Lucent Technologies logo Via Quipsologies, an interesting perspective on the advent of more and more people having opinions on logo and brand redesigns: Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport.

Redesigns such as Tropicana, UPS, and the University of California are used as examples. (Come to think of it, this isn’t all that recent a development; I was at AT&T when Lucent (RIP) was spun off, and their “Innovation Ring” logo was mocked by none other than Dilbert.)

The post gives an interesting, in-depth perspective, and is a reminder that people don’t necessarily love new designs just because they’re new and “better” according to the designers.

I was surprised by how often the civilians [non-designers] got it “wrong,” voting enthusiastically for the cartoony old version of the Comedy Central logo, the needlessly fussy and insecure pre-redesign Starbucks, the dated Clarissa Explains It All-era Nickelodeon splat. After a few hours of air-conditioned anthropological observation, a number of precepts emerged, almost all of which rang as true in my professional experience as in Building 110.

… Third, and most crucially, people prefer the thing they’re used to rather than whatever new thing you’re foisting on them.

This is unfortunately as true for software & user interfaces as it is for logos, though we can make those work better, be faster, do more, etc., in order to make it worthwhile for our users to endure the change.

I also loved this distillation of, well, of a lot of “discussion” on the Internet:

A seemingly endless series of drive-by shootings punctuated by the occasional lynch mob, conducted by anonymous people with the depth of barroom philosophers and the attention span of fruit flies.

As the saying goes: opinions are like assholes; everyone has one. When I first heard about the UC logo, I thought it looked dumb, too (though I was prejudiced by the Daring Fireball post that got me there). But there’s a lot more to it than a simple graphic that “a 4-year-old could have made”. Next time I have that reaction, I’ll remember this “Spectator Sport” post, as well as the UC logo post by Armin Vit he linked to, and think twice.

A logo doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a book trilogy and tell all its story through a circular device. A logo, actually, is nothing. It’s useless. It derives meaning from what it represents. I’ve said this before: The Nike swoosh logo is shit. It’s a clunky checkmark. People think it’s great but it’s not. It’s the amazing athletes and their stories that Nike has associated with over the decades. It’s the quality products. It’s the great ads. It’s not the logo.

… Funny story: You know what Nike founder Phil Knight said when he was presented (and proceeded to select) the swoosh logo? “I don’t love it. But it will grow on me.”