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Out with the new in with the old logo

By Matt Crow, 25 May 2016

Logo design for the times

When I saw the recent reveal of the new co-op logo by North Design in collaboration with Coop Digital at the coop AGM on Saturday I was pretty impressed. The new “clover leaf” logo looks great and I can’t wait to see the roll out. The vibrant blue gives it a real “Hey look at us!” and “You totally need this tote bag” feel, which is something that their brand definitely lacked before.

The new old Coop logo  — Totes

The new old Coop logo — Tote!

I was even more impressed to then learn that this new brand mark is an updated variant of an old logo that was originally designed back in ‘68 & dropped in ‘93. It’s a bold move by all teams involved to go through their archive and decide to refine an old logo (though it does work nicely with their “back to being co-op” campaign) – but impressively the logo still fits in today nearly 50 years after it’s creation.

With a spree of recent rebrands getting attention online – both good and bad – I headed over to twitter to take a look at the conversations that were happening around the co-ops “new old brand”.

The overall feeling on Twitter is that the coop has done good, with the new brand attracting more high scoring sentiment than bad. There is also a general applause for the decision to go back to their roots and see it through.

With all these happy conversations across twitter about the new old logo, it got me thinking about other classic brands (in my mind at least) and I wonder how they would be received if they were to be reintroduced today.

Now as I’m of a certain age and was a massive fan of light Australian soaps, the first brand that I was sad to see go was spins Channel Five logo. At the time it was up against all the numbers – even itv was followed by a 1 – and then there was five. A bold brave wordmark doing things differently just because it could. I admit the shows weren’t up-to much save my fave aussie soaps, but I bloody loved those idents and all the supporting material that came along with it.

spins five logo which ran from 2002 — 2008

spins’ five logo which ran from 2002 — 2008

Fast forward 8 years and Channel 5 have gone through 4 rebrands, none of which carry the same klout & confidence as spins’ effort back in 2002. The new logo sits somewhere between a rounded version of Channel 4 and the Aussie Channel 7 (which I guess is kind of right – 4, 5, 6, 7). If spins “five” brand was to be brought back today I think it would be great for the channel, helping separate it from the other channels. I might also return to see how Dr Karl & Sue are getting on.

Going a bit further back in time is a real classic: NASA’s “The worm”. This logo was crafted in 1974 by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn. I can only imagine the twitter storm if NASA went from “the worm” to their current “Meatball” logo today. Chaos!

The NASA “Worm” Logo from 1975 — 1992

To be fair unlike Channel Five NASA have stuck with their current logo since 1992, although there seems to be an outside movement growing that could help see it’s return. A successful kickstarter campaign recently secured $941,966 from over 8500 backers to get a hardcover book reissued of the NASA Standard Graphics Manual. Nice. My feeling is that if NASA were to go back one version to the worm, it wouldn’t look out of place at all – and if we are to go to Mars we should definitely take good design with us.

Another logo that could make a timely resurgence from the flames is David Gentleman’s British Steel logo. With all the drama around our current steel industry the government could step in to help save it, and if they do then I hope they reclaim it with the original logo and drive it forward led by design.

David Gentleman's British Steel logo 1966 — 1999

David Gentleman’s British Steel logo 1966 — 1999

These are just 3 brand logos that I love and would like to see brought back. They all contain certain similarities, and invoke certain feelings for people who connect with them. But the key thing that stands out amongst them is this: they are well designed, worked then, would work now, and would still work in the future I’m sure.

After this mini journey through brand timelines, I think I’ll start looking at our brands in a slightly different way. Will they still be used in 1 year or 5 years’ time? What about in 20 years? Change isn’t bad, but creating a change that lasts is a real find. To create a brand that works across all mediums / devices / platforms that haven’t even been created yet is a real challenge, but I feel this is something that has been achieved by the three brands mentioned in this blog. And as a designer who does this stuff day in and day out for our lovely clients, this is an exciting and daunting challenge.