Thoughts on the new DC Comics logo

Last night I saw the new DC Comics and DC Entertainment logos via Bleeding Cool, shown above. I spent the next hour or so scrutinizing this revised mark from top to bottom trying to formulate some kind of response, or just trying to make sense of it in my head. Instead, I just put out a tweet to see what my followers might have to say on the topic.

I was asked quite a bit last night what my thoughts were on this revision, so I decided to form it into a blog post because it seems the conversation is pretty heated, and ultimately 1-sided. The typical knee-jerk reaction to a big logo redesign is almost always negative, especially on the internet. Everyone thinks their opinion/idea is better than the one executed, so it quickly becomes a pissing match to see who can hate it the most using the most profanity. While at the same time, accomplishing nothing. I refer you to the Bleeding Cool comments.

My first reaction was confusion as I didn’t feel DC really needed to pursue an identity redesign considering they launched their previous logo only in 2005. It was met with mixed reviews, I dished out a few myself, but ultimately the logo did a great job of capturing youthful excitement (we ARE talking comic books here) and the animated version in their movie intro credits looked great. I was completely blindsided by yesterday’s launch, and woke up today with the same confused feeling. In short, why the redesign and the departure from their established legacy? Here’s the DC Comics logo history:

The new logo is quite nice. Combination of the D unveiling the C is pretty clever. The page-turn looks a little bit like a sticker being peeled away, but I can see what they were going for and an animated version for their movies might look pretty good. I would love to see a process piece written to show how they arrived at this conclusion, and what designs may have went unused.

I was recently having a cold one with my pal Dave Howlett who works at Strange Adventures, and he knows more about (and loves) comics more than anyone I know. He brought up that DC was looking to add more adult material to their comics because their audience had gotten older, ie. our generation of 30-somethings. But there are two problems here: 1) they would be completely disregarding the youth market who had supported them for decades, plus 2) they are turning off the longtime fans with all these sweeping changes to their beloved and familiar characters. This idea echoes in the new logo … the kids aren’t going to notice it, and the old-school fans might feel abandoned.

It’s a confusing move that has left me scratching my head. What do you think?

Addition: DC hasn’t made it clear exactly where this logo will be used. Of all my reading today, details have been a bit scarce. If anyone has any info, feel free to post.

29 Comments

  1. formasymphonic

    Redesigns are usually always met with harsh feedback as you say. There seems to be something about change that people seem to be so completely averse to regardless of rationality.

    That being said I actually quite like the new design as well, particularly the idea of the “D” & “C” being joined and perhaps the “C” representing content that is revealed under page turn. I would also say that the cleaner chromatic look does also successfully meet the mandate of being something that wouldnt look out out place on products that are meant to reach upwards beyond current demographics.

  2. I liked the 1976 and 2005 logo because they feel SO comic-booky…
    but this new one may have some different tasks to take-on that DC may be preparing for. (Perhaps they are preparing for more of an app approach?)

    In summary, I think both Marvel and DC would be better off with just using Comic Sans… haha
    -Reilly Newman

  3. I don’t like it, but it’s not a knee-jerk thing for me, nor do I have a better idea for a new design. I didn’t like the 2005 redesign either. The best thing they had going was the 1976 Milt Glaser design.

    It seems to me that for the most part a logo redesign is indicative of some desire to put distance between the perception of the brand then and change it now. Which is to say it’s nearly always an indication of failure. Writing this as a comics fan who’s up on the industry, DC is now in their 4th major in-continuity universe-changing reality destroying, “nothing will be the same again!” promotion. It’s also their fourth major change in direction in terms of managing the properties and trademarks they’ve had. Since 2005, despite some notable sales successes, they’ve been throwing stuff to the wall and seeing what sticks. In face of competition from Marvel, DC hasn’t been able to decide what they’re doing with the brand for going on 7 years.

    I can see the logo functioning well as an animated icon for digital comics, but DC has already decided to handle that through Comixology rather than develop their own app like Marvel.

    DC is now the Pepsi to Marvel’s Coke. Yes people drink it, but rather than develop a comprehensive brand strategy, they’re always changing things in hopes of finding the “magic bullet” that will move them into the number one sales slot for more than a few weeks.

    For this particular logo I think it was a mistake to abandon the color blue. For my entire life DC has had a blue & white logo. Even with the 2005 change, it still tapped into the same “brand reflex” that had been developed over a lifetime for comic readers. Marvel, red & white, DC, blue & white. I have to wonder if people in a comic shop scanning the shelves might not recognize particular books as DC comics now.

  4. Ian Cann

    I think the design of the new logo is pretty great, however, it doesn’t make me want to read comics. It looks more like a film distribution company logo rather than a comic book company logo. That logo is pretty sharp, though.

  5. I love the 2005 version. I was never impressed with the DC logo up until that point. I really think they nailed it with that logomark. This new one doesn’t translate anything fantastic to me. Maybe it will grow on me when I see the motion graphic before The Dark knight Rises.

  6. Jayson Hopkins

    I guess it comes down to those who view branding as the foundation and those who see it as paint. I think a cool new logo should stem from a proven need to rebrand, and it seems to me DC has decided they ‘want’ to rebrand because of a cool new logo. They’ve existed for a long time; their history should be strong in their brand. There’s much to be said about staying fresh. But, they can stay fresh and experimental on the pages of their product. I believe after such a long and proud tradition, there is more to say about remaining familiar.

  7. james (Author)

    Some great dialogue and comments. Thanks for taking the time to chime in, everyone.

    I’ve been reading some other articles outlining this redesign and as Reilly pointed out, a number of them are saying it’s perhaps an “app-friendly” approach. Once again I’m led to a bit of confusion. Is the goal of this redesign to conform to the technology at hand, or the identity of the company itself? I can completely understand the need to have a mark that works as an icon, but to strip a 70-year legacy for that goal seems strange.

  8. I kinda looks like a condom package.

  9. Even though this new identity is quite clever, I am not a fan of it. This new identity, on it’s own, is well executed and has a very modern and simplistic look and feel to it. If this was presented as a corporate identity to the average business, most would jump all over it.

    No, the reason I’m not a fan is because it’s DC. To me, DC Comics are heroes, heroines, ambassadors of strength, the super, the evil, the passionate. The company represents everything amazing we can think of in our minds, and when we envision that ourselves in our own mind, well, I don’t see an app logo.

    This new version my satisfy the corporate entity in DC, but I don’t think it does anything, yet, for the flag-flying masses of artists and fans it represents.

    As an AD, I would have suggested another round of comps… but that’s just me.

  10. CameronDuthie

    I agree with Reilly regarding the feel of the 1976 and 2005 logo’s looking and feeling comic-booky, which i would have thought that would be the direction they would want to continue in. When comparing those logo’s to the new re-design it feels like it’s lost that certain presence of childhood and fantasy. Maybe as suggested they are trying to move away from that in order to appeal to the older generation?

    It will be very interesting to see what the future holds for DC and where and how they are planning to take the company.

    I think it would really help if we saw the logo in context before we pass total judgement on it.

  11. David Bunnell

    Conceptually, it’s stronger than anything they’ve ever done. Common to most comic book heroes is the secret identity. The “D” peeled back from the “C” carries that idea—it’s literally unveiling the “C”. Once we’re all too old to care, the guys like us all pissed about every poor design posted on the internet will like this logo. It’s a good logo. It just should have been blue. That’s the mistake. Other than that, I like it. MG’s logo? It’s fine. But it’s like how all top ten lists always say that Thriller by MJ is the best music video of all time. Or how Super Mario Bros is the greatest video game of all time. Clearly there are better music videos and better video games out there. But at the time they were genius. Same goes for MG’s logo. It was awesome for the time. Now? Well, there’s not really a concept (other than strong queues taken from the super hero world: shield, stars, beefy font.) It really can only rely on it’s visual merit. It’s still rad but we have to move on. Brands have to move on. That said, they could have stuck with the ’05. It was fine. But the new iteration is clever. Just make it freaking blue, and it will be radical.

  12. james (Author)

    Great points, David. I read in a few articles that there wasn’t any specific color combination trademarked, which means it might be left open to different palettes. So in that light, you’ll probably see that blue happen.

  13. Good point about it revealing the “C”, like Clark Kent tearing open his shirt, revealing the “S”. I also agree that it’s a pleasant change away from the hyper gradients of their former logo. I will always love the 1976 one because that’s what’s on all my comics. The new one seems for refined, very well executed, has a terrific concept, and uses creative problem solving to give us a new design. Totally a win.

    Premature? Unnecessary? Probably. But, we don’t know what else they’re planning…

  14. Thanks for posting this, James. The 2005 logo always made me want to gag… This I don’t ‘like’, but it’s conservative and traditional enough to be inoffensive. I don’t mind it at all.

  15. I really like the new logo.

  16. The problem — at least how I see it is this: If you take away the copy you have no idea this is comics, or entertainment in general. Whereas all previous logos either built on a legacy and brand recognition, or had enough “pop culture” in their design to indicate what it represented (and FWIW I was never a fan of the 2005 logo, even though it does its job).

  17. The new logo is an interesting concept. I do like the overall look of it but I’m not sure it targets the correct audience. It feels like it should suit a techy or digital company rather than comics.

  18. nod

    Lose “The Peel” and you really got something

  19. Okay, I’ve thought this over. To put it simply: I think it works for the corporate sounding, umbrella company – “DC Entertainment.” However, specifically for “DC Comics” the new logo is much too “corporate.” I think of DC Comics as a sub-brand to DC Entertainment; having said that, using a derivative of the Glaser Bullet Mark would be more appropriate for “DC Comics.”

  20. I can’t help but feel a Dick Clark Productions vibe from this logo… I know they don’t look the same, it just doesn’t work for me as a comic publisher logo and as a designer. For me, they’re trying too hard to be clever for clever’s sake.

    To me, Marvel nailed it with their logo: Simple, clean and save the clever for the title card before movies.

    I’d like to see the branding guide for DC’s new logo… how they plan to reproduce it in smaller sizes, single colour, and how this would look on a business card.

    Kudos to DC for trying something different.

  21. I really wish they had used some color in the re-design. I love the 3D peel effect I just wish it had some color to it.

  22. I like it but I’m concerned how it will look printed at one color. That gradient works well for web but what about print?

  23. I think assuming that the initial grey scale logo was to be the final design was a bit premature. Having now seen the logo in colour and in context, here http://www.dccomics.com/go/new-brand-identity , I think that it works well. It’s an economic but versatile design. I think that DC have created a modern looking brand for their new modern product line.

  24. Mike

    I think the logo has potential, but it would have been a better plan to have launched it with the reboot in September. Now it looks like they are grasping at straws.

  25. It looks very corporate for a logo which is meant to give the feeling of entertainment and super heros. I prefer the 2005 logo it just seems more targeted to their audience.

  26. for me it just feels more fitting for discovery channel.

  27. I’m not into comics, but I am into logos, and I think this logo is fantastic. Having just taken a quick look at the link that Mick posted, I’m even more convinced. 100% successful, in my book. Versatile, conceptually strong, and aesthetically fulfilling.

    FWIW, I wouldn’t disagree with the fact that logo redesigns are frequently met with derision—but, in my opinion, it’s because so many redesigns are garbage. e.g. AT&T… er at&t, I suppose… but I digress..

  28. Shmeergla

    First Superman with no red pants.
    Now this.
    What’s next?

  29. It’s a clever logo- but not that fun or exciting looking. Looks like a logo for a company that might make photo copy machines or maybe printer paper.

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