VH1 is kicking off the new year with a much needed update to their logo, stripping the colors away from its former 10-year-old mark and replacing it with a modern monochrome icon.
Designed by New York-based graphic design firm Gretel and announced on VH1’s Blog and the channel’s social media outlets, the new logo incorporates a plus sign to correspond with a new #plussed Twitter hashtag and advertising campaign.
“Ten years ago, no one had ever heard of Justin Bieber, Mark Zuckerberg just entered Harvard, iPhones were five years away and hashtags didn’t exist,” VH1 President Tom Calderone says as reported by Mashable.com. “Our world has clearly changed, so we want to reflect those cultural and technological changes in each of the many ways that consumers now touch the VH1 brand.”
In true form, the graphic design community has weighed in on the topic (as is typical when corporate brands revamp their branding and/or logo) to critique the effectiveness of the brand makeover.
Design blog, The Fox is Black, gave props to VH1’s new look, pointing out the clean, well structured new look with bold letterforms and purple color, stating “from a purely aesthetic point of view, it’s definitely an upgrade.”
However, the blog was quick to point out its lack of enthusiasm for the “plus” design concept.
“I get it, you’re combining all the best things. So it’s awesome + vintage + magic + whatever. Or it’s +1. No matter which way you interpret it, it’s kind of a dated concept,” states The Fox is Black.
Naturally, as a television channel’s corporate branding, the logo needs to work both in print and via motion graphics through animated spots. Again, The Fox is Black writer points to inconsistent messaging across various advertisements, stating:
“Then there’s the on-air usage of the logo. In the first video below you see some more classic sort of uses of the logo, things that feel familiar to the brand. But then in the second video it’s a whole lot of cheesy plus sign dancing and whatever. Not my cup of tea.”
(Check out the two videos below and tweet us your thoughts!)
Graphic designer Armin Vit of leading graphic design blog Brand New is always quick to critique new brand logos, and VH1’s new look is no exception. He bids “good riddance” to the old logo, calling it “one of my most despised of all time and although in execution on-air it was more or less salvaged by clever animation, the underlying structure was always bunk.”
“The new logo is… interesting. I like that it references the very first logo in its history both visually and by re-introducing the hyphen as a plus,” writes Vit, who also provides a nice history of VH1’s many looks over time (above). Read Vit’s full design critique.
Updated January 17 FIDM Graphic Design Instructor Alex Gardos also provided his critique of VH1’s new look, pointing to an inherent problem with the ‘music’ channel’s brand identity:
“In an attempt to redefine and update their content definition and brand, VH1 has stumbled with their new logo. The original name of this media outlet: Video Hits 1 has traveled far from its original purpose as the step child of Viacom’s MTV. No longer can one find many ‘video hits’ in its programming lineup. So, it does what most media entities do. It has attempted to adapt,” says Gardos. “But the attempt has fallen short. They cling on to the old form like a shipwrecked passenger on the cable sea, morphing the ‘H’ into an amorphous hybrid of an H and a plus sign. The plus sign is a good idea given the rationale of how it communicates their current content, but they need to make more of an aesthetic ‘break’. V+1 is a more concise and clearer communicator without the H legacy. Still ‘video,’ plus some other stuff.”
Gardos also pointed to to the challenges that modern day brands face in the midst of a logo design and brand identity facelift.
“The public’s awareness and sensitivity to branding has increased exponentially with its exposure to the power of visual imagery and marketing,” he says.
Pointing to examples like the highly public ridicule of The University of California’s introduction to a new monogram (a sister mark to its traditional seal) which was quickly repealed; and USA Today’s new blue logo update, which became the target of comedic ridicule for Stephen Colbert.
“The attempt to ‘rebrand’ can be a slippery slope and should not be taken lightly,” says Gardos. “Organizations must carefully consider the value of their current visual identities before making the bold step to re-brand and run the risk of becoming market pariahs… think before you brand.”
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Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mo’email@example.com