Logo-Licious or Lame?
By Telis Demos


(FORTUNE Magazine) - Over the past three years a lot of iconic corporate logos have disappeared. Firms from UPS to Visa have colorized, animated, and reconfigured their symbols to reflect new products and new ways of doing business. FORTUNE asked a panel of three veteran corporate logo designers for their take on four high-profile makeovers

Company: Kodak New logo: Jan. 6, 2006 Old logo: 1971 Why: Modernization Verdict: Dropping an image indelibly linked with film canisters was a good move for a digital brand whose name still evokes the "click-clack" of the predigital era. "But I don't understand why they'd strip the logo of yellow," says Howard Belk of Siegel & Gale. "Kodak owned yellow." The switch to a word image away from a symbol got mixed reactions. "It's a dramatic departure, but what they've come up with is not earth-shattering," says Bill Gardner of Gardner Design.

Company: Intel New logo: Jan. 3, 2006 Old logo: 1969 Why: Product evolution Verdict: To swoosh or not to swoosh? The panel is split. Belk says adding the "Intel Inside" sticker's swoosh will help the company retain its brand equity now that its signature product, the Pentium chip, is being retired. But Jeff Fisher of Logomotives thinks that swooshes remind people of the dot-com craze: "They are so last-century." For Gardner, the new logo's more geometric version of the hand-drawn swoosh makes Intel look "sufficiently grown-up."

Company: Sprint New logo: Aug. 15, 2005 Old logo: 1985 Why: Sprint and Nextel merged Verdict: Using the dropping pin from Sprint's TV ads makes the logo both fresh and familiar. But it works better in animation than on the printed page, where most people won't make the pin-drop connection. And by ditching the italicized font, the logo "brings Sprint to a standstill," says Belk. As for the new color, says Fisher, "the yellow does convey Nextel to me." Adds Belk: "I like how they're claiming yellow, since Kodak is giving them an opening."

Company: AT&T New logo: Nov. 21, 2005 Old logo: 1984 Why: SBC acquired AT&T Verdict: "There's huge equity in the AT&T symbol, and SBC needed to perpetuate that," says Gardner. But the updated version gets a thumbs-down. Designers once referred to the AT&T globe as the "Death Star," but Gardner calls the new, transparent version "post-apocalyptic. You took the globe and nuked the inside, and you've just got these floating elements around the outside of it." Says Fisher: "It looks like a marble croquet ball." And the lowercase font? Gardner thinks "it's a nice kind of twist." Top of page

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS