Verizon revised their logo this week – but the revision does little to change the fact that their corporate identity looks like it was designed by a bored robot. In the landscape of corporate design and digital culture, it has the personality of a spindle of blank CDs.
What is it that makes this speck of visual furniture so mundane that is seems nearly invisible? The wordmark is set in Neue Haas Grotesk – a (very) close relative of Helvetica that will appear to be Helvetica itself to most viewers. Using Helvetica (or its ilk) in your logo is a Catch-22: it’s one of the only truly flawless typefaces in design history, but it is so overexposed in corporate identity usage that it blends in with the crowd like a golf ball in a bowl of rice. Then there’s the central motif that has been carried over from the old design: a red check mark. This symbol is a red check mark. The check mark is red. It symbolizes technoloZZZZZZZZZZ
In the new logo revision, the check has been moved to the right side of the wordmark. Verizon’s Chief Marketing Officer, Diego Scotti, offers the following explanation for the identity refresh: “Our goal was to define a brand identity that stands for simplicity, honesty, and even joy, in a category that has become overrun with confusion, disclaimers and frustration.”
Now there’s a perfectly distilled jewel of tone-deaf corporate brand-speak. First of all, consumers find Verizon incredibly frustrating. Furthermore, to say that this logo has an ounce of joy in it is akin to saying that it’s neon green. Unless you love check marks so much that you cry blissful tears every time you check “REFILL STAPLER” off your to-do list. If you want to see what a joyful logo looks like, check out Google’s new ultra-friendly, humanized identity.
The logo refresh was done by Pentagram – design heroes to anyone who’s ever touched an oil palette or a Photoshop filter. Pentagram partner Michael Beirut said of the revamped logo: “It isn’t intended to be clever or flashy. It’s really supposed to acknowledge its role as being ubiquitous as a kind of brand with a big footprint and one that isn’t trying to add to the visual noise around us.”
I can see that perspective. Verizon is so huge that it doesn’t need to visually announce itself with trumpets and fanfare. But the bottom line is this: Verizon’s visual identity cannot transcend the brand’s negative reputation as long as it is lugging that sterile, clinical, uninspired check mark around with it.