31 January 2012

[logo] The New, New JCPenney Logo. No, Really.

2775.The aphoristic guide to appreciating Oregon weather … if you don't like it, wait five minutes, it'll change … has its counterpart in marketing now.

Who would have thought it would be JCPenney?

Back in August of 2011, not even six months ago, I noted that, the preceding February, the towering American retailer rolled out the first change in its visual identity in forty years, forsaking the old for this sexy new number:

I still find it an effective updating, and rather clever to boot.

Not clever enough, apparently. Now, thanks to Ben Rippel for tipping me off to this one, JCP has changed its visual attitude yet again. This had flown under my radar again but, once I got tuned into it, I found pretty much a metric ass-ton of commentary had been squawked about it ...

But I get a little ahead of meself. Here's the new, new JCPenney logo:

A bold, red square, a solid blue square 1/4 the size of the red one aligned in its NW corner with the minuscule trigram jcp in.


The first reaction is to scratch one's head. Why change a logo that was changed just a year ago, and one  which was, as far as this commenter's concerned, working pretty well. I liked the update. These are the times when staying with something like a logotype based on Helvetica actually comes off as kind of bold, especially given Helvetica's reputation amongst some folks. 

I've read various interpretations coming from the world of logo-speak on this. They all ring pretty valid. The absolute squareness of the logo is supposed to make the shopper think of foursquare honesty, honest and square dealings and square deals (and here again the company's history, beginning with the reputation intended to be promoted with the store's original name, The Golden Rule, factors in). The logo, which I presume will usually appear on white (thats my memory of most Penney ad collateral) is a very patriotic palette of red, white, and blue, and it's not lost on anyone that the positioning of the blue square in the upper-left of the mark, an arrangement that vexillologists call a canton, combine to remind one of the American flag.

So, square-deal, honest mercantile, patriotic, American, cowboy hat!, yep, got it.

It's not a poor showing for a redesign. And, lordy, it ain't no New Gap Logo, to be sure. Some actual design seems to have gone into this. But only a year and we're trying on a new identity? The old new one didn't sink in really. 

If JCP were to ask me about this, I'd say if you're going to change logos again, at least wait longer than 12 months. Even the most venerable companies change logo looks now and again. But twice in two years? Even with the complete company image rework, the new 'stores-within-stores', and the delightfully creepy NOOOOOOOOO! commercials, the taint of desperation obtains. Give this one a chance to sink in.

Stick with it.

Of course there is one thing I'd like them to settle, as The Consumerist's article remarks:
We think the first thing the company should do is decide whether it's JCpenney, JCPenney, JC Penney, J.C. Penney, Jcpenney, jcpenney, JCP, or jcp.

Other readings;

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