From Brand to Bland: DC Comics

BY JASON DAVIS, JANUARY 15, 2012

You don’t have to be a designer to be appalled by the latest rebranding exercise DC Comics has undergone. All you need is an ounce of common sense and a dash of taste to recognize that the new logo reeks of design by committee. I can tell that a bunch of people (i.e. non designers) sat around a table and demanded certain elements be incorporated into this new mark, diluting it into the most generic, pedestrian logo I have seen in a long time. It’s obvious that the focus group is completely out of focus, void of any clarity or creativity.

Of course identities need to be a living, breathing thing – reflecting business objectives, changing with the times and evolving.  It needs to communicate a market position and I completely understand that DC wants to shift its emphasis from comics to entertainment. But at what cost? With what strategy? By ignoring its past? Heritage? Namesake?

Here is what we got:

We all know DC stands for Detective Comics, founded in 1934, named after its premier publication of the same name. Surely maintaing any notion of detective based comics like the bullet from prior years doesn’t make sense – or highlighting a character like Superman doesn’t make sense either – both pigeon hole the brand, and consequently the company. But what’s the voice of the logo, what is it trying to communicate?

The peeling back of the D references the turning of page, a comic book page perhaps. The small opening of the C helps form the missing silhoutte of D. The mark is then anchored by either DC ENTERTAINMENT or DC COMICS, both set in the ubiquitous font Gotham. Shy of this there isn’t much else to the design. When testing the effectiveness of a logo I like to give it the swap test.

The logo works with Drew Carey Entertainment, but not so much with DC Shoes – still it shouldn’t work with anything but DC ENTERTAINMENT.

To be honest I wasn’t a fan of the 2005 DC swoosh – it reminded me of the early internet days when every online service or company had an orbit around it. I always liked the bullet design I grew up with, but still understood the need for the logo to be reinterpreted. The transition was made less painful when I saw the logo applied to the opening credits of DC’s films:

 

Maybe when applied, with color and/or animated the logo will come to life and develop some sort of small relevance among other publishers and entertainment companies – but that is doubtful. It is far from being distinctive or memorable. Hopefully the lack of creativity and vision ends with logo and does not spread to the film or publishing division of DC!

UPDATE
You can see the logo applied in various mediums and in different variations. My opinion on the matter still hasn’t changed. Check it out here.

3 Responses to From Brand to Bland: DC Comics

  1. Kevin Roegele says:

    I agree, absolutely. It’s a disgrace that a company that has seen so much incredible creativity and beloved artwork over the best part of a century is now represented by whatever the hell this is.

  2. Jason says:

    It is mind boggling how common sense fails… I’m sure Alan Moore is thrilled about this:

    http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/files/2012/01/6_h4uml2utzcy9u2pbt34.jpg

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