Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Sunday, August 20, 2017

KODAK logo - what's old is new again

Did you know Kodak was still around? I ran across an article the other day that mentioned  their logo redesign and was actually pleased to find they didn’t fold. There was a time when Kodak was synonymous with photography – think of the slogan “Kodak moment”. You didn’t need to say anything more because your audience instantly picked up on the meaning. Last time I heard about Kodak, they were filing for bankruptcy. They sold off over $500 million worth of patents and intellectual property, sold off their film and photographic units and successfully emerged from Chapter 11.

In 2006, they ditched their yellow and red logo for a simplified word only image:

kodak logo 2006

Gone was the instantly identifiable red K on yellow that could be spotted a mile away. There was never any doubt what this represented:

Kodak's logo from the 1970s

You didn't even have to read the word Kodak to know what company it was. I have to admit, I’m not fond of the bland, nondescript ’06 logo. I like the yellow/red version. It has history attached to it, generations of instant recognition. Plus it translates well into a small logo on a web page. Not all logos can do this. The new logo rolls back the design to an earlier era – one that was successful for the company and when Kodak and photography were one and the same. They’ve resurrected their classic 1970s logo that is oddly well suited to 2016.

The new/old logo is a bit different. Can you spot it?

 Kodak's redesigned logo for 2016

The Kodak slides down along the right edge using a thinner font. It feels sleeker, cleaner. What’s interesting is how such a small change altered the entire feel of the logo. The words really stand now. Not sure about you, but my eyes immediately fall onto the word and move towards the stylized K. Nice balancing act. A nice nod to their history with a clean, modern font. This is a keeper.



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A little blast from the past complete with a natty little mustache

Image of an ad from Aerial Age Weekely Magazine 1918 advertising goggles

Interesting isn’t it?  Although the basics of ads hasn’t really changed much over the decades, font styles and fashions do. Not the best laid out ad I’ve ever see. It looks a bit slapdash in the layout department. But that mustache! All you need to see is that little, stylish Poirotesque ‘stache and you feel compelled to look. The ad does scream early 20th century but in 1918, when it ran, the pilot would have been quite fashionable. Flying was still a gentleman’s obsession – it took money and time to pursue and this ad is definitely targeting gentleman pilot market.

What’s equally interesting is the font. Not sure what it is, but it pops up in Aerial Ace Weekly a fair bit during WW1. It seems to be their font de jour and it's a mess of inconsistencies.  Just the title alone seems to use 3 seperate fonts.  It’s a bit of an odd pairing in my opinion. The font is fun and erratic, the pilot is dashing and whimsical, but the product is pretty much life and death. Whimsy, cheer and a bullet to the eye – bit of a mixed message here.

As well, the advertiser squeezed far too much info into the space and it came out lopsided. It’s like the layout department lost their rulers and eyeballed everything. But somehow I suspect the reason doesn’t lay with the printers. What makes me think the ad was ready for press and the customer decided to add more details. The last paragraph looks shoe horned in … “just one more paragraph, come on, you can squeeze it in”. Nothing changes.

So, what do you think? Does it work for you? I’d like to hear opinions on this, especially about the main font.


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Pissy little rant on misconceptions about old printing styles

I’ve been chewing over a font that is getting under my skin lately. Take a look: Photo of Old Printing Press font from Font Factory

It’s Old Printing Press, created by Font Café in 2011, or as I call it Olde Printy Presse (OPP for short). I’ve used some of their fonts in the past, and like their work, they do great stuff, except for OPP. They promote it with this “Stop the press! Bring back the Renaissance with this old style typeface, great for documents needing an enduring antique look”1. ARRRRGGG! Nothing in Olde Printy Presse is remotely similar to Renaissance printing. Here's the font table:

Old Printing Press alphabet

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Read more: Pissy little rant on misconceptions about old printing styles

A look at Guinness’ recent logo redesign – a nod to tradition & craftsmanship

I have an excellent redesign for you. The instantly recognisable Guinness logo was refreshed in the spring and the designers have done a fine job. I often look at logo changes and that little intransigent part of my brain instantly rejects the alterations. It usually takes 3 or 4 examinations before I make up my mind and quell the boring part of my thinking. The Guinness logo is different – love at first site. It retains all the best features of the original – tradition, Ireland, culture and pride.  

As expected, the company kept their classic harp design. I suspect if Guinness had a fit of madness and did away with it, there would be a rebellion in Ireland.  

Guinness Logo 2005 Revised Guinness logo 2016


Guinness has done a number interesting things: they moved the date onto the harp, where original tradmark was back in 1862 and gave the harp a rich engraved look.  While everyone else has been moving towards minimalized logos, Guinness swam against the tide with this nod to their past.

The second big change that is the font.  Something in the back of the brain says “that’s new” – it is and it isn’t. They are using the same crisp serif font, it simply isn’t elongated any longer.  It’s wider, plumper, adding to that sense of depth. The focus is squarely on the harp. The eye is immediately drawn to it – and why not. It’s the very definition of iconic.  It has that instant brand recognition most companies would sell their souls for.

The logo is far less fussy, doing away with the superfluous lines. The eye moves in a nice fluid line from the harp to the name. Perfect. Clean. Simple... and yet the engraved harp is still complex enough to be intriguing.  As a bonus, that jarring red signature is gone. Guinness opted for a consistent gold colour throughout, adding a sense of continuity to the entire design.  

I like the change. Let’s be brutally honest, the previous logo was bland to the point of lifelessness. It was simplified it to such an extent, it risked becoming clip art. In the same space, Guinness now evokes tradition, craftsmanship and quality.  Rather well done, n’est pas?




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Another corporate logo update - Sears

I’ve seen a bit of chatter this week about Sears’ new logo so I decided to wander yonder and take a look. Here’s the old:

 Sears logo  1994 2004

Ok, yes, the new logo is better. Sears went with a clean, simple font that is nicely spaced.  At first I was underwhelmed:

New Sears Canada

After seeing the two on the screen, side by side, I have to agree, it's quite an improvement. The new logo is far easier to read, especially on a computer screen. The old blue logo was a neonesque nightmare on computer screens. So this is a nice move. It remains legible on small screens unlike the previous blue one which was a nightmare to look at.

I don’t think there’s a Sears in Toronto anymore, they’ve pretty much gone the way of the dodo in Canada and I doubt this logo is really going to help much. The thing is, when I think of Sears I think of a place my mum shopped  … and I’m in my 50s. The old logo screamed outdated and stodgy. Not that my mum is stodgy … this entire paragraph just didn’t come out right.  Apologies to my mum. At any rate, Sears feels old and tired - nothing about the store or their new logo has that come hither feel to it. The company has way too much baggage for a logo to make any real impact.

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"To make my meal in a box taste better, I decided to tweak the logo, rather than the ingredients."

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I've left some content in their old categories. Instead of having readers hit the dreaded 404 Not Found error, I'd rather leave the pages where they lay. Here are the pages:
- Poster Design 2 - breaking out of a rut
- Something a little different - a poster for the site
- Slide show confusion - another candidate for Ring of Hell
- First Ring of Web Hell - the never ending slide show

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