Correction at a Cost

A. Michael Shumate

A. Michael Shumate

Correction at a cost

AT&T Identity Fixed
Ten years after adopting their faulty 3-D corporate identity, and after their unsuccessful attempts to mend things by reversing the design out of solid cyan and orange, AT&T threw in the towel and had their identity reworked. Not only did they abandon the transparent globe look of the 2005 logo, they also left behind the impotent lower case at&t signature for the previous AT&T signature all in upper case. The stripes of the old logo were significantly reworked to much more esthetically pleasing shapes and now are shown in a solid cyan that has better contrast on a white background.

Here are the 2005 and 2015 AT&T logos superimposed over each other. The warmer two sets of colors are the newer shapes and the cooler two colors are the older shapes. It is hard to see the esthetics of the new shapes in this comparison, but it does show how much refinement of shapes was needed to fix the old logo.
Consider the cost of such signage and vehicle graphics. It only makes sense if the logo is based on firm principles to begin with.

United Airlines Identity Fixed
The overly intricate logo adopted by Continental airlines and inherited by United airlines after the merger of the two companies was too complex for clean reproduction. United had to simplify it.

Given the fact that as of 2019, United Airlines owns a fleet 767 huge aircraft, not to mention their hundreds of ground support vehicles, airport signage, and personnel, one can understand if they don’t redo all of that for consistency.

For our purposes, it is enough for them to attempt to correct a poor design that never should have bee adopted in the first place.

Xerox Logo Abandoned
It took Xerox eleven years to realize that there was no way to fix the problems in their 3-D logo; it just wouldn’t work. Their solution was to omit the logo from the identity altogether. The remaining signature is all lower case, but these particular letters do not evoke as much of a sense of weakness as the former at&t lower case signature.

This identity overhaul may not sound as painful as the other Famous Fails, but implementing the change to their machines and products still represents a significant financial outlay.

Conclusion
Again, these three rebrandings were not without cost, but this was not wasted money. The money spent on the previous flawed identities, designed contrary to the Core Principles, was the wasted money.

To recap, any identity that violates one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins will not work. Sooner or later the client will realize this. And who will they go to for a brand revision? If I were the CEO of such a company, I would never go back to the designers that gave me the flawed identity that now needs to be replaced.

Adapted from Logo Design Theory: How Branding Design Really Works

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