The 1989 Batman film was one of the most successful at the time but besides the star names on the billing, was the very brand of the film itself. The Dissolve has a thorough post about how the studio, knowing they had a troublesome film on their hands, took an unusual route to getting the news that a Batman film was forthcoming out there.
The website Brand New is one of my very favourites. Analysing brands, logos and identities is never a dull sport as there is always something to discuss. Seeing as they wouldn’t really cover an organisation as small or as niche as the Animation Guild, I’ve taken it upon myself to analyse their new logo in a befitting manner.
To begin, let’s take a look at the old logo:
Wow, just, wow. How that was considered acceptable for such a long time is beyond me. An update was definitely (and desperately) needed and indeed was granted by the powers to be:
If the first thing you see is a spring, you are not alone. Plenty of commentators made light of it over on the blog post revealing the new logo. Plenty more tried to connect it to the Guild’s purpose or indeed how it related to animation. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, what about the logo as a logo.
Well, it does attempt to connect the ‘a’ and the ‘g’ together. This is far from a new concept in the graphic design field, but it’s a trick that is only truly pulled off by the best. The designer is Malcolm Grear Designers, and their website reveals that they’ve pulled it off before. In this case though, it comes off as a wee bit confusing, which in fairness is more as a result of the monotonous use of colour than the design of the logo itself. Instead of standing out, the two letters merge into one, neither being overly pronounced despite the heavier leading on the ‘a’.
The colour isn’t offensive. A nice, friendly light blue isn’t going to get anyone in a lather very quickly. It should also translate well into monochrome but will of course retain the clash between the letters. I can’t help but wonder what it will look like after a few bad photocopies (you’ve all seen examples of that I’m sure). Let’s just be grateful they’ve included the title, just so that we know we are dealing with the Guild and not some spring company from Ohio.
So overall, the logo as a design is OK. However that is only half the story though as we now turn our attention to how the logo works as a brand.
The Animation Guild was originally set up to represent artists throughout the animation industry in California and beyond. It reps all the larger studios (Disney, etc) as well as plenty of smaller ones. The animation industry is tight-knit and it’s not often that those within it have to deal in a significant way with outsiders (I’m talking strictly artists here).
A such the old logo alluded to these origins, with a lightbox and mouse. The new one? Not so much. I could wax lyrical about the ‘spring’ and how it could represent how the union gives helps to artists and their careers and so on, but that is a waste of time.
The logo serves first and foremost to identify who the Guild stands for, hence the use of the “Animation” in the title of the original logo. That said, the designers give their rationale for going for a non-descript new logo over something more specific to animation or VFX:
Since the Guild is made up of a diverse group of creative artists, writers and technicians in motion-picture and television animation and computer graphics it was important to us that the symbol not represent any specific design style.
This is more apt than initially appears. The Animation Guild has made noises about organising VFX studios and although that profession is distinct from animation, it would reflect poorly on someone attempting to represent them while appearing to champion that profession over visual effects.The old logo above clearly spells out ‘Animation’ thereby appearing in theory but not in practice to promote one over the other.
Add video game designers into the mix and it rapidly becomes clear that having an animation-specific logo wouldn’t do much good at all. In that respect, the new logo works well as an ambiguous representation of the guild. By reducing the logo to initials, you also remove the direct link to the name and hence the awareness of the ‘Animation’ in the title.
The typeface choice is clean and suitably contemporary (sorry, I can’t name it off the top of my head) but does away with the capitalisation in a move that (to me at least) downplays the serious role that the Guild does.
So overall, the new logo is a much-needed and suitably appropriate upgrade to the Animation Guild’s brand identity; something that, as they note on their blog post, has become increasingly important for now and the future to come.
Sure, there have been animated logos, but what about animation itself as a logo of sorts? What piqued my curiosity in this was a recent post over at Creative Review, the British magazine that is all things design related.
They recently had a discussion among designers to choose their top logos of all time. The woolmark one won in case your curious. Last week, they posted the shortlists from their panel and there was a surprise lurking far down the page.
It was listed by Miles Newlyn who’s reason for including it was:
Nice animation and memorable mnemonic.
A bit short and sweet to be sure, but he is right in that it’s memorable. The image above has been engrained in the public’s consciousness for nearly 80 years, there must be something good about it, right?
There’s much more to it than that however. The (almost but not really shocking) fact that I learned was that the swooshing star above was not invented by the H-B studio, rather it already existed as the logo for the parent company, Taft Broadcasting.
The history of H-B logos is so rich that you’ll want to mosey on over to the rather fascinating Closing Logos website and read the (very) comprehensive overview of Hanna-Barbera logos down through the years, replete with when they were used, what shows they were used on as well as any and all variants used. It is certainly worthy of a few minutes of your time that I’m sure you can spare, so