[dropcap1]I[/dropcap1] say victim because it appears that another retailer/major corporation has fallen into a rebranding pit. This time JCPenney is the target of some major criticism for changing up it’s iconic logo. Not only did JCPenney seek to change things up, the company sought the help of a design contest. With over 200 entries, a design student from the University of Cincinnati took the prize for winning logo design plus a major portfolio boost.
Design Contests….Good or Bad for Business?
I understand why companies choose to go with contests. They boosts awareness and participation and companies can get a good variety of entries to choose from. However, there is no guarantee to quality submissions and then you just wasted a bunch of time and resources. Not to mention design contests often downplay the value of design from a trained professional. It always amazes me how design is never treated the same as other careers. You wouldn’t put up a contest for drafting a new building or performing surgery. In cases such as those, professionals may have to prove their abilities, but that’s the point. They are credited for those abilities and aren’t thrown into a pot ripe for the picking. Their education and skills speak to their future jobs.
That’s not to say that design students aren’t owed a chance and can’t compete in the real world. Large companies set a precedent and when you pick from a pot of design students, it’s a slap in the face to designers that have worked through the ranks and know what they are doing.
Now let’s discuss the actual logo. JCPenney, as do other retailers who are changing their logos, wanted something new and fresh. While the logo itself may achieve that, I can’t help but get a Gap logo the sequel feel when looking at it. What is with the box? For a good chuckle, there is a great Dilbert comic that addresses this very concept:
How does JCPenney’s describe their direction?
[blockquote]”The jcpenney logo puts greater visual emphasis on a new, lowercase “jcp” by positioning it slightly off-centered in a red box while still featuring the Company’s signature red color and Helvetica font. The logo was designed to evoke a sense of movement and discovery as the letters appear to break out of the box, symbolizing an emergence into an exciting, new future.”[/blockquote]
Not only does JCPenney now refer to itself as jcpenney (all lowercase), it continues it’s duty to break through into an exciting new future by offsetting white text in a red box with bolded red text to the right of said box. Confused yet?
If you take the new logo as is, it’s really not a disaster. It’s easy to read while keeping some resemblance to JCPenney’s original look and feel. I would question though, why the “enney” is bolded and “jcp” is not. It visually separates the two so that your eye immediately see’s “enney” instead of “jcp”. If the company wishes to use the full name as well as the abbreviation, it would be better to visually emphasize “jcp”. Also, since “jcp” is up against the right side of the red box, it isn’t going to look great as a standalone piece. It already bugs me that there is more space on the left then the right even though they wanted the negative space to portray the text coming out of the red box. It is obvious these little issues are the work of a design student in training. It’s a worthy effort, but it just isn’t there yet.
While I don’t fully understand why so many companies are jumping into the rebranding pit, JCPenney’s new logo isn’t a total flop. This new logo is safe and obviously the work of a design student in training. However, after all the criticism has settled, JCPenney will go on with their new logo and business will continue as usual.
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What do you think of JCPenney’s new logo? Is it a hit or miss? If you designed it, what would you do differently? Leave your comment below!