Thursday, November 17, 2011

Design Nerdiness

Reeves launched an updated Breyer logo a couple of days ago on its Facebook page and in its e-mail communications, and I appear to be the only person who’s happy about it. Well, not so much happy, but glad to see the old logo gone.

Man, I hated that thing. It had overstayed its welcome, as far as I’m concerned; most of the other logos and identity programs the Breyer line has had over the years rarely stuck around for long, but that darn "coffee can" logo lingered for decades.

I called it the "coffee can" logo because it wouldn’t have been out of place on a coffee can. Or anything else. And that was my biggest pet peeve about it: it was just so depressingly generic. All the typefaces in the world they could have based their identity program on, and they went with an off the shelf version of Helvetica Black?

I have nothing against Helvetica family of typefaces in general (so much better than it’s red-headed stepchild, Arial), but Helvetica has a reputation for being almost invisible. That’s sort of the point - and the popularity - of Helvetica: it’s designed to not get in the way of readability.

But it also doesn’t convey much of anything, emotionally. It’s just …there.

Then there’s the issue of the typography itself: namely, that "dropped" letter R in the logo, which was allegedly done intentionally to "catch your eye." You know the saying that "if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck"? If it looks like a mistake, and feels like a mistake, it’s probably a mistake. Whether it was intentional or not.

(I remain convinced that the design firm that created this identity program had to have been blowing smoke in their faces. No, no, it’s meant to be that way, really!)

I had/have no problems with the color scheme: blue and yellow/gold have been a part of Breyer's design history since the 1960s - first with the Decorators, and then as a part of the Blue Ribbon Sticker program. I wasn’t too keen on the use of yellow as the dominant color on the packaging, though: while it’s true that it’s very eyecatching (definitely a plus, in a retail environment), yellow is one of the most difficult colors to work with from a design perspective. The right shade can look luxurious - but the wrong shade can look cheap.

It also has some uncomfortable associations with that all too common Breyer problem of, y’know, yellowing plastic. (Unless the intent was camouflage?)

While I’m not too keen on the three-dimensional "bubble" effect on the new logo (a tad too trendy, if you ask me), and it still seems a bit generic, it does feel like a step in the right direction. A little more refined, and up-to-date. I’ll have to see what the web site - and the rest of the new identity program - looks like before I make my final judgment.

(For the record: yes, the redesign of the web site really is happening, and no, I’m not at liberty to reveal anything about it.)


Little Black Car said...

The lettering does look a bit like Folger's!

I don't like the bubble effect, either, but my taste in logo design tends to be very old-fashioned. For some reason, too, I'm irritated by the tail of the "y" touching the yellow frame. Whatever. It's still not bad.

Anonymous said...

Boy, if they ever completely do away with the yellow boxes it'll really throw off my radar!

As for the logo, whether or not I find it aesthetically pleasing they have updated it well.

Anonymous said...

They are still trying to connect with the younger hobbyists - they are a "toy company" after all! So I can see this being very readable and identifiable with the 8 - 10 yr crowd. Of course, for the adults in the hobby, it misses the mark completely.

I do think it's a better idea than the previous and hopefully they will also get rid of the yellow, or at least tone it down a bit.