority of logos in that era were designed in that style (so not some amazing level of individuality). Same with the sci-fi logos in the 80s (which I still think were ugly). Same with any other trend. Not really a question of individuality.

> Not everything needs to be redesigned, not everything needs a modern sans-serif font.

If the new typeface reads better then why not use it? If the new logo fits a wider variety of placements or prompts a better response from this generation then why not use it?

Hard, hard disagree. This good article has been discussed before on HN: https://velvetshark.com/articles/why-do-brands-change-their-...

It's not just a "perceived" loss of individuality. The new logos discussed in that linked article, especially the fashion ones, suck in my opinion because they're boring and they all look the same. They at least used to have some good degree of variability.

Hm, the first example - Revolut. The fact that the author thinks the original logo was recognizable or had any character is very questionable.

Revolut was founded in 2015, the time when a huge number of startups (including my own) had blue logos with a light gradient. This is such a cliche logo that it's almost laughable to even take seriously. Do you not remember 2015 and the wave of blue tech logos?

The point isn’t that the old logo was good, they include a similar AirBnb one on that list, the point is pure black is even less distinctive.

The new logo is objectively less distinctive as a shorter sentence can completely describe it.

Less distinctive than what? The original logo was a trend with thousands of logos looking like generic versions of each other. Was Revolut's logo distinctive back then? No. Then years later many logos followed a new trend and became another flavor of "not distinctive". I am not saying that old or new logo is better: they are all pretty generic. Always have been. We only recognize them as having character when we look at past iterations because we are so used to the current ones. Saying that, in my view the old logo was really ugly. The new one is just really generic.

Both logos include the same word in a uniform font which cancels out in the comparison.

However, there are objectively millions of ways to setup a blue color gradient around white letters that all look the same. There is exactly one way to have a pure black font.

Therefore the second logo is objectively less distinctive.

There is no objective way to evaluate this. It’s always in relation to something else. If we take 1000 blue logos (with different gradients and letter arrangement) and compare them to this single black logo: the black logo will be _objectively_ more distinctive.

There is nothing objective in picking some specific subset of logos for comparison vs all possible logos

You created a subjective measurement.

Variation does not equal distinction. You can have millions of gradients around white letters which will not be perceived by anyone as distinctive. On the other hand you can have black letters arranged in a million ways that will look distinctive. It's all a subjective selection.

There is an infinite number of ways to design a black logo. There is an infinite number of ways to design a blue logo. So which infinity has more distinctive logos?

Not all infinites are the same size, but that’s irrelevant as there are only a finite number of perceivably distinct logos.

Anyway, for any distinct set of black logos you can map them to a larger set of blue gradient labels therefore the number of distinct blue logos with gradients is larger.

Design is of course a fashion business like most things.

That said, a lot of traditional logos had a huge amount of fine detail that doesn't work well on mobile. While not the only factor, it's at least one motivator for a lot of the rebranding/logo redesigns that you're seeing.

I don't really buy that. I mean, maybe with older phones. But I guarantee 98% of people buying Balenciaga or YSL or Diane von Fürstenberg have an iPhone that is more than capable of displaying extremely fine detail very well.

That screens are (in many cases) very high res these days doesn't mean that the eyes looking at a small screen are. The irony is that many of the same designers who are coming up with simple unadorned logos are also fond of tiny grey text.

You seem to be discussing individuality in style choice, while totally ignoring capacity for individuality within the style that is en vogue. Brutalist/minimalist logos with modern san serif fonts don't leave much room to explore for individuality. Meanwhile art nouveau or 80s sci-fi for example had a LOT of overhead for flexing individuality.

I agree with this argument to a degree. However, we are not comparing coats of arms, or Art Nouveau logos. We are clinging to this particular coat of arms, saying that it has much more individuality than the updated logo. Of course it does: the level of detail is different, it feels old and pompous. It has crowns. Three of them. It has Latin words. In all caps. Lots of character. Though probably looked completely generic when it was introduced in the 16-th century.

We overestimate the individuality and even the capacity for individuality of old things. Yes, anyone could add different squiggles and different Latin words -- but I doubt this is what you mean by "capacity for individuality within the style".

Modern logos are very minimalist, which I agree leaves less space for expressive individuality (basically by definition). But great modern logos are still possible, and they still often convey a deeper, more individual meaning.

For a positive example of a modernist logo that is distinctive and characterful (that someone down thread was showing as another example of a generic logo, so YMMV), the Royal Astronomical Society has a quite beautiful one [0].

[0] https://www.creativebloq.com/news/royal-astronomical-society...

Minimalism is also a tradition in logos. A logo needs to serve many purposes, one of which is being recognizable even under poor visibility. Many national flags are the height of minimal design, because one key goal for them was to be seen in battle so you knew where your side was.

Modern technology has different reasons for a similar purpose. Resolution may be poor because of your screen or network rather than battle smoke, but the idea is similar.

The OUP logo isn't a battle flag, and could afford more detail than this logo. But OUP is a living entity. Its history is important, but so are its ongoing contributions. They don't want people looking at their books and thinking, "This logo is very old-fashioned; maybe the book is also out of date."

Were it me, I'd have at least hinted at its prior logo. To me, the problem with the new one isn't its minimalism, but its lack of personality. You don't need a lot to have personality; the Twitter logo is very much theirs. Even the Facebook "f" logo, dull as it is, at least has a letter linking to them. (A circle isn't an O; it might even have worked better if it were an O with the same theme.)

Flag design can be too minimalistic.

Indonesia is Poland distressed (and vice versa).

(See: <https://www.wikihow.com/Know-if-a-Union-Jack-Has-Been-Hung-U...> for general concept.)

There are near-identical flags as well, including Chad and Romania, Indonesia (again) and Morocco, New Zealand and Australia, Ireland and Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, Senegal and Mali, and clusters such as the Nordics (blue/red cross/field), Latin America (yellow, blue, red), and Slavic states (white, blue, and red).


There's the challenge between readily identified and readily distinguished.

My undergrad university went with too much minimalism. It replaced an stylized crest (anachronistic for a university founded in 1965) with a "red brick". Note that The Concrete University has no bricks to which this might be a reference:


While your points are technically valid, there is a balance that needs to be struct without losing its core value and purpose. I think this is the cliche explanation for making logos that do not serve their core purpose: To differentiate and iconify an identity.

I am kind of in GP's camp, design culture has gone to shit in last 20 years. It's not even Brutalism/Minimalism in the true sense of the word, those movements were post-modern starting from 1950's triggered by the zeitgeist of Bauhause in 1930's. What you're seeing today is deep lack of understanding and following each other like a mad mob. It is to nullify identity, doing exactly what it is not intended to.

Hell, even macOS and Windows look similar today. They're converging on a singular global monoculture.

It reminds me of an old Digitiser article, called ‘Modern Game Logos are Rubbish’. It was written in 2016 and discussed the burgeoning trend of using a distressed Impact font for game titles and logos, but more generally a shift away from ‘fun’ looking logos.


From my simplistic outsider perspective, sometimes I think that designers read “perfection is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away,” and take it so literally that logos and brands start to converge on a single style (simple coloured shapes, sans-serif font).

Is it really 'neglect', when ornamentation is deliberately attacked and avoided [1,2]? When this [3] is what modern architecture thinks a church should look like? They'll give excuses that it's due to cost cutting, then build things like [4] when funding isn't an issue.

Not that we should be surprised by lies - all war is waged by deception.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornament_and_Crime

[2] https://theculturetrip.com/europe/articles/ornament-is-crime...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiser_Wilhelm_Memorial_Church... - The initial design included the demolition of the spire of the old church but following pressure from the public, it was decided to incorporate it into the new design.

[4] https://www.format.com/magazine/galleries/design/best-contem...

Frankly, I think all of the buildings from your link 4 look breathtaking. They inspire a sense of awe and wonder in me - they don't look real or plausible in some way, but yet there they are, in the large. Having lots of ornamentation would very much detract from the un-real-ness of the surfaces.

The church from 3 really does look atrocious though - though even there, the interior where you are surrounded by stained glass seems like it would be quite impressive to experience directly.

Note that I also think other styles of monumental buildings are breathtaking. I was recently in Florence and could barely take my eyes off of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral (with its 19th century Gothic Revival facade), and similarly when I saw the Duomo in Milan or the San Pietro cathedral in Rome. But part of the beauty of architecture is seeing different styles. Another stunning building was the Pantheon in Rome - which is extremely minimalistic when compared to medieval cathedrals, but still outstanding in its design (knowing you're walking into a >2000 year old building also adds to the feeling).

I'm sure architects will eventually have their fill with brutalism and invent something new after it, and there will also be beautfiul examples of that new thing, and horrible examples as well.

> Frankly, I think all of the buildings from your link 4 look breathtaking. [..] But part of the beauty of architecture is seeing different styles.

And if there was a multitude of styles being built, I would be inclined to agree to disagree, subjective opinions will differ, and leave it at that. But they are not - 90%, if not more, of new buildings, especially large ones, all strive for that minimalist, steel & glass, unpleasant sterile aesthetic. It is not 30% modernist monstrosities, 30% art deco skycrapers, 30% art noveau, 10% classical revival.

> I'm sure architects will eventually have their fill with brutalism

Ironically I am quite fond of some brutalist buildings. They can be quite pleasant. But if any of those count as brutalist, they are far too 'cold' for my taste. Again, that would not be a problem if it wasn't all of architecture striving for that same 'cold' aesthetic.

Well, there were a good few hundred years of classicism, and then a good few hundred years of gothic architecture, and then another hundred or so of baroque and so on. It's not that uncommon for whole periods to be dominated by a single architectural style.

I am with you in bemoaning the fact that there are so few art deco and art nouveau buildings, though - those styles passed by far too quickly.


What's more depressing is the examples you point out could be located in literally any large city in the entire world, such is the utter banality and dislocation of the modernist aesthetic.

Having them covered with graffiti would actually be an improvement in this respect.

In recent years I've noticed an acute shift to brutalism, minimalism and a loss of individuality in all facets of life.

Is there really evidence of this? Those stylistic developments are 100+ old and have been part of everyday life for much of the last century. There's definitely been a much more recent uptick of commentary that's uncomfortably (and occasionally deliberately) close to some classic complaints about 'degenerate art'.

Well, you can thank Jony Ive for taking over the UI as well as the hardware, and rebranding the entire iOS experience in his minimalistic image.

Looks like a bunch of people went to do the same thing in OUP. They probably launched a campaign labeling the thing on the left “skeumorphism” or its equivalent.

I remember when Apple’s interfaces were iconic and user friendly. Then in iOS 7 I couldn’t figure out where the chrome ended and the webpage/document began anymore. The search bar in Google Chrome on iOS was literally a blank white space. I had to tap there to discover search.

Apple… known the world over as a UX leader for its UX guidelines since 1980s … became a follower … of Microsoft’s new mobile interface. Which was later totally discontinued by Microsoft. Well, at least Wozniak liked it.


I remember when SGI (Silicon Graphics) paid a bunch of money to rebrand to . . . drumroll . . . SGI!

The consultants must have been high-fiving each other after that one landed, it's like trading in your car only to find that the saleswoman has sold you your own car back, at a profit.

(SGI later collapsed due to "Corporate Campus Syndrome", and other companies, including Google, now occupy the wacky buildings they spent even more money on. It's kind of like a higher order of hermit crab).

A university in the UK (Portsmouth?) hired an expensive creative agency to come up with a new name. They whittled it down to three options:

* University of Portsmouth

* The University of Portsmouth

* Portsmouth University

The reason I'm not allowed in polite circles is after they present those 3 options, I'd laugh, compliment the great joke and ask them when the real presentation was going to begin.

Yeah, so a couple years back the "Technische Universität Berlin" rebranded to "Berlin Universität der Technologie" or Berlin University of Technology. Because they thought that would be more similar to e.g. MIT and the like. Of course the abbreviation then would be BUT... Thankfully it did not stick and they are back to Technical University of Berlin.

In 2006, the University of Karlsruhe rebranded (for the same reason) to Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), aping MIT.

I guess it got reverted pretty quick, the only search result for "Berlin Universität der Technologie" is your post here.

ah, and that explains why I didn't find it looking for the English either. It was "Berlin Institute of Technology"

> Because they thought that would be more similar to e.g. MIT

Why would a superficial similarly to "MIT" be any be useful?

Any potential student should be able to look past that.

Is "pee ew" a slang interjection indicating that something stinks in British English like it is in American English?

Always got to watch those acronyms. Reminds me of back in the day when Oregon State started advertising its website on billboards. www.orst.edu. [1] Nobody in their marketing department managed to see that before the rest of the world quickly started making fun of it. They quickly rebranded to www.oregonstate.edu.

[1] Yes, that's not -exactly- an acronym

Orst for Oregon State is technically an acronym:


It's not an initialism, like IBM, but it is an acronym, like Benelux.

Would that have been in the early 90s when it was a polytechnic?

Yes, I can't remember if it was actually Portsmouth or one of the other polytechnics.

Middlesex Poly went through a similar, expensive process before becoming Middlesex University

Usually a logo/rebrand change keeps the name. So no real suprise.

That said, SGI had an iconic logo of a cube formed from a single periodic pipe before. I was using SGIs daily at the time and I almost cried when they did the rebrand.

The rebrand replaced it with a contemporary (at the time, mind you) typography logo that would look outdated if the compamy still existed.

To their credit, the rebrand did include a typeface design for use with all their design, i.e. detached from the logo.

The resp. fonts would have the aforementioned issues though -- one variant was used for the logo which is kinda cheap.

But at least they had a tyepface designed and it was recognizable. That rarely happens. Commonly a rebrand will just swap the old typeface for something different but already existing.

> That said, SGI had an iconic logo of a cube formed from a single periodic pipe before.


Rebranded in 1999, according to Wikipedia. I would think the old logo looked really bad on the web at the time, with monitors being 640 × 480 at 256 colors, if you were lucky. It also would have been expensive to reproduce well on letterhead, and I wouldn’t dare think of how that looked on photocopies (often monochrome at the time)

Now, could they have stylized/simplified the old logo and keep it nice? I wouldn’t know.

they had a monochrome version of the logo... https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/SGI-indi...

> Rebranded in 1999, according to Wikipedia. I would think the old logo looked really bad on the web at the time, with monitors being 640 × 480 at 256 colors, if you were lucky.

Now this is just silly. By 1999 most web users had at least True Color displays at SVGA if not XGA. While VGA resolutions with 256 colors were a design consideration those users were not the norm.

With that said, the old SGI looked just fine even at 256 colors. The shape was distinctive and it was all grayscale so 256 color palettes had all the colors needed for the logo with little noticeable dithering. There were even good 1-bit versions that were very distinctive.

Monitors used by people who cared about SGI or did anything with graphics design we're at least 800x600. And the screens my company had at the time were all 1024x768 already (including the screen of our single SGI Iris Indigo).

As others said: a good logo is always also good in black and white.

The old SGI logo was cast in plastic as a 2.5D version on the workstations, color printed in color brochures and otherwise there was a much simplified black and white version.

TIL Google occupies SGI's former headquarters. A college professor mentioned working for SGI, so I knew they existed and had importance, but I didn't realize their business had collapsed.

The workstation market got undercut by the improving performance of intel PCs with accelerators from companies like 3D Labs. There's plenty you could criticize SGI management for, but all the unix workstation vendors ended up getting pushed out by that in the end. SGI continued on for a bit selling supercomputers, as they had some multiprocessor interconnect technology that was good for its time. But that got spun out as SGI died, and is now the Cray division of HP.

It's sad what happened to them, as in their prime they really were a category of their own.

SGI had some seriously cool tech that they could charge a premium for, then $300 3D graphics cards for PCs came out and ate their lunch (around the time that Windows NT was basically destroying the Unix workstation market).

I remember sneaking over to their cafeteria, from the Landings office park across the street (where I did stints at some startups). They didn't bother to check badges. I met up with a bunch of old cow-orkers from Apple and just kind of hemmed and hawed when they asked what group I was in. :-)

But the lessons are clear: Watch your competitors carefully, and don't build a stupid corporate campus because the gods simply hate that kind of hubris.

They were one of the contenders in the early days of the web as everyone was trying to get bigger web servers, rather than numerous commodity web servers that we have today.

They built single big machines and gave away the best swag. The leather jacket, in particular, was coveted.

Corporate Campus Syndrome?

I feel like we are going to look back at logos from this time period and wonder what was going on and why everyone ceased to enjoy nice things.

I understand why graphic design has taken this direction. Everything needs to be able to scale to the tiniest little profile icon on websites, but it doesn’t make it much better.

I also think a lot more graphic designers these days lack a more traditional art background and so you don’t see the same amount of artistic flourishes.

Add Royal Astronomical Society logo redesign to the collection: https://www.creativebloq.com/news/royal-astronomical-society...

Because every damn hipster with a custom mechanical keyboard who can install Photoshop on his Mac is now suddenly a Designer. This is beyond appalling. These people must be beaten very hard with metal poles.

The Royal Astronomical Society seems like a pretty good example of the opposite.

The old logo was, well old, very forgettable and not particularly well constructed in the first place.

The new logo presents the society as a modern scientific institution, and the logo itself is executed well. And the animation actually works, a rare example where logo animation is not gratuitous.

The new logo looks like an anime-typical eye with reflecting highlight.

That RAS logo is beautiful, stylish, intricate, and quite recognizable - especially with its clever use of telescopes as rays and of the empty spaces to remind one of celestial bodies. I have no idea why you think it's comparable to the simplistic unintelligible symbolism of the new OUP one.

It looks like a bunch of screwdrivers arranged in a circle with a random black spot for no reason. Terrible logo. As bad, if not worse, than OUPs. Beaten with metal poles is correct.

Even if you don't recognize the telescope shape, it at least clealry looks like a sun, which has obvious ties with astronomy, and the black spot is easy to understand then as the moon.

It does not look like the sun. For one the center is dark. Literally the opposite of what the sun signifies. Never seen sunrays resembling screwdrivers and half going one way and half the other either. And that is the moon? Even after knowing it was astronomial society I wouldnt have guessed it was the moon. I have never ever thought of the moon as a black spot.

Ahem, we don't "beat" our designers with metal poles anymore due to climate change.

We only use artisanal free-range wooden spatulas to deliver "corrective encouragement" in a carbon-free manner.

I assume this logo is going on the spines of books.

This means that you are taking a recognizable easy to spot image that says: 'this book is vetted and serious, trust it like you trust us', and replacing it with a logo that is less recognizable (and by my prediction won't be around in 100 years). For anyone who browses shelves this will, in fact, reduce utility.

It's a small thing, but it is worth considering.

It will look like a little butthole at the bottom of the spine of a book.

Perfect for grabbing attention

For what it's worth, my only Oxford University Press published book just has "Oxford" written on the spine, no logo.

As the saying goes: If you marry the spirit of your generation, you will be a widower in the next

> That iconic beauty and excellence was the province of rich white dudes—and can only be expanded by lowering our standards. And what a load of horseshit that is.

This feels like a stretch. And almost breaks what little interest I have here. :(

Also, why do folks always impart way more significance to logo/label than makes sense? I can get the desire to want to change. That is natural. The idea that all changes matter is silly, though. Especially to the degree this one will be talked about. Probably less vitriol and energy is put into the literal buildings of the institute.

> Also, why do folks always impart way more significance to logo/label than makes sense?

I'm not sure we can imply importance from the volume of communication; perhaps the opposite. After colors and names, logos/icons are probably the third easiest thing to bikeshed.

Fair. I just also view it as one of the easiest things to just accept and move on from. Especially since it would be relatively easy to just change again later.

In fact, I would fully support any organization I'm in having a change most every year. I do appreciate the connection to the past and something old that many get from it. That said, it is easy to metaphorically make that connection by acknowledging what came before. The control and autonomy that you give to the next generations feels way more important.

If you are a dev, than you probably miss the extend of in which branding can have an effect. Sure, from some practical viewpoint nothing changes. But consider a logo part of a language, a culture, a visual statement. In design, it’s what we do

In this case Oxford Press changed an iconic statement with a stupid generic say-nothing that could be a tire or a bagel company.

Think of it like a banner of an army. You don’t want stand behind a banner that says “I am with stupid”

It’s hard to convey to non design folk, but design does have an impact, even if it doesn’t bring world peace, it’s culturally significant.

I mean, I get it. In that you can tell me and I can feel a little swayed by your argument.

What I don't get, is the odd idea that there is a universal iconography that every should agree with. For one, I don't find this rebranding that much worse than the old one. I actually assumed both icons on the first tweet were the new thing, as I easily think both are kind of bleh.

Finally, though, some nitpicks. Military banners are incredibly silly looking. Flags? The same. Usually with much simpler aesthetics that rely more on overall color than they do any iconography.

And saying it "could be a tire or a bagel company" is also idiotically offensive. What is wrong with tire and bagel companies? This betrays a sense of class belief that is hilarious when juxtaposed with many of the criticisms given. (Specifically, the old class having the better icon.)

I get while you think it’s offensive, but that’s not intentional. It’s more that if you hold your hand on the words and you see only the circle logo you get different ideas of what this brand might be.

Pretty sure a lot of people would answer “tyre company” or “gear manufacturer” or something. So it does not communicate well.

About the banner nitpick, banners needed to be seen from afar, during chaotic scenes, so were often quite easy to distinguish from afar :)

I challenge this assertion. For one, I bet most folks have no clue what standard tire branding looks like. Indeed, https://www.carlogos.org/tire-brands/ shows that most of them do /not/ have circles on them.

For bagels, I think you have a slightly better argument, but even then, https://99designs.com/inspiration/logos/bagel doesn't really look like what is on display here.

My nitpick on the banners was more that the iconography of them was not at all key in folks building an identity with them. I should have expanded and said it wasn't the banner that builds the identity. Rather, it is more likely the shared identity that builds the love of the banner.

> If you are a dev, than you probably miss the extend of in which branding can have an effect

I think the inverse is true: being in visual design means branding matters to you. Just as audio engineers wince at imperfections that no one else even hears.

And even that is probably more measurable than this; the people that came up with the new one are also "in design". Now you might say to that that it's different, because they were getting paid. But everyone in design is getting paid for design, so it's unsurprising they'd want to all talk about how important design is. But if you can only convince other designers, then that's a bit telling.

I mean, I like good product design as much as the next person. But it's extremely easy to overstate its importance.

I really can’t comment on the designers idea, but it really depends on the agency and the workflow.

Sometimes you have these crazy stages in the design process where the client choses the design by committee, and you get the blandest dullest compromise of them all. This looks a bit like that. This logo certainly feels like that.

There are a lot of schools in design, but it doesn’t mean there are no criteria. It really depends on who made this, how it was made and so on.

I feel design really fits into our and any culture. Think of iconic designs like coca cola, or nike, or apple. Also everything you own is probably designed at some point. Yeah maybe it’s not “world peace” significant, but culturally it is, it’s a social phenomenon.

Oh good, now they're easily visually distinguished from Raytheon [1], Frost Bank [2], and the other turbofan logo companies.

[1] https://www.rtx.com/

[2] https://www.frostbank.com/

A further entry in the turbofan logo category: https://www.hertie.de/

I had completely forgotten about that logo. Shows how old the turbofan motif is really.


An unpopular opinion: there are too many other logos that look like the original logo. Some amalgamation of Latin words and a coat of arms. It's also pretty unattractive visually (weird thickness exterior curves, all caps words with hyphens).

First impression of the new logo: boring. Second impression: nice play on an open book and capital O, very clean lines, will look good in print (perhaps with some light gradient/shading). The new typeface reads very well.

The new logo is borderline painfully boring, this trend is going to end in there being one logo for everything, and that logo will be a single circle. Clean, minimal, elegant, and capable of instantly putting anyone who sees it to sleep.

It’s pretty amusing that this is on the front page at the same time as the below.


That's were we started: all logos were coats of arms. And then all logos were something else. These are design trends.

That’s not true. While there have been fads in the past that some logos adhered to, the history of insignia is overflowing with what we would today call logos that were not coats of arms.

Every epoch in the insignia design had a distinct style, right? Roman military insignia looked like Roman military insignia, there wasn't a vast range of styles within that use case / time period.

Outside of military use and maybe some rare other state uses, there wasn't much insignia, and especially not much insignia that you would call a logo by today's application.

Of course there was, especially in Roman times when most couldn’t read. The gods all had their symbols, as did the many vendors. Many cities had emblems they added to things like gates, walls, and money, and prominent families had seals they would use for official documents as well as decoration.

These came in many styles and had a lovely variety which sprang from the message the person wanted to send and what they thought looked cool.

> An unpopular opinion: there are too many other logos that look like the original logo

There are also too many logos that look like the new logo. The first blue circle logos that spring to mind are Blue Circle Cement/Tarmac/Lafarge [1] and Oxford Nanopore [2].

(The generic sans-serif font is also visually similar to many logos)

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarmac_(company)

[2]: https://nanoporetech.com/

I am not saying the new logo is amazingly unique. I am saying that the cries about the individuality and character of the old logo are overblown. It's a pretty generic coat of arms.

> An unpopular opinion: there are too many other logos that look like the original logo. Some amalgamation of Latin words and a coat of arms.

The issue is not that it’s unpopular. That’s the actual University of Oxford coat of arms. The thing is 600 years old.

Should it be changed because every institution which wants to look somewhat respectable is copying Oxford?

I love old books (first pressings, especially signed). There is a lot of character to them. Holding a century old book is a very satisfying experience, you get to own something very authentic, a piece of a bygone era.

However, I don't see a problem with people, artists, businesses, places updating their individual branding. To me it's a sign of a refreshed outlook, a new way to both see oneself and to present oneself to others. Clinging to the past because it's (a priori) old is not the right motivation.

I imagine the new logo looks more appropriate on a book about computer science or theoretical physics.

a coat of arms is meant to identify someone or something. The new logo does not identify anything to me and reminds me of the James Bond intro gun barrel sequence.

Raytheon is another example.

I think the open book metaphor gets lost in the aggressive roundness of the O. When I first looked at it, I thought why would they make it look like a turbo fan…? Now in the case of Raytheon, a turbofan makes complete sense.

Hindered by this bias, it took me a bit to arrive at the open book representation, and was only able to do that because it’s OUP.


I like the stairs feel to the new logo, which I think fits with a University Press's mission rather nicely.

It's interesting to see the discussion unfold.

I used to do a lot of logo design, some for the replacement of time-honored logos even. Spicy jobs those were, both on pro and con sides!

One thing I learned was that new, individual, and fresh leadership psychology often brings new logos into being. Differentials in psychology can't help but expose new perspectives on organizational concepts. And that's what a logo is, a conceptual organization pointing to a new or updated organizational concept! :-)

Some of those fresh perspectives are normal elsewhere, but have been ignored in a given organization for so long that they seem prophetic when a leader considers them. And so sometimes even the doomed new logos I saw developed were like prophets sent from on high. They might not have been well-loved, they might not have lasted 5 years, but they meant something, and it was often a big something.

In my experience, when the new Director of Whatever deemed that the amazing old woodcut logo had to go, it wasn't usually that this individual hated history and tradition. It was their expression of an obvious need for a new concept.

To the outside world, the need for radical change is not always as obvious as it is to even just a small set of insiders, people who have developed what you might call "woodcut PTSD," along with some damn good ideas for how the org needs to change, and soon.

So, to me--no opinion on the graphical look, since it's often a red herring in a bunch of ways. But some big "!" interest in the individuals and perspectives behind the scenes, due to the nature of the change.

(Also, seeing people redesigning the new logo to much applause is kind of a cringe. Again a big risk here is that they are unwittingly reconnecting a really unhealthy feedback loop, based on assumptions from an outsider's perspective/demand on the organization.)

Let’s follow your hint. The CEO of OUP is trying [https://www.thebookseller.com/news/oup-rebrands-it-becomes-d...] to effect a transformation to digital distribution and digital “tools and resources” which I assume means going beyond digital versions of books and journals.

So yeah, the coat-of-arms/bookplate format of the old logo is not where he’s headed.

Absent from the OP is consideration of the new logo on its own terms. I get an O for Oxford, the turning pages, and hint of a Möbius strip. It works for me.

On the other hand, the translation of the Latin on the old motto is “the Lord is my light,” paired with the crowns invoking royal fiat. Traditional, yes, but…

Another signal in the new logo may be a declaration of independence from the University of Oxford itself, because the old logo was just the University’s coat of arms.

Sometimes it's just some new big dog pissing on a tree.

[I worked at Pentagram for a while, though not on branding. I have seen plenty of vanity projects from big CEOs.]

You worked at Pentagram! That was kind of my dream employer for a few years. I'd be super interested to know your role if you can talk about it.

> One thing I learned was that new, individual, and fresh leadership psychology often brings new logos into being

Could it be that new leaders feel they have to demonstrate they're in change, and initiating a logo replacement is unfortunately much easier than doing something that is genuinely positive for stakeholders and shareholders?

You mean you think that's the main reason for any given logo change, or one of many possible reasons?

While not outside of the realm of possibility, it's actually rare to see that kind of thought process play out in practice of working with businesses & NPOs on their logos.

Much more common is that there is a base of support for change from above, outside, and below.

Maybe related to the fact that "I changed our logo to suit myself" isn't broadly seen as a masterstroke in objective leadership practice.

> there is a base of support for change from above, outside, and below

I'm sorry, I have no idea what that statement actually means.

How do you quantify "a base support for change"? Would you ask staff if they'd prefer a pay rise ... or for that money to be spent on a new logo? Would you ask customers if they're prefer improved products ... or a new logo?

There is a reason I wrote "initiating a logo replacement". If a new-in-the-job boss pitches up in a meeting and announces "I think our logo is old. I think we need a new, fresh, relevant, inclusive logo", then who do you suppose is going to tell them they're wrong? The yes-crowd of middle managers just nod and agree. And there's your logo replacement process started.

No need for data, no need for any actual reasons to do something, just someone new in the neighbourhood marking their patch, like a dog at a lamppost.

I don't like it as it seems to remind me of the James Bond intro. But it seems most (or at least a large fraction) of people don't really like rebrands. So it probably doesn't really matter (unless unreasonable amount of money was spent on rebranding).

Even then it still doesn't matter. Anyone who spends an unreasonable amount of money on rebranding probably has a far more unreasonable amount of money remaining afterwards.

In this case I kinda care if too much money was spent on rebranding, because OUP publishes science books and journals, so I don't really want pay extra of page charges for that...

My interpreter is that they lack any good ideas for real change.

It feels underwhelming to me, but unfathomably bad? This writer seems to fathom it quite extensively.

This is a bit hyperbolic.

It's really not that bad of a rebrand. Brands are important. People care about them. They need to be updated with the times. Perhaps the author would care to show some alternative modernizations to illustrate a better way to do it.

The author says nothing about why the new logo is bad and the old one good. Frankly, objectively speaking, the new logo is much better from a design perspective whether the author likes it or not. A logo needs to be original, readily identifiable, and easily reproducible on any substrate. The old logo does not meet any of these standards, while the new logo does. The same can be said for the old Met logo. The newer Met logo is unmistakable and more easily reproduced anywhere. Author is obviously not a graphic designer or at least not one that was educated in design principles.

>Frankly, objectively speaking, the new logo is much better from a design perspective whether the author likes it or not.

Disagree fam, I think you drank too much of the kool-aid. A logo ought to above all communicate about the brand and now I'm gonna mix up OUP with Apeture Science.

My point is not that you're wrong, but rather that design is firmly in the land of opinion and your staunch 'objectivity' is bankrupt. I hope you didn't pay anyone to acquire that opinion.

> Disagree fam, I think you drank too much of the kool-aid.

Your comment begins with a fallacious statement, which is an ad hominem.

> A logo ought to above all communicate about the brand

It's a 3D scroll stylized as an "O," which obviously stands for "Oxford." Help any?

> and now I'm gonna mix up OUP with Apeture [sic] Science.

The Aperture Science logo is a stylized flat aperture. The OUP logo is a 3D scroll. Hope that helps.

> My point is not that you're wrong,

That's wise, because I am not.

> but rather that design is firmly in the land of opinion

On the contrary, graphic design is an academic discipline based on fundamental principles that ultimately are rooted in mathematics. Without any background or education, what you've done is assume you know things about design which you do not. Please consider Wittgenstein's advice: "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

> and your staunch 'objectivity' is bankrupt.

You've closed your comment with a fallacious statement, which is a straw man.

> They need to be updated with the times.


The implicit assumption here is that modernisation was required or inevitable which isn't obvious.

Implicit? It is explicitly stated. Brand are a big part of marketing your product to your customers. Brands need to be kept up to date because the styles and tastes of your customers change. Things get old. New display/printing technologies enable and require new design patterns. Your customers start to expect different things over time. People stop noticing your brand if it feels like you aren’t keeping up with the last 20 years of fashion. You need to move constantly just to stay the same point.

I am trying to to think of a single rebrand / new logo / new icon that I actually liked at the time—that didn't seem to signal a degradation in the integrity, quality or trustworthiness of the entity represented.

(There are some cases where the new brand has grown on me, to the point that I have come to prefer it to the old one. The most recent examples I can think of are the 1999 rebrand of Northern Electric as Nortel Networks—I do still love that globemark!—and the 2015 sans-serif Google logo which has become so ubiquitous as to make the previous serif version look weirdly quaint. But I liked neither of those at the time they were unveiled.)

Am I just a stick in the mud? Can you point out some rebrands that have been so wildly popular that I might begrudgingly admit that I actually liked them?

The original "Federal Express" logo wasn't bad, but FEDEX rocks it hard.

Some of the old LEGO logos aren't great (this may partially be from years of consistency, however).

But most of the "best rebrand" articles you find on google are just "logo in one font became similar logo in slightly different font".

> The original "Federal Express" logo wasn't bad, but FEDEX rocks it hard.

I will give you this one, but…

> Some of the old LEGO logos aren't great…

True, but in the context of my original question, I don't think it's reasonable for me to have an opinion about rebrands that occurred before I became aware of the brand, and LEGO has been using the same logo since I got set 20 in 1977.

I _do_ vaguely recall the old Federal Express slanty logo, but I must admit I don't remember the rebrand _as such_, so I'm not sure how much I can count this one. But yes: a good example of a definite win as far as rebrands go.

I suspect that some sports teams have "rebranded successfully", especially given how silly some of the 80s baseball uniforms look now.

My favorite part of the FedEx logo is the arrow.

I'm trying to think of a rebrand that I truly hated and that led to actual decline in something. I... can't.

There are plenty that I confess I don't like. But I would be struggling to put any actual significance to a label. The new street fighter one, as an example. I agree that it feels off that they are ditching the styling that they have used for literal decades. That said, I fail to see how that is at all important to the success/failure of the game they are building.

The MIT Press had an amusing amount of thought that went into their logo. But... I would wager the vast majority of folks just don't see it.

Reminds me of that parody pepsi logo document. (At least, I think it was a parody?)

> I'm trying to think of a rebrand that I truly hated and that led to actual decline in something.

I'm not claiming that a bad rebrand spells doom for the entity (though I guess there are probably examples of that)—only that I can think of few rebrands where the new brand _made me more positively disposed towards the entity in question_.

And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one; consider this list of brand U-turns: https://www.yourprojector.com/rebranding-u-turns/

The last one is particularly hilarious, because I attended the University of Waterloo in the late 1990s when they rebranded from a crest even older than the one shown as "original". In fact, that older crest looked just like the "final" crest. I'm glad they've finally brought it back; pity it took more than a decade to rectify the error.

> Reminds me of that parody pepsi logo document. (At least, I think it was a parody?)

No, I'm pretty sure that was actually real. At least if it was a parody, even CBS fell for it: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pepsis-nonsensical-logo-redesig...

Coca Cola is the classic example for this sort of thing. However, I feel that something is off on that story. For one, the brand has moved on from the "classic" with basically no fanfare. Similarly, they have marched on from the recipe, again with no fanfare. I remember a case study once that showed that they actually did taste test the changes and that, at large, the change was the one that was liked by more people. However, the narrative got out of their control and the perception was that the old way was better. So, they cashed in on that and basically used the event as a way to re-establish their brand. Very odd story.

Would be interesting to see what the others are like. The GAP is an odd one, to me. As they, notably, don't have branding on their clothes. At least, not universally? (Do I just not see it on the ones I'm checking?)

I own quite a lot of GAP clothing—mostly trousers bought second-hand on eBay since they stopped carrying the design I liked—and none of what I have had has ever had a logo other than on the label.

As far as I know it was real, but Lemon Demon's take on it is some classic parody. https://youtu.be/fu3ETgAvQrw

Ooh, I'll give it a shot!

Burger King: https://jkrglobal.com/case-studies/burger-king/ Simple, but fun. Retro, instead of over modern. Better than the logo is all the supporting fonts and imagery. Super aesthetic.

InstaCart: https://www.wolffolins.com/case-study/instacart Pretty recent, tech company, not a beloved brand at the time of rebrand, but wow it's a great rebrand. Way more character, way more fun.

Leibniz: https://auge-design.com/work/leibniz-design-relaunch/ Subtle changes, embraces the character, modernizes the packaging, makes a consistent design system. Maybe not what you're looking for, but still a cool example of new design done well and embraced.

New York State Parks: https://id29.com/our-work/new-york-state-parks Clean and happy.

CNET: https://www.wearecollins.com/work/cnet/ Big name, awesome rebrand. Tons of character, no one misses the old logo or vibe.

Midi: https://www.pentagram.com/work/midi/story Really interesting supporting logos and graphics. Maybe a little too heavily minimalist, but man that's a cool idea to have a dynamic icon for your logo!

Mojang: https://www.boldscandinavia.com/work/mojang-studios/ Tons of fun, reflective of blocks and pixels.

DK: https://www.pentagram.com/work/dk Good example of modernization without losing character.

These are some bigger names, but honestly the really interesting stuff is inside smaller companies who don't have to worry so much about legacy. There's some beautiful, character filled work out there.

> Burger King

I like this one. Not spotted the new logo in the UK yet, but it would definitely make me less determined to avoid the company's restaurants.

> InstaCart

I'm not really familiar with this company so I don't really have any feelings about the rebrand per se. I do like the new logo, which is clever—but after looking up what it used to look like I can say I prefer the aesthetics of the original.

> Leibniz

Again a brand I'm not familiar with. Fair point about the consistent design system, but again I prefer the original logo.

> New York State Parks.

Again not one I'm familiar with, but here I can say I LOVE the new logo: who can not love it when an organisation makes it so obvious they wish they were Canadian?


This one I definitely was familiar with. Hadn't seen the new branding. My reaction is "looks weird; those letters make me feel uncomfortable".

> Midi

WTF. The new logo is cool in and of itself, but this rebranding makes me actively angry:

- The MIDI logo has been used as a symbol to identify connectors for decades. Changing it will cause unnecessary confusion.

- The important feature of MIDI is that it is _digital_, but the new logo is all about _analog_ waveforms.

- It's also stupidly confusing. Literally the first thought that passed through my mind when I saw the new logo is "did the MIDI organisation get bought by Meta??"

> Mojang

I'll give you this one. The new logo is pretty bad, but the original was _awful_.

> DK

I am literally* crying. (* not literally).

> These are some bigger names, but honestly the really interesting stuff is inside smaller companies who don't have to worry so much about legacy.

I think this raises an important point. Smaller companies without much history do not destroy much when they throw their old branding away. Bigger, older companies do.

I actually liked the Windows rebrand with Windows 8. It’s simpler, cleaner, still recognizable, works as mono or dual tone, and actually looks like the namesake of the product.

Most previous versions were complicated messes. Windows 7 was I think the best version of the four color version.

The transition from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 is the greatest leap in the Windows product line for me (including design).

I remember seeing the '95 start-up screen and its new UI for the first time - I was quite amazed by how much better it looked (I was at an impressionable age back then).

The Windows 95 logo always felt unsettling to me. At least part of it is because the main part of the logo curves downwards in a sad/frowning sort of way.

The Windows XP logo was a massive improvement.

Agreed, but I’m just talking about the logo. The Windows 95 logo was pretty bad as far as logos are concerned.

Apple losing the rainbow from its logo?


This is the ultimate example of a _terrible_ rebrand, in my opinion. I _loved_ the colourful logo, and I think that getting rid of it was the ultimate travesty. (At least the flat black Apple is better than those terrible shiny ones, though.)

I do wonder if I'd have liked it if I'd previously been familiar with the original woodcut logo, though.

Interesting. The rainbow logo (which I grew up with - I had (still have!) an Apple ][) has way too much of an Atari 2600 breakout vibe to me today. I find it looks really dated.


>Am I just a stick in the mud?

Yes. But it's normal. People who weren't involved in the project, or don't know design, very commonly have strong negative reactions to a company they know rebranding. I don't know why.

Come next year you'll have either completely forgotten about this, or have no opinion at all.

> Come next year you'll have either completely forgotten about this, or have no opinion at all.

I doubt it. There are still so many rebrands / logo changes that I get angry thinking about. Off the top of my head (in addition to the ones mentioned in my replies to other comments in this thread):

- Meta. It just confirmed what I already knew but had been desperately denying: Facebook is dead.

- The new, nearly indistinguishable multi-coloured Google Apps icons. (Were _no_ UX researchers involved in this decision?)

- Apple imposing the squirkle on macOS icons. (My laptop is not a tablet!)

- Google imposing the white circle on Android app icons. (Phone icons were already small enough before they were shrunk so as to fit into the stupid circles!)

- The new Slack logo.

- Instagram ditching their original camera logo/icon for that god-awful squirkly gradient monstrosity. (The day I saw that was the day I knew I would _never_ install their app on my phone.)

- American Airlines dropping their previous Vignelli-designed logo (and Helvetica).

- The London 2012 Olympics logo (the pink monstrosity described as "Lisa Simpson giving Bart a blow job") that replacing the London 2012 bid logo (with ribbons in the Olympics colours forming the shape of the river Thames).

That goes back at least 15 years. I have a long memory and hold grudges, at least when it comes to awful rebrandings.

(I don't know about wildly popular, but) I remember linking the older UPS logo (with the string-tied box on top, designed by Paul Rand, who also made the IBM and NeXT logos, and lots more), and thought the new logo was sort of dumb, but now I appreciate its simplicity.


(interesting to me: the 1937 logo used a san-serif font)

The Amazon "smile" logo is pretty good.

This is _definitely_ a _brilliant_ rebrand, at least in hindsight: I'm not sure I loved it at the time, and seem to recall finding the asymmetry and curviness of the arrowhead slightly disturbing.

A logo change, like mergers, divestments, and reorgs, are one of the few things where the C-suite can feel important. It gives them something to do, issue a press release about, and give interviews to the BBC.

Unlike those other things, it's hard to prove it was a mistake. Maybe over time, sales fall off and prestigious authors migrate to other publishers, but if you approved the new logo, you can find a hundred other things to blame for that.

As far as rebrand is concerned, this one is actually good.

The new icon is clever. I think they could've kept the serif font. The new type isn't doing it for me.

The Met museum logo is brilliant. I've been going to that museum for 30 years, so there was emotional attachment to the old one. I like them both.

While I don't think it's as big of a crime as this article makes it out to be (and I personally prefer the look of sans-serif fonts), I still don't see what's "clever" about the logo - it seems like a generic O with an unpleasant proportion of full vs striped portions. The striped portion can be take to look sort of like the pages of a book being flipped, but only if you know the context - otherwise the first thought would be tire marks or perhaps a keyboard.

"The striped portion can be take to look sort of like the pages of a book being flipped, but only if you know the context - otherwise the first thought would be tire marks or perhaps a keyboard."

I could be reading into the logo, but I think it's clever because the logo could be interpreted many different ways:

1. "O" for Oxford. 2. The striped portion is paper flipping, as you pointed out. 3. The round O evokes old mechanical paper press / publishing machine, machines, so it has connection to the word "Press" in the Oxford University Press. The stripes also create movement / motion.

Some local sports teams have tried sort of minimalist new logos and jerseys.

They end up looking like generic jerseys you get from some small town screen printer for your rec league. After every other team already made their choice….

I don’t understand the desire to drain all the character out of things.

My cynical side says these are just resume fodder for executives/ comities.

Another ring logo. Its hilarious how many low effort logos, with a ring, graphic designers fool people into accepting.

To be fair, "Oxford" begins with "O", and, as far as contemporary/flat ring logos go, this is one of the better examples I've seen. It is an attractive logo, even if the ethos of the previous logo is lost.

Personally, I find it deeply unattractive, especially because of the way the solid part breaks at the top to leave room for the bizarre striped part of the O (whereas in the lower part, it looks much better, giving both some sense of perspective and a beautiful continuous shape).

It reminds me of the Burrs from my Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder:


Also a ring == a circle, and organizations are looking to circular-philosophy holistic changes as a broad change since roughly the start of the century.

Circles are _the_ graphical element/symbol of holistic energy with few others coming close.

Generally when I see a move to a circular logo in a new design brief it's a sign that the organization perceives that it must quickly heal from damage/protect itself from danger and put some aspects of the past behind. It is usually attempting to build capacity for a new direction as well. IMO this is usually not a fully conscious decision by the team.

"This is the world we live in"

That honestly all sounds like mumbo jumbo.

That it sounds like mumbo jumbo is no surprise at all and kinda normal given the circumstances.

First, tech communities are not exactly known for deep visual design-theory interest or background (for example, what's your personal experience level with logo design? This would inform both a tendency to radically re-summarize using the word "just", and a tendency to relate the description in nonsensical terms; it's a matter of education depth).

Also, I used to lecture college students on this stuff at length, so it's kind of plain ol' design thinking to me, from theory/psychology to application.

And then, a lot of people also call tech talk mumbo jumbo. For related reasons I don't really feel the need to justify or bring it down to earth any more than I'd try to do that with the Linux kernel in a random "kernel? sounds like mumbo jumbo" discussion.

But as always, in the right context the theory-practice connection provides leverage that can't be had elsewhere.

PS there are some absolutely great examples of this thinking if you are willing to empty the cup and explore the foundations. See the "In popular culture" section here as one possible point of departure:


Not worse then the TFA. IMO the other side of the arguing is easier: instead of the merits of the new logo, we can agree that the old logo is just not compatible with something that is modern or inclusive, and it had to go.

> we can agree that the old logo is just not compatible with something that is modern or inclusive, and it had to go.

No we can't agree on that. What you say is nonsense.

Yes, it is nonsense indeed.

What about: if they want to signal modernness and inclusiveness (regardless whether they actually want to be modern and inclusive) they had to get rid of the logo?

What's TFA?

The featured/fine/fantastic article. See for usages https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que... (I believe it lost its original meaning, and now it refers to the article in a neutral style)

Explained here in more depth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTFM

That's the main problem in my mind... another ring. The article even mentions that the look is rather similar to at least three others. The most obvious being the Obama campaign logo.

I can sort of see why they'd want to move away from the old logo, it hard to reproduce in various sizes, honestly not that unique either, it looks like any other very old logo and you'd have to know that it's Oxford University Press to recognize the logo.

The new one share the last problem: You need to know that it's the OUP ring logo and not one of the other 100 logos that looks just like it.

What I find to be an issue with many modern logos is that I don't see how they are expected to age. It seems more likely that they'll tossed aside completely in 10 to 20 years, for yet another redesign.

It's amazing how people without any understanding of design processes judge outcomes as "low effort".

Familiarize yourself with these processes (e.g. check out IDEO). Talk to professional designers. Try to design a logo.

It's frankly ridiculous to expect a revolutionary logo every time these discussions happen. This is not a "lines of code" metric. If designers work on a logo for 6 months the deliverable is not "the biggest logo you have ever seen". It can be a squiggle.

Oh how full of yourself you are.

I think it may be intended to be a Möbius strip. Still agree with you.

Wow. I own a number of Oxford university press books. I always really liked the old logo. Very distinguished. The new logo really does look stupid.

There's some fine (not great, just ... acceptable) ideas in the new logo, but it's pretty sloppy for an institution of this stature. A few things I could point to that are probably subjective, but objectively the kerning desperately needs attention.

The kerning doesn't look terrible to me. The exception that stands out is the whitespace between the OX and XF pairs, which is optically a bit unbalanced.

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