The Dumbest LOGO Since SyFy?

By Bill Sweeney

Take a good look at this logo and make some rash judgements and formulate your own opinions before I heap mine upon you...
What does that say? Is it clear? What is the company or brand it represents? What does it say/imply about the brand?

There are so many things wrong with this (and the accompanying announcement) that I can't contain myself...

So when you saw the above logo, did you get stuck on the plus sign? Did you recognize the brand instantly? If you did then perhaps I'm about to waste my time. But if you didn't, if for even a split-second you paused in confusion then I'm right and this logo is just plain wrong.

You see, a logo is supposed to convey two main concepts, your brand and its identity. More simply: your company name and the implication of what that company is or does. Now I don't say this offhandedly, I have degree in graphic design, do all my own logo work and occasionally some freelance as well. I know this stuff and perhaps that's why I get worked up about fonts and aesthetic, but, I digress.

Back to the logo at hand. What does it say? How did you read it? VI+1? V1+1? Maybe roman numeral VI plus 1, which equals seven. Seven? What? All those are wrong. What you're looking at is the tweaked (actually re-tweaked) branding for VH1, the sister station of MTV.

Something to keep in mind is that this channel started as Video Hits One, then re-branded itself as VH1 when it moved away from heavy rotation of Music Videos for the 30+ demo and into the reality show business. So maybe an identity crisis is to blame for them settling on a logo that has no more clarity than its actual full name.

You need look no further that the official announcement to see that those who made this decision are blind to the actual brand they are offering:

“VH1 is entertainment on steroids. We have a legacy of cranking it up to 11, so our ‘tagmark’ helps us to easily convey that to our viewers and build on the promise of delivering our bold and engaging mash-up of music, pop culture and nostalgia that generates so much buzz,” - VH1 president Tom Calderone

Wow. Let's dissect that, shall we?

VH1 is entertainment on steroids."

What? Really? You seriously need to watch more of your own content. Ladies and gentlemen, the FIRST station ever bold enough to make this statement is the same one that aired "Storytellers: Culture Club" and "Pop-Up Video".

"We have a legacy of cranking it up to 11..."

No. No you don't. You must mean the TV in the waiting are by the main desk because the highest you've ever dared "crank it to" was 6.5, and most of the time you guys are a solid 5. Saying that you guys "crank it to 11", ever, is basically a lie. Do you know what an 11 even is? Could a network even BE an 11? The shows/content yes, easily, but a network itself? You guys never aired The Sopranos, Jackass, Breaking Bad, Chapelle's Show, South Park or even Headbanger's Ball. These just some of the types of shows that pushed real limits on television - with either a unique approach, intensity or voice. The only VH1 show that can be considered an 11 is, perhaps, Celebrity Rehab. The only network that could ever make such a boisterous statement and not be laughed at is HBO.

"...so our ‘tagmark’ helps us to easily convey that...

No. No it doesn't. You were lied to. There's nothing easy about it and it conveys nearly nothing. Maybe it conveys purple. The implied idea that you guys are Badass, or even slightly edgy, does not ring through via clunky purple shapes that might form letters. It seems to convey some type of new, funky-ass math. Sorry. You should have done independent research. If you did do that, you didn't do enough. What the hell is it with the plus sign? +1? Am I only supposed to watch with a friend?
Now, why did I say at the start "make some Rash Judgements" about this logo? Because that's what people do. People see these things and make snap decision on whether or not its stupid. Whether or not it works. Lucky for VH1 people will figure it out and not care once they do.

So why do companies feel they must constantly re-brand themselves to stay fresh? Sometimes, it's all about insecurity in the marketplace. Other times it's about getting brand attention. Look, does Coca-cola change their logo? Very, very rarely. But every now and then, Pepsi does. They did it recently, paying big buckets of money and some laughed at that too. But for VH1, I suspect it's more about an identity crisis. They don't know who they are because they are so varied. Besides how do you convey "Pop Nostalgia", something that is in constant flux?

To VH1 all I can say is, I think you guys have been had. You waited ten years to change your brand and spent a lot of money doing it I'm sure, but I can only see this having gone down one of two ways. First, is that you guys hired designers with this idea already in mind and they had to make it work the best they could, or second, that this idea was shown to you and the presentation jibber-jabber was so good you guys forgot about the simple idea that "if it feels odd, it is odd". 

And, hey, y'know what? Sometimes odd works. But not this time.

So, am I Crazy? What do YOU think?

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