2010-in-review

New logos, brands, rebrands and design trends of 2010. A look back at some of the more notable events of the last year..

As the Holiday Season draws to a close, it’s sort of a tradition at The Factor that we take a look back at the previous year, analyze some notable logo redesigns and take a look at some logo design related stuff that stood out in the past 365 days. We’d also like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy (and prosperous) New Year.

Enjoy.

Making their debuts in 2010..

Wikipedia logo

new wikipedia logo
If you blinked, you may have missed the new Wikipedia logo. The new design (recreated as an actual 3D model) features several script corrections and the addition of new languages not featured in previous versions. Sadly, a Klingon character was removed (replaced with Amharic.) The actual 3D construction of the new mark was carried out by Philip Metschan, a designer and art director who’s previous gigs include Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar.

iTunes logo

new itunes logo
When Apple trotted out the new logo for iTunes, Macintosh fans were quick to pile on. “It sucks!” they Twattered. “Does not!” Steve Jobs was quick to shoot back.

Museum of Science and Industry logo

new museum science industry logo
The Chicago Museum of Science & Industry rolled out their new logo during TV spots for the Winter Olympics, to mixed reactions. Gone are the trademark bars with overlaid boxes, crowbarred into the design for the words ‘THE’ and ‘OF’ (trust me, doing that’s always a pain). In their place is a geometric linear treatment consisting of the museum’s acronym, wrestled into a 3D-ish icon. The old serif font’s been tossed too, replaced with type reminiscent of the Bauhaus school of thought. After getting used to the change, gotta give this one a thumbs up.

Symantec logo

new symantec logo
This is what happens when a company worth a cazillion dollars aquires another company whose main asset is a little check mark. Check marks aplenty.

Ubuntu logo

new ubuntu logo
Along with the launch of Ubuntu 10.4 back in April, a brand new Ubuntu logo also made it inaugural appearance. The trademark network icon – featuring three abstract interlinked figures – is still there, but it’s almost an afterthought, rather than the focus of earlier logos. A streamlined font was also thrown into the mix.

Skittles logo

new skittles logo
The Skittles rebrand was helmed by London designer Miles Newlyn, in tandem with Dragon Rouge studios. The logo is supposed to be a literal translation of the candy’s slogan, “Taste the rainbow.”

DNC logo

new-democrats-logo-rebrand
The Democratic National Congress ditched their kicking mule logo, replacing it with a capital D in a circle. Unveiled just before the November mid-term elections, critics were quick to point out that maybe instead of mucking about with rebrands, the party should concentrate on getting Democratic politicians elected. Judging by the Democratic Party performance, those folks may have had a point.

Dell logo

new dell logo
Speaking of circles, here’s your new Dell logo.

MTV logo

new MTV logo
MTV took a hatchet to their logo, a design that’s been a ubiquitous piece of pop culture for almost 30 years. Not terribly much to write about – there’s only a little bit of change in the overall design, specifically the removal of the redundant Music Television strapline, lopping off the bottom of the large ‘M’ and a slight perspective tweak. The logo, like many of us who were around for its inception, is also a little wider and fatter. Gone are the vibrant primary colors, textures and pattern fills that were a part of the logo for all these years.

YMCA logo

new ymca logo
The YMCA‘s new brand strategy – the result of more than two years of analysis and research – is supposed to be a “more forward-looking logo that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the organization, and a framework that focuses resources on three core areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” The nonprofit will be called “the Y” to align with how people most commonly refer to the organization. Apparently, it will take quite a while to implement the new logo with Ys across the USA expected to transition within five years.

Comedy Central logo

new comedy central logo
Not technically a 2010 logo (the logo is scheduled to make its official appearance on New Year’s Day) it was announced, and discussed a few week back. Gone is the Tim Burtonesque cityscape, replaced with sans serid typography that looks like it was caught in a Tilt-a-whirl. The new logo has lost the zany vibe of the old, crowbarring a definite corporate look into the mix. It’s cool and all, but does it say ‘comedy’?

Big Ten Conference logo

new big ten logo
After adding Nebraska to the mix, the Big Ten conference actually consists of twelve teams. Odd then that the new logo makes no reference to that fact, eschewing the clever use of negative space in the previous incarnation when there were eleven teams. After this logo, designed by Pentagram, was released, the criticism came hard and heavy. In fact, the logo fared only better than the Gap logo in terms of hate, mostly from sports fans.

MySpace logo

new myspace logo
In the era of Twitter and Facebook, social media MySpace tried to claw its way back to relevance with a brand new logo. Ditching the human centipede for a minimalist approach that saw the word ‘space’ replaced with, well, a real space. The idea is that this is where people put their own stuff, making MySpace, truly, well, their space. While the design does have a cool art school concept going on, most people viewed the new logo with an “I don’t get it.”

Royal Opera House logo

new royal opera house logo

The Royal Opera House got a facelift. New crest. New font. Nice.

Google logo

new google logo
If this logo belonged to anyone else, the changes are so minor that it would hardly be worth mentioning. Because it’s Google, it is. The search engine cleaned up their logo ever-so-slightly, dialing back on the bevel and drop shadow. The font, for what it’s worth, is still Catull.

Best logo redesign of 2010

Glaad logo

new glaad logo
The new logo for The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is just an awesome logo that says so much, while retaining incredible visual simplicity. A design that any logo designer would love to have in their portfolio.

Back from the grave department

The Pan Am logo

new pan am logo
What happens to old logos when they die? They show up on designer (read: expensive) bags, towels and trinkets. At least if the Pan Am logo is any indication. Almost twenty years after the passenger airline went bust, their logo is making a comeback of sorts as a fashion label. After unsuccessfully trying to relaunch the airline (unfortunately, in the aftermath of 9/11), the company (or what’s left of it) decided to offer up fashion goodies for sale. A company rep had this to say about the accessory line: “One of things we noticed along the way was that while people only wanted to pay $49 for an airline ticket, they didn’t mind paying $150 for a bag,” While the line was originally launched in 2008, it found new appeal partially due to a blog post in The Los Angeles Times last summer.

Logo redesigns that weren’t

NASA

new nasa logo

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched its “meatball” logo in 1959, experimented with a text only design (known as the worm) for a bit, before talking up with the meatball logo once again, using it through to present day. Over fifty years after NASA’sit was unveiled, the designers at design firm Base decided the meatball was a bit out of date and took it upon themselves to design a new one. Trouble is, nobody asked. Seconds after posting their spec work designs, probably for the publicity, the internet was a flutter about “Nasa’s new logo”. The pretend design even made it into some 2010 new logo wrap-ups, announced breathlessly as “Nasa’s new logo”. Old schoolers can relax. It isn’t.

Missile Defense Agency

new missile command logo
Egads, people proclaimed. The new Missile Defense Agency logo not only features stripes cribbed from the Obama campaign logo, as well as the ubiquitous ‘O’ circle, the design also features an Islamic Crescent. Political blogs went apoplectic. Trouble is, it wasn’t a logo and was designed during the Bush era. You can read the entire sordid tale here.

Clusterfuck of the year department

Gap

new gap logo
What can we say about the Gap logo debacle that hasn’t already been said. If you missed that little pearl, here’s the skinny. Gap quietly introduced a new logo on their website. New logo was picked up by the media, both design and mainstream, and the Interwebs lost their collective minds. Gap announced that maybe the logo wasn’t final after all, and that they were going to ‘crowdsource’ the new design. Interwebs freaked out again. Gap backed down, reinstated their old logo and went back to the drawing board. The end.

They really should have known better department

Brazil World Cup and Toronto Pam Am Games logos

sports logos

Oscar worthy

Logorama

Logorama, a sixteen minute short film that pokes fun at the culture of commercialism and the impact of corporate logos on, well, everything, won an Oscar for best animated short film. Based entirely on characters and scenery created with famous corporate brands, Logorama is the profane and violent brainchild (the video above is definitely NSFW) of the Paris-based design firm H5, an outfit previously famous for its work in commercials and music videos.

Bullshit trends sure to continue in 2011

Design contests

Not going to rant here (we’ve done enough of that this year already). Let’s just say they’re bad for clients. And designers. But because contest holders are wowed by a cornucopia of free design goodies and designers insist on entering their work, design contests are sure to be around for the foreseeable future.

Logo Raiding

Here’s how Logo Raiding works. Visit Logopond, Brandstack or a host of other logo gallery sites. Pinch a whole bunch of logos, organize them into themed posts (40 furry logos, 60 cat logos, 20 squirrel logos, 15 logos with pigs, etc) and then publish them on your blog. Bob as they say, is your Uncle. These kind of posts get bounced around Twitter too, so while these efforts are long on noise, short on signal, the trend is sure to continue.

Weasel words of the year

Crowdsourcing

Even Jeff Howe, the dude that coined the phrase, thinks that the use of crowdsourcing as a descriptor is getting out of hand. Crowdsourcing is used to describe anything from asking people’s opinion on Twitter to a phrase to describe spec work and design contests. An earlier attempt to redefine the word, as it relates to design contests, was an epic fail, so crowdsourcing is certainly going to be with us for a while.

Curation, Curating, Curator

Some of the major talking points of crowdsourcing sites are that “anyone can design” and that it “levels the playing field.” At odds with that notion, ‘curation’ of crowdsourcing efforts involves someone – a ‘curator’ – inviting designers with preselected bona fides to enter, and lording over the festivities. Think art direction. Without paying the art directed. Weasel economics at its very best.

Most knocked-off logo

Euroyacht

the-boat-logoAs loathe as I am to award ourselves anything, I’m afraid I have to give ‘The Most Knocked Off Logo’ award to one of our own designs – the logo for a European boat distributor known (at the time) as Euroyacht. Seems like every time there’s a design contest for anything to do with water, boats or marinas, our little icon gets knocked off and entered. Over the past year, entries featuring the Euroyacht logo have even won contests – one on 99designs and another on Crowdspring. Don’t think there are too many logos that can make that claim. Strangely, most people are now copying the logo from a page entitled ‘Enough with the damn boat logo‘.

Element most (erroneously) seen in logos

Islamic Crescent

Google logo with Islamic Crescent
Some folks saw Islamic Crescents everywhere. First, it was the Missile Defense Agency logo (see above). Then it was the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit logo. Some even saw an Islamic Crescent in the Google Veteran’s Day doodle. Naturally, there were perfectly sane, perfectly rational explanations for them all. And none involved crescents, Islamic or otherwise.

Nothing illustrates success more than success department

The top ten most valuable corporate logos

top-ten-most-valuable-logos
According to Fortune 500 magazine, these were the most valuable corporate logo properties of 2010. Big bucks aplenty.