So the internet’s been buzzin’ about the possibility that DC have redesigned their logo across the board. I think the story broke on BleedingCool.com. I got the news from here. As usual the reaction from fans is largely negative (having followed the design scene for a few years, I don’t remember a brand ever being released to wide acclaim. The opposite usually happens). It’s probably fair to say that the bulk of the comments on the design are mostly of the knee-jerk variety. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. First instincts can be very revealing. Being a designer specializing in brand design, this subject is of special interest to me. Let’s address some of the more common concerns expressed by fans. But first we’ll start by looking at the history of DC’s branding.
It doesn’t “say” comics.
Well that’s not entirely true I think. The visual “peeling” device does indeed suggest the turning of a page and to be fair, many of the previous logos looked more appropriate for a sports team or sports gear. Or simply looked like a postal stamp one would see on a package shipped in the mail. The most overtly comics oriented design above is the one which has Superman centered directly in the logo. And that I think, we can mostly agree is a myopic approach. So to maintain this doesn’t “say” comics isn’t really a solid argument against this design because most of DC’s logos have only “said” comics because we’ve come to associate that graphic with comics over a long period of time. Also to consider is the possibility that DCE is hoping to make a gradual move away from being associated with comics. Whose to say what the true intent is.
I think it was Paul Rand who once said (I paraphrase): “A logo shouldn’t communicate the thing it represents. A logo comes to mean the thing it represents”. To ask a logo to communicate everything about DC ,is frankly too much to ask from just one graphic. In my opinion a logo should have as its main priority, good design. If you look at the new proposed logo as just a graphic and forget what it’s associated with, then do you like it? I think I mostly do. It’s got movement but it’s subtle so it doesn’t come across as cheesy – and I can see potential for animating it on screen. For instance, a close up of this new logo at the movie theater, with “pages flipping like a graphic novel, showing dozens of flashing images from comics – sort of like what they do now – but inside the “comic” which is portrayed in the logo. Though the DC “spin” currently in use is dynamic in a static medium, it seems actually quite stiff and difficult to animate with the only apparent possibility being the spinning of the rings – which was never used.Other pros for the new logo: It works in black and white and it works on a small scale. I’m not a fan of it needing a gradient in order to work and that would be my main criticism. Also the fact that the visual device is not perfectly clear – the “D” peels back to reveal a “C” – weakens the piece a little. But still, I think overall it’s an improvement over the generic logos that have come before it.
“It looks like a toilet, maxi pad, a press-on tattoo etc”
Blame the gestalt effect, but with any lines and shapes on a picture plane, different people will see different things. I saw none of those things listed above pesonally. I saw a page being turned. I can’t really fault anyone for interpreting a visual differently than intended. That’s what happens. So, no argument there.
“It looks too corporate”
Well, the fact is DC is a corporation. Owned by an even bigger one with big plans to build big franchises and make big money. They want a logo which will be applicable everywhere in any context. Which brings up my concern of it relying on a gradient to pull off the effect. I’d like to see a version of this built from outlines only to see if the logo still works. But even there, I don’t know what the intent is with this design. Perhaps this new design is to be limited to certain media so it’s hard to say without seeing more applications if this design is successful. I’d like to see it put on t-shirts, a website, a comic book. Presentation can often change everything. When looking at it in a naked environment like this, it’s easy to draw hasty conclusions.
“It’s too generic”
To this I say, look me in the eye and tell me the other logos aren’t generic. If you’re really honest and look at the list of logos above, you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that most of those are NOT generic. So at the very least, this design has some thought put into it and has been designed with a significant amount of polish and skill.
Ultimately, I’m still not married to this design nor do I want to dump it wholesale. But if I try really hard to forget any of these logos exist in my conscious and subconscious mind, put myself in DC Entertainment’s shoes and pretend I had to choose one of these options for myself, I’d probably choose the one on the bottom.
DC doesn’t have as recognizable a brand as Marvel I think (and there’s another example of a logo that doesn’t “say” comics but is a very effective design) so it’s probably a good move to put on a brand new outfit, eschew the past and establish a new identity. The more I think on it, the more I support this design.