The network unveiled a dramatic new look yesterday set to launch officially in January — a “C” tucked inside an upside-down “C” that bears a striking resemblance to the copyright symbol, and seems simple, straight-laced, and otherwise everything that Comedy Central’s old logo was not. Faster than Colbert can raise a thumb, commenters on sites including the HuffPo, New York, and the brand-design blog UnderConsideration, started wailing: “Borrrring!”
Other reactions: “serious and boring”; “simple AND boring”; “BORING, LAME, UNINTERESTING”; “It’s worse than awful: it’s boring”; “Boring!”; “boringly corporate”; and “that is… one boring ass logo.”
Oh, my. Is it Gap all over again? Let’s hope not. The logo might be simple, but boring, it ain’t. If anything, it’s an ambitious example of branding in the age of tablet computing and, we reckon, a harbinger of things to come.
“The thing the old logo did brilliantly was to be a television logo, but it was difficult to use in a scalable way,” says Alicia Johnson, co-creative director of thelab, the New York firm behind Comedy Central’s rebrand. There’s also a sense that its cartoonish looks no longer fit the identity of the channel, which has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the schlubby early days with shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. “Although Comedy Central is funny it also plays a larger role in culture,” Johnson says. “In a lot of ways, it’s like a major news network. So, and I’m quoting a blogger here, the old logo was like showing up in a Hawaiian shirt at a Fortune 500 company.”
The new logo is simple because it needs to be able to travel across the vast spectrum of new media, from iPads to TVs. You can shrink it down, blow it up, make it dance — whatever. “One of the things we looked at constantly as we were developing the brand redesign is that it needed to become a next-generation brand package,” Johnson says. “In the old world you could do a logo mark that was dominant for print. You don’t want that anymore. The way a brand moves in a digital space — where everything moves — is as relevant to your experience as a static logo.” [Make sure to watch the video above!]
One of the chief complaints about the new logo is that it’s too corporate and looks exactly like the copyright symbol. (It also looks a lot like the Copyleft logo.) Duh, that’s the point! The copyright is the ultimate emblem of the corporate world. Here, Comedy Central is literally turning it on its head. The joke is subtle but clever. You don’t need comic sans and a brick backdrop at the Ha Ha Club to say “funny.” The new logo brands Comedy Central as funny — and subtly suggests that they’ve got a lock on laughs.
Some might argue that Comedy Central should’ve adopted a more middle-of-the-road logo — one that’s round and friendly, but not as cartoonish as the old one. It stands to reason that a bubblier logo would be just as legible on an iPhone (or any media surface) as a hard-edged “CC” (which thelab designers hand-drew). Then again, you’d lose the power of the copyright reference. It’s a toss up.
Thelab stands by its design, so don’t expect any sheepish surrenders. “It’s really more about making the content king than trying to be the content,” Johnson says. “The network has genius programming. The mark’s job is not to be the loudest, the wackiest.” Hal Wolverton, co-creative director at thelab, elaborates: “It’s an empty container that can take any form the comedy requires. …Brands are becoming more about how they behave than how they look static.” Because static, well, that’s just boring.
[Images courtesy of thelab]