NBCUniversal Logo Might Be ‘The Gap Logo’ Of 2011

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Look, we know the economy is bad and times are tough and the future is unknown. And we know that a brand looks at itself, and down at the precious logo cradled in its arms, and wonders if it’s doing everything it can, if it maybe isn’t doing enough. After a while, we understand — the brand just feels like it has to do something. Anything.

But seriously, would brands all stop destroying the most recognizable elements of themselves. Please? Because it’s starting to drive us nuts. Now we have to deal with what Comcast hath wrought with NBC Universal — sorry, NBCUniversal.[more]

Here’s what we’ve had to deal with lately.

Starbucks: We understand what you’re trying to do, the new places you’re trying to go. But dropping the color combination that every caffeine-addict in the world recognizes is a really questionable move. You spent decades building that recognition.

Seattle’s Best: I suppose we should have anticipated Starbucks’ move after Seattle’s Best went from a vibrant explosion of color identifiable from 300 feet away to an emotionless circle that looks like it could double as the identity for a pod hotel in Tokyo.

Gap: Of course, Starbucks’ move looks like branding genius next to the personality crisis you had last year.

Kraft: What happened to the bold red identity? Where is the love? You’re so cold now.

Even with the twee flower? Kraft, you’re frigid.

And now we come to NBC Universal. Is it a passive aggressive move on new owner Comcast’s part to pluck the iconic peacock from the new corporate logo? Do they think people won’t get that it’s one word now unless they remove the visual element (the colorful NBC peacock fan) that separated the two words under GE’s reign?

Or is America’s biggest cable operator — well — operating under the mistaken assumption that it needs to downplay the NBC part of the NBC Universal — sorry, NBCUniversal — name? It surely understands the NBC peacock is one of the most identifiable logos in America, if not the world, right?

New NBCU head Steve Burke said in a town hall meeting today the logo for the NBC television network, along with CNBC and MSNBC, will retain the proud colors and bird for “years to come.” But he also, ominously, said it looked “kind of busy.”

We appreciate that it’s Comcast acquiring NBC Universal, and all its TV and web properties and of course Universal Studio and the parks business. And it’s a new owner’s house and they can gussy up the joint as they see fit.

But Comcast — and Burke — are cable operators not known for their branding, naming (Xfinity?) or design savvy. NBCU, on the other hand, is home to some of the smartest branders on the planet, particularly on the cable networks’ side. Which would you rather do the redecorating in your house?

Also, what’s with running it all together into one word? Just try to pronounce how it looks. Do it, try. “NBCUniversal.” You’re still going to say “NBC … Universal” even though the name begs otherwise. Bravo’s Queer Eye gang would pluck and separate that monobrow of a name in an instant.

This rebranding, we’re told, is meant to celebrate the rich and dynamic content, a meeting of brands — technology meets entertainment — so why would Comcast want their prized new toy to be so…. blah? Why no vibrancy? Why no color? Why shoot for being so… undistinguishable? (Imagine if they’d landed Disney!)

The only good thing about NBCUniversal’s new logo — which also removes the Universal globe, and was unveiled to staffers in a welcome kit that said, “Let’s make history. Again.” — is that by the time you’re done reading this, you will have already forgotten how terrible it is.

Update: Good to see that NBC News anchor Brian Williams fought the good fight today and questioned the logo change, according to the New York Times

Mr. Williams said to Steve Burke, the new NBCUniversal chief executive, “It’s our Coca Cola. It’s our Apple. It’s our Ford Motor Co., that instantly recognizable thing.”

Mr. Burke answered, “Today we rolled out a new corporate logo, which is actually going to be used in a very limited way for corporate things.” He added, “The consumer’s not really going to see this logo.”

He (Burke) said he liked combining the “NBC” and the “Universal” because “a hallmark of this company is going to be individual businesses working together.” He concluded, “I would assume that the peacock is a big part of NBC and CNBC and MSNBC for years to come.”

So there you have it, folks — the mono-name and rebrand are meant to symbolize the Comcast way of collaboration over “office politics.” In that case, it perfectly symbolizes the “culture shock” between NBCU and Comcast. Just don’t make that your new corporate identity, Mr. Burke!

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