02 December 2005

[logo_design] Pajamas Media, Episode III; A New Robe

In the continuing search for identity that is the story of OSM/Pajamas Media, the new logo has debuted. It's been in the wild for over a week now, and reaction has been somewhat darkly humorous.

Logo design is a struggle to implant a message about one's strengths in the minds of those who view it, with an aim toward creating a memorable, catchy image – but catchy in the right way. It's quite possible to be catchy in the wrong way. Does PJM come off on that route? The individual verdict is in the eye of the beholder; the verdict of the public court seems to be coming in, and it's aim being political, the critical return tends to be opinionated.

But I digress. To its strengths: It is simple and memorable. The use of color in the graphic design and the type provide a strong unity. The image – a bathrobe – is an obvious reference to the fast-becoming-trite joke that bloggers do it in thier peejays. The diminishing curves to left and to right reinforce the center and seem to suggest technology in action the way the curved lines coming off the typical speaker icon suggest that bit of technology in action.

But it has remarkable weaknesses, and some of these make reference to the "10 attaboy" rule (it takes 10 "attaboys" to overcome 1 "aw-hell"). The graphic representation is obvious and rather cleverly done – but exactly what it isn't is a set of peejays. The radiating and diminishing curved lines have been noted by at least one blogger I've read to more suggest vibration (put in your own ribald comments) than anything else.

The 10-attaboys rule come up when one studies the rest of the site, particularly two points. Firstly, while the old circular brush stroke is banished from the logo it is not gone from the website. Dig, if you will, the following picture:

Note the ghost of the old logo behind the headlines list. This can still be viewed at the website, 'below the fold', as it were. Scroll down, you'll see it immedately to the right of the featured blog. This simply shouldn't be there, if this is a true rebranding; it doesn't relate to the new brand or logo, and anyone coming on the site would wonder what, exactly it is – and possibly conclude that it's an abstract pretty, meant to fill or activate the space.

The other major problem is the domain name. It's still www.osm.org. I tried punching in various versions of 'pajamasmedia' and 'pjm' into my browser's address bar and found that certain other commercial organizations already had them, so obvious lateral moves aren't that available, but something should be getting done to make the URL match the site's title. They have a scad of venture capital; maybe they should start negotiations with someone (NB: at least one of the variations of URLs containing pajamasmedia is not for kiddies or the easily offended – it's quite adult. Run your own tests at your own risk).

The damage is this: for a site that seems to position itself as a serious 'blog omnibus portal its branding and apparent PR strategy make it all look very amateur, as though they are flailing about looking for a way out of a silly mess that they really shouldn't have found themselves in to begin with. The site links to several 'blogs of anywhere from amateur to professional interest, but the site is driven by professional communicators, people who should know better. It's tough to take such a site seriously when they can't get their branding and logoing together.

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