The WWE officially announced a glitzy, yet clinical re-work of their ‘scratch’ logo last weekend at Summer Slam to a generally positive reception. As is our wont, we’re going to nitpick and get graphically pedantic about the design.
You’d have to be living under a rock (or devoid of internet access) to not have heard that the wrestling guys WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, so called because – *spoiler alert* – it ain’t real) have just released their new logo. It’s not a terribly dramatic departure, more of a clean-up of their famous scratchy version that’s been around since 1997 when the (then) WWF (World Wrestling Federation) adopted the roughly-hewn theme. FWIW, here’s the five incarnations of their logo, including the 2002 name switcheroo when the organization ran afoul of the World Wildlife Federation’s similar, prior trademark and a co-existence agreement:
The slick logo rework.
Never was a big fan of the ‘scratch’ logo – while I get the ‘RAW‘ connection, it always seemed more a concept scribble that belonged in an art student’s sketch book than a mega-corp emblem – but who am I to question something that represented a massive empire, a lot of which was financed by licensed merchandise that bore this very mark? Anyhoo, after much media speculation and a whole bunch of leaks via social media starting a few months back, the new WWE logo was officially announced at Summer Slam last weekend. In a time were it seems new logos are released every fifteen seconds, this one was a pretty big deal. As proof of that, one only has to look at the pic of WWE head-honcho Vince McMahon posing with the new logo on a flag (the $9.99 refers to PPV rates) and on the side of the company’s Stamford, Connecticut building.
Generally speaking, and other than a few purists, everyone dug it. At first blush I did too – it had lost the art student vibe of the original design (I was tempted to say it’s too sterile but won’t, cause that would make me a whiny designer that’s never freaking happy with anything) and was appropriate in this era of so-called “flat” design. It was slick. Corporate. Clean.
And then I saw that damned nick in the swoosh.
Whenever a designer creates a logo that’s restricted to print and web, they can get away with visual murder. Things can be omitted and negative space – where things that are left off paint the picture – can be employed for all sorts of nifty effects. Every bit of a logo doesn’t necessarily have to make absolute “real world” sense, although one should be able to explain why such-and-such is there or why it isn’t. There has to be a reason, as far-fetched and symbolic as that reason may be (truth to tell, designers are sometimes criticized for employing arty-tarty rationalizations for why some logos look like they do.) Which brings us back to the WWE logo. At its heart, the design is made up of three simple components – two “W”s and a red underline “swoosh.” Like so:
So far so good. But if we treat these components as is, sliding the red underline swoosh under the “W”s into position, we end up with this:
Whoopa. In order to avoid this red swoosh from peeking through, it has to be nicked. There’s no rhyme or reason for this and it doesn’t make any ‘real world’ sense (that I’m aware of anyway.) All it would have taken to fix this logical anomaly – and to keep me out of the psych ward – is to move the bloody swoosh down a hair. Something like this:
Voila – problem solved with very little, if any, impact on the overall design. I had to put lines in the illustration because nobody would have noticed the difference between the two. This slight alteration would make real world sense, nobody would have to come up with some cockamamy reason why the nick’s there and I wouldn’t be harping about it in an anally retentive, graphically pedantic blog post.
What’s the big deal?
I can practically feel the eye-rolls as I write this. What’s the effing big deal, right? My OCD and nitpicking notwithstanding, here’s the thing – this is a design mistake. I don’t care how anyone explains it away, this is a fundamental flaw in a major logo release, from a multi-billion dollar empire. It’s the kind of thing we expect when timelines and deadlines are short, budgets are non-existent and the company just wants something, anything, to plug their wares. This is the flipping WWE for Pete’s sake. And remember what I said about getting away with design murder when the logo is restricted to flat use? Here’s what happens when we try to turn the new design into a real world 3D object, something I suspect will be quite common when it comes to animating the logo for WWE’s enormous television, video and interactive presence.
When converted to 3D the nick is readily apparent, as it is in the photo at the head of this post (go back up and take another look – you’ll notice it now.) See, when it comes to 3D logos, they’re much less forgiving, logically speaking, than flat versions and we expect them to look, and act, like real “things.” This logo doesn’t do either.
Unseeing the seen.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a case of some gripey designer moaning about a logo just for the sake of it, nor jumping on someone else’s work (which I’m generally loathe to do.) As I mentioned earlier, I like the damn thing – it’s is a massive improvement over the old scratchy WWE logo. It’s clean. It’s corporate. It’s adaptable. But that stupid missing part of the swoosh is going to drive me batshit every time I see it and it’s the kind thing that once you see, you can’t unsee. Sometimes this is by design and a good thing, sometimes by accident and not so much. First the good – remember the arrow in the FedEx logo? If you’re not aware, here it is:
Same thing goes for the bear in the Toblerone logo and the smiling G in Goodwill’s design. Once you’ve seen the hidden element in a logo, it’s impossible not to see it again and every time you see a Fedex truck, you’ll notice the arrow. Let’s try this one, the logo for Kentucky Fried Chicken:
Look at the logo on the right and imagine a guy – Colonel Sanders I suppose – with a ginormous head sitting atop a little body complete with arms and legs. See it? Now, try and unsee it.
That’s what I go through every time I see the new WWE logo.
Footnote & hat tip:
By the way – as nitpicky as I’m being, I’m not the only one having kittens over this logo. There’s an animated .gif – with over 26,000 views and counting – that takes about 6 seconds to explain what I needed 1100 words and about four hours to. View it here.