In a simpler time, design wasn't harsher than a mixed-martial arts event. In the olden days, say three years ago, companies would order their new logos and new-and-improved packaging from their design fortresses on high, and the lowly customers below would quietly accept the blobby, 3D-textured versions of once-beloved logos without complaint.
No more of course, as we've seen all too clearly in the last month with Facebook's reconsideration of its new look his week after a whopping 94% of users gave a thumbs down to the redesign, and Tropicana yanking its new packaging created by the Arnell Group after the primary customer reaction was that their grocery had introduced a generic store-brand O.J. and where was the orange with the straw in it?
Thanks to social media, everyone, from design mavens to cranky consumers, makes up an angry, torch-wielding mob ready to storm the design-firm walls demanding their old logos back. (All I know is that the designers at Wolff Olins, creators of both the infamous New York City blocky identity plastered on the city's taxis and the even more widely panned London 2012 Olympics logo, are lucky they didn't roll either of those out in today's virulent environment. Despite the haters, the anti-movements didn't actually topple the new designs the way Tropicana and Facebook's did.)
it's a new age for companies who want to put on a fresher public face: Consumers are simply not going to sit down and take those swooshy graphics being shoved in their faces anymore. But why is there so much design unrest? Is it because companies don't have the money to do audience testing anymore? Have the democratization of tools like Photoshop created too many armchair designers out there who think they can do better? Or maybe this is just a new phase of the research and development cycle, albeit an embarrassingly public one? "Launch and listen" may be the new mantra, but it's only for the hardiest souls.
So who's next to fall before the angry mob? I have three ideas, all of which are being tracked by the branding and identity site Brand New. Who do you think isn't going to make it? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.
SyFy: Sure, the logo's bad, but it's the faux-playfulness of the phonetic spelling of the former Sci-Fi Channel, which NBC Universal claims "broadens perceptions and embraces a wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment," that's downright insulting to everyone, and in particular the channels' famously rabid fans. Have they not noticed how easily angry Trekkies can mobilize? Even the founder of the channel calls it "plain dumb."
Pepsi: Arnell, the same firm who managed to make Tropicana anonymous in the refrigerated case, is also responsible for the 60s-looking logo that's being batted down by critics. Take the early insinuations that it looks too much like the Obama campaign logo (or vice versa), combine them with the scandalously pompous leaked design brief (perhaps purposely), and it looks like Pepsi is desperate for attention. A panel of ad experts assembled agreed it was sensational. We can't see all these extensions of the New New Pepsi making it (Pepsi Natural? Really?). Hell no, one of these has got to go.
Jack in the Box: A popular viral campaign that had ball-headed Jack hit by a car and in a coma for weeks gave way to a much classier new site and logo that premiered March 16. More than 80,000 eager fans posted tasteless get-well videos on the car-accident site, a community that's been cultivated by a steady diet of quirky, off-color ads. Remember, this is the company that has proudly touted its Jack sauce for years. Now it's for the Grey Poupon set? I have trouble seeing this scripty 3D effort appealing to the kind of person who posts a tasteless get-well-video to an obnoxious clown head.
Again, what do you think? Do these branding refreshes need to go? And who should join them? Let us know in the comments or at email@example.com.