The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a new logo and some folks are a bit peeved.
Let’s start with the fun stuff – TPL’s logo.
Activate Something Great – TPL’s new logo and slogan
If you pay attention to Toronto’s Twitterati, the new logo is a bit controversial. Or so goes the claim. The bulk of the controversy seemed to stem from a single BlogTo article1. There really isn’t anything controversial about the logo. To some it’s a bit bland or they preferred the more artistic eye appeal of the previous one. That’s fair criticism but hardly controversial.
Ok, the slogan is trite, like something that came from caffeine deprived people trapped in an endless meeting, desperate to escape. But I understand the point. The TPL (Toronto Public Library) is trying to move the library into a 21st century feel, beyond the idea it’s just books. The TPL is a community hub and here are a few fast facts2:
• 972,213 million library members and 17.5 million visits
• 100 branches across the GTA
• One of the world’s busiest libraries
• Over 7 million digital loans to date and climbing rapidly
• When I looked up the stats yesterday, there were over 6,300 active digital loans and 2 million active holds
• Extensive computer training/usage available
• digital hubs allowing for 3d printing
• recording studios
• new comer services
• archives both digital and inhouse
You can find out more here https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/
So, yes, it was time to update the slogan and logo to meet a more millennial feel. Here’s the old one:
TPL – Toronto Public Library 1998 design
There’s nothing wrong it, but the new logo has a modern clean, simple font, easy to read, no frills appeal. It also looks good in all sizes because of the uncluttered design. I’m a big fan of uncluttered. The new tpl design looks good on a small smart phone screen and blown up for building signage.
Here’s the logo from 1978 for comparison. It’s interesting to see how the art of logo design changes over the years. This would make a good case study of how logo preferences morph. Tastes change over time, including typography and logo styling. And colour. Thankfully. That brown was a dreadful choice. Just saying.
Logo from the 70s
TPL is 209 years old. Beginning in 1810 as a private subscription library, becoming a free public library in 1883, it’s had several makeovers.1
According to the design team, Trajectory, they wanted a “new identity” that “recognizes our roots while looking to the future”. No issues with that logic. However, the rest of what they wrote is a finely tuned bit of bafflegab:
It’s grounded in the written word
It’s a promise, a connector, an advocate
It connects the breadth of TPL’s offerings with ever-changing needs of our city’s people and communities
It’s flexible and adaptable to showcase the incredible range of programs, services, ideas and information we have today… and what’s to come.3
It’s a nice logo. Let’s leave it at that.
I do agree with their assessment of the new font:
The typography is accessible and welcoming, and our colours have been refreshed with a welcoming and cheerful new spin on “Toronto blue,” along with a complementary palette of supporting colours that reflect the energy and vibrancy of our city, our people, and our library.3
Now the bad. Or maybe just plain bizarre – a little abuse
Trajectory, the company behind the redesign, issued a video and press release detailing the logic behind the new design. Here’s a bit from it:
Our multi-pronged, immersive, and experiential design process was structured to be future-focused and anticipate emerging customer service opportunities.3
Fucking hell, it’s like an episode of Dilbert. Why didn’t they simply say “we field tested the design extensively and are excited about the response”. Or better still “we think we have a kick ass design Library users are going to love”.
The logo is a good fit. Not in the least controversial. Tastes will vary but that’s one of the great problems with any design – you can’t please everyone. The slogan is a bit of a miss, and a tad trite, but I can ignore it. So, what do you think of the redesign?
Want more information?
1 – Read the BlogTO article here Toronto Public Library’s new logo proves controversial
2 – Some facts about the TPL https://www.Ttorontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/
3 – A little TPL history https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/library-history/
4 – Trajectory Co https://trajectoryco.com/work/toronto-public-library/
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:
Gone was the instantly identifiable red K on yellow that could be spotted a mile away. There was never any doubt what this represented:
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?
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.
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 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?
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:
Ok, yes, the new logo is better. Sears went with a clean, simple font that is nicely spaced. At first I was underwhelmed:
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.
I stumbled across the new Mastercard logo recently and have given it a bit of thought. Well, to be honest, I kept looking at it trying to figure out what was different – I knew something was, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Can you spot the difference?
I even pulled out my card to look at the logo before the penny dropped. A couple of subtle changes have refreshed the old logo. The words across the logo, with all the stripes created a bit of visual noise. By removing them, MC has created a clean, simple and leaner logo. Shifting the words off the logo and underneath, squares it up, creating a nice sense of symmetry.
I’m pleased they kept the classic design and didn’t make huge changes. If a logo doesn’t translate well over time, ok, make that radical shift, but this is a case of “don’t fix what isn’t broken” – the two circles are instantly recognisable around the world. These small changes create a clearer visual when shrunk down on a smaller screen or on a credit card itself. Even if the word is cut from the logo, it’s immediately understood.
I have to say, changing the lettering to black and moving it off the colours, makes the wording easier to read as well. Nice touch of clarity. However, I really like the change in typography the most. The new font ditches the hard edges and now flows with the circles. The combo of lower case, rounded edges and complete vertical alignment has fresh feeling. Don’t know if their intention was to create a slightly friendlier logo, but that’s the end result. Keeping the old, but giving it a bit of a facelift has worked well.
Small changes sometimes create the boldest impact.