Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Christmas comes twice

Corporate America has blessed us with the launch of not one, but two major new logos in recent months. First, upon the launch of the merger between AT&T and SBC in November, (a.k.a. "The New AT&T") we were awarded with a slightly different blue globe and some lowercase text:

Now, this month Intel has given us some futuristic type, an open ellipse, and a demand that we "leap ahead":

Let's look at what these companies have to say about their new coats-of-arms:


"The new globe is three-dimensional, representing the expanding breadth and depth of services that the new AT&T family of companies provides to customers, as well as its global presence."

"Transparency was added to the globe to represent clarity and vision."

"Lowercase type is now used for the "AT&T" characters because it projects a more welcoming and accessible image."


"The new brand identity involves changes to the widely recognized Intel Inside® logo that was created in 1991, and the original Intel “dropped-e” logo, which was created by Silicon Valley pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore 37 years ago as they were forming their new “integrated electronics” company. Intel’s new logo combines the essence of both of these powerful symbols, building on Intel’s rich heritage, yet also signaling the new direction the company is headed today."

"It also includes a new tagline: “Intel. Leap ahead™.” This tagline is Intel’s unique brand promise and is designed to communicate what drives Intel as a company, and what Intel makes possible."

But I didn't need to tell you this, since I'm sure "transparency = clarity & vision" was the first thing that came to mind when you saw the AT&T logo, and you said "This makes me feel like Intel has a unique brand promise," as soon as you saw the other logo.

I like how the AT&T employees were invited to a "launch party" for the new corporate identity. Looks like it was quite the time. I hope they got to keep the nifty flags.

I've never been a part of a large corporation, so I don't know how it feels. Do people get into the corporate-speak and feel their company loyalty in their bones? Are the words of the PR types rooted in a passionate belief in the company, or is saying them just a job? Do midlevel drones feel like they are a part of the "AT&T family" or do they just clap at logo-launch events out of politeness? To what extent is the corporate language, which so often reads like parody, internalized by the employees? Are they passionate about something larger than their friends at work and what they do--are they passionate about the corporate entity itself?

Or is Office Space more accurate?

It always seems funny to me when stodgy and unromantic organizations talk about spiritual concepts like a "shared vision" and "virtues." It's as if the corporations are religions with their own ten commandments.

Gee, I hope I don't sound like too much of a Naomi Klein wannabe here (full disclosure: I haven't read No Logo).

The sillyness of attempts of PR types to explicate their symbolism in text aside, logos can of course be powerful things and can evoke an unconcious sense of an organization's vibe. My all time favorite logo is the biohazard symbol:

It's such an amazing symbol in that it conveys so well without words that whatever that sign is marking is something really, really bad. I remember being afraid upon seeing the symbol as a kid. I've wondered if this has something to do with the resemblence between the curves along the outside and pincers. I wonder how universal the understanding of this sign as bad is, and how that understanding will vary across time.

Awhile ago there was a write up somewhere of a competition to design a symbol to convey to future generations that the proposed nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain was a place of danger. They wanted something that would last 10,000 years--longer than any of our languages can be guarantee to last. How do you convey without words the idea of danger to the people of the future? It's a hard problem.


At 10:25 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

how about a face with x's for eyes and a tongue hanging out

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

After I read your blog, I heard a newscast about Walgreens getting an additional logo. Walgreen's aim is to have a huge recognizable from the distance logo like McDonald's arches. And then I picked up a magazine and ran across this article about how some couples create logo's for their wedding. It seems that everybody's mind is on logo's. John, you have your finger on the pulse of the hottest trends! ;)

At 11:13 PM, Blogger epugachev said...

Hmm. But I already feel like I could recognize Walgreens' logo from a distance. Living in Chicago one does get used to them.

At 11:14 PM, Blogger epugachev said...

Anyway, though, how do you know that Mr. Yuck won't be revered as a God in the future?


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