Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

“The Golden Combover”

UPS logo

“About four years later, UPS finally was, evidently, ready to change, and the Rand logo was superseded at last with the swooshy, shiny, gradated logo that we all know today and that at the time was so widely criticized by the design community. But not by me. Did I like it? Not really. (I agreed with my colleague Tracey Cameron, who had studied with Rand at Yale and called it “The Golden Combover.”) Was it better than the logos we had presented? Not necessarily. But Futurebrand had done something that we and the others had failed to do: they had convinced the client to accept their solution.”

Excerpted from Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport, by Michael Bierut.

Certainly worth a read.

A few brief personal thoughts along similar lines: On designers critiquing designers.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

21 appreciated comments

  1. The package tied with string was really very dated. And as the relatively recent campaign pointed out, UPS’s real identity is in its color(s). This update is not nearly as sterile as most recent corporate updates. The combover is appropriate as it gives the mark a dynamic feel, and is, in a subtle way comparable to FedEx’s arrow. Moving forward. I’m certainly not excited about it, but I think it does what it needed to do.

  2. Katherine

    I am happy to see that UPS finally started thinking outside the box! Goodness… Unless I’ve been living under a rock or something, this is a great look.

  3. Anna

    Shield = one of the most overused symbols; how is that “thinking outside the box” (another overused and useless expression)? It is still as bad and unimaginative as it was when first creative, no matter what you say about it. And yes, even if you live under a rock, you get exposed to flood of bad “design”, thanks to easily available and accessible tools that make many believe that’s all there is to design.
    The question is not whether the old logo was outdated (everyone still understands the package icon), but whether the new one is an improvement. Designers need to have a backbone and educate the clients so they can accept good, not mediocre work.

  4. Its an improvement. Definately needed an update from the shield with the package on top. Since the previous logo was a shield it makes me wonder if that was something that UPS had wanted to keep, and so I can’t knock the new design for that. I liked what John said about the colors, really pushing the identity factor of the colors is something that the logo accomplishes well.

  5. mike lau

    Gradated and shinny effect always make a logo looks much better than it is. On a different note, I’ve noticed that some designers used stock icon for their designs, is this common at all I wonder. If you google “pixel logo” images, you will see “pixelperfections” and “pramatica” logos are basically the same; one is flipped and turend upside down with different colors. Hm…maybe someone is plagiarising.

  6. Anna, In the world of grownup corporations, how many logos have shields? It’s hardly overused as far as I can see. I can picture a few universities…
    But nobody said the shield was outside the box did they? And I wouldn’t say that the shield was the ‘take-away’ image from the logo either. ‘It’s bad…no matter what we say about it’? Let’s leave a little room for other POVs OK? I don’t think anyone is arguing that this is ‘an award winner.’ I’ll stand by my feeling that it’s a smart update in a clean, contemporary visual.

  7. Amy

    Logo rebrands are always a headache – you’ll be bound to annoy at least some of your current customers. I don’t mind the UPS logo design, but I don’t think it really competes with the multilayers of FedEx.

  8. rek

    Katherine – UPS adopted this logo in 2003, so you might just be under a rock.

  9. Why so much focus on the logo? The UPS brand is more than the logo. It’s the vans, it’s BROWN, it’s the uniforms etc etc etc.

    If I said “delivery man in brown uniform” most people would say UPS. It’s a very recognizable brand.

    It’s does remind me a little of Donald Trump though.

  10. Rich

    Lee, so much focus on the logo because of the title and general theme of this blog. Agreed that the colors are distinctive but a brand can’t rely on color scheme alone, otherwise it could be a brown turd! It’s a boring logo burdened with unnecessary effects. Shields conjure ideas of protection and reliability but, to me at least, speed is what I care most about with delivery. Protection go without saying, not made into the selling point.

  11. To me the logo does what it says on the tin and no more. In ways the logo still stays in style with the brand and doesn’t branch too far from it’s identity but it’s just not enough of a concept that’s been delivered to get excited about, as previous comments have said the nice shean it has is what’s making it a nice logo, I say nice in a way where nice is 3.5 on a scale of one to 10. I think though in the end the brand is keeping to its history and maybe that’s what they were trying to achieve. I maybe would’ve liked to see the parcel idea developed further, I liked that in the old logo, I thought that made it.

  12. What I like to see happening, now that they have played with the embossing effect, is to actually see the embossing on the side of the van, their collateral and other promotional materials. That would be cool. Otherwise the gradients and the shadow effect are useless.

  13. Josh

    On a deeper level, are those opposed to this logo basing their opposition on the grounds of a poor design…or because a Rand logo was scrapped in favor of something else?

  14. Aaron

    I’m personally not the biggest fan in the world of Paul Rand. Do I love this logo by any means? No. But was Rand’s logo that fantastic and would it be regarded so highly if it didn’t have his name associated with it? No. Many of Rand’s logos still look fantastic, but I think the vast majority of them look very dated. This is not so with Saul Bass’s work IMO. That’s why I’ve always preferred him of the two. He’s not known for his branding as much as his posters and title sequences, but Bass’s marks are timeless and all revisions (except the possible exception of united way) have only cheapened his original version.

  15. I like the new logo, I think the shield ties in well with the previous design – and I like the curvature of the top left and the way it implies delivery/motion/destination. In simple black and white this logo is even stronger than the previous. I think it’s very easy to criticise, but without seeing the brief one has to be cautious when doing so.

  16. Dylan

    All of Saul Bass’ work looks dated today. I still love his work, but none of it carries well today. None. Paul Rand made things so simple and straight forward, there are few options to make it any simpler. That’s what lasts – make it simple and say what needs to be said, nothing more nothing less. There are a few Rand marks that look horribly dated, like the NeXt computer logo for example, but for the most part his work has stood the test of time.

    Very few designers will ever be able to say that in this “bigger, better, faster, shinier” world of today.

  17. brian

    It just has the right tone and a strong memorable shape. That’s all it needs.
    Let’s not over think this.

  18. Tom

    Love how careful folks here are about saying they like it – without liking it!

    “I don’t mind…”

    “I’m not excited….”

    Guess what… 99.9999999999% of the population doesn’t care.

    The logo is fine. I think the pretentiousness of designers, in general, gets in the way of accepting anything. Communicate and move along.

    Designs do get old – it doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciated. Bass/Rand -> they’re antiques.

    Just like that old dusty Stradivarius in the corner.

    ;^)

  19. Aaron

    Re. Dylan…
    None of these marks by Bass look dated at all, with the possible exception of the quaker logo, and most are still used today. The ones that have been replaced were superior to the ones that replaced them.
    http://annyas.com/saul-bass-logo-design-then-now/

    On the other hand, every single one of these except for abc and westinghouse look amazingly dated, and most are far more complex than Bass’s work.
    http://www.paul-rand.com/foundation/identity/#.UTLsaXzwJ_h

  20. Natalie

    The UPS logo is not bad-I have to say the thing that bothers me the most about logo design in general and as a traditional artist/Freelance Designer is the numerous companies out there like “99designs” or “Hatchwise” that have some legitimate (and some not so legitimate) artists compete with hundreds of ideas- while openly showing each submitted design (there are some blind submissions as well-so not all are open to see-or copy). The client’s final winner ends up being a design idea that someone else steals either from a fellow competitor or online. The sad part is it creates so many rip off designers that the clients may or may not even know they were ripped off by a “so-called” freelancer- It makes us honest freelance designers look bad. The days are almost gone where you have a “real” artist create a solid, honest, unique logo. Everyone that owns a computer claims to be a graphic designer and sadly with some logos today, it is noticeable which ones are not professionally done.

  21. Agreed, Natalie!


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