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An Ordinary World

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 30 September 2008, 15:07    Permalink    Comments (51)

Barclayacrd logo/text
The new Barclaycard identity by Brand Union

You're a big brand. Huge. Global in fact, as we say these days. And you need to stand out more. You need a new visual device, something that can stand alone and represent your business and its values, even without the company name underneath. You want a logo that will say a few things about you, what you do – hey – maybe even where you're going in these crazy times. So, what does the cyan and white sphere above say? Unequivocally, it says: I am another company with a hollowed-out spherical logo...

The latest in a long line of rebranded financial corporations is Barclaycard which, as of yesterday, officially sports a new identity courtesy of Brand Union. In the last decade or so, countless large corporations have smoothed off their edges and sanded down their corners via a rebrand. "Look how soft and round and approachable we are," seems to run the thinking.

Barclayacrd logo

Indeed, according to the designers, the new Barclaycard identity aims to convey a calm, confident exterior while being warm and vibrant on the inside... and that the globe motif represents a "chip" being released from the constraints of the plastic card and welcomed in by new, exciting methods of payment.

The logo cost £600k (part of a £1.5m identity makeover) and while we don't need to go down the path of bemoaning the fee, what does the new identity actually say apart from what we already know: that many companies are now global businesses (hence the globe shape) and that they're highly networked organisations (hence the curly bits that wrap the sphere).

Perhaps more worryingly, it says far less about what differentiates the company from its competitors (it happens to be Barclaycard, it could be any number of brands) and more about how achingly similar corporate logos have become. In trying to say they're about the new, the modern, the global, they're in fact revealing a willingness to simply blend in with everyone else.

Here are some other familiar spherical jobs. It really is one world out there isn't it?

SonyEricsson logo

BT logo

ATT logo

Top to bottom: Sony Ericsson, BT, AT&T


Reading a Logo/Identity review without showing the logo applied in different contexts is useless in my opinion. The logo plays only a small part in a redesign these days.
2008-09-30 15:33:12

one more...
2008-09-30 15:33:44

I'm actually quite fond of the latest incarnation of the BT logo and have been since it's inception in 2003. It was innovative at the time and is still reasonably fresh five years later. However I find this new Barclaycard logo annoyingly indifferent... and perhaps more importantly, I now have an old style Barclaycard! What's in your wallet? :-)
Ben Stevens
2008-09-30 15:58:57

Methinks spiraling shapes are probably something to avoid in the banking world right now.
Matt McArthur
2008-09-30 16:27:56

Interesting CR.
Why don't you take this up in a more detailed piece, within the magazine?
It would make a nice change to see you actually getting dirty and creating a juicy critical debate.... There's a lot of questionable 'branding' going on recently....

I'd have to agree with 'Emilia'.. To form a correct opinion, we really should be shown a little more then just the logo...
First impressions don't leave much though. It's a really badly constructed logo..
action man
2008-09-30 19:10:05

That looks fucking awful.
2008-09-30 19:31:24

Looks like a blue sea plant to me (money gone aboard ;-) ?). What worries me more is the type that goes with it: that doesn't look very professional. Repeating shapes in a, b, d - come on, this looks so cheap!
Jürgen Weltin
2008-09-30 21:10:58

Two words: Oran Gina
2008-10-01 02:15:22

Lately I've noticed a lot of content here is focused on work which is bad.

Now I don't disagree about the merits of this logo or the Europa cup one, but I come to Creative Review to be inspired by great design, not to hear gripes and narkiness.

Might I humbly suggest that if the work isn't any good, perhaps it would be most constructive if CR did the same as anyone viewing it would do, which is ignore it. This would leave space for beautiful, exhilarating work which would make me seethe with jealousy and swear to lift my game.

Just my 2p.
2008-10-01 08:02:22

Honestly, 600k for a half peeled blue orange, and we wonder why there’s a banking crisis?
Echoes And Dust
2008-10-01 09:01:18

I can't stop staring at that lower-case Y. Why is it hovering like that?
2008-10-01 10:15:20

You are definately right! But I guess corporate identity is mostly conservative. It's more important that a company looks as 'modern' as the competitors than that it has a meaningful and striking identity of its own. All those big companies want to say the same basic things: we are global, we are dynamic, we are trustworthy etc. And apparently companies are willing to pay a sh*tload for these interchangeable identities, and the brand agencies are not going to say no to that, now will they??
2008-10-01 10:17:13

"Lately I’ve noticed a lot of content here is focused on work which is bad."

Mike, for students like me, it is helpful to see what work is disliked in the world, and blogs like this really help.
2008-10-01 12:32:18

This is one person's observation and opinion only, who clearly wasn't there for the initial brief or throughout the client/designer process. Accept and proceed…
2008-10-01 14:18:11

"... Accept and proceed ..." What kind of comment is that?!
Just because a 'design' has made it into the public realm does not mean that it shouldn't be evaluated.
I would imagine that about 900,000 Barclaycard customers were also 'clearly wasn’t there for the initial brief or throughout the client/designer process.'....

I think it's completely relevant that 'design' is critically debated, and this is a perfect place to carry it out. It's not some kind of holy subject that shouldn't be criticized or reviewed. It's not something that is above the general public. - In fact, there is far too little 'creative reviewing' being made at all.

It's due time CR started showing and creating some interesting dialogue for designers to think about. CR shouldn't just be about showcasing the 'best' in design and the 'latest' trends. There's far too little education being made about good and bad design / successful and unsuccessful campaigns, branding and graphic communication.
action man
2008-10-02 10:09:45

@action man I think the part of that previous point was that it is easy to subjectively evaluate a design like this without fully understanding what the design has set out to convey.

Whether it looks like a swirling sea on a globe or a cow like dog the question should be, does it communicate... "calm, confident exterior(pay with confidence/reliability?) while being warm and vibrant on the inside (as in customer service?)" or does it say tentacles of debt are reaching out to get you.
Al Stevens
2008-10-02 13:54:04

Nice type, but the logo sheesh. It's like clipart for logo designers.
Simon Coxon
2008-10-03 15:48:27

Very uninspiring to me. A logo should either be memorable or meaningful and unfortunately this is neither.
Creative Agency Manchester
2008-10-03 16:10:51

nicely put mike. i couldn't have said it better myself.

so i won't try.
2008-10-03 23:37:29

Just saw a wonderful presentation with Kathy Ireland at the On-Line Market World event in SF this week. Kathy had some powerful things to say about branding and growing your brand in these difficult times with not a large budget.
Mark Robbins
2008-10-04 08:06:13

Have all these guys just gone and created their own bag marbles?

Logo designing is all fun 'n' games until someone loses an eye - for good design.

2008-10-05 18:13:32

I'm assuming this is another product of design by client committee, and my heart goes out to the poor design team made to produce this.

If its not then someone needs to be shot/give up the day job.
2008-10-05 23:50:53

I agree the spheres are perfhaps generic on a global scale, but you can not argue with the fact that a Sony Ericsson or BT logo is instantly familar. I love the Sony Ericsson logo, it may look like it is better suited for a washing machine company on it's own, but when integrated into the adverts, 'I [logo] music.' etc it works beautifully.
Which where you've gone wrong here, you need to show the logo in practise, within context of it's use. Any logo looks despatched from the brand when on it's own.
2008-10-06 11:58:17
2008-10-06 12:20:08

{Reading a Logo/Identity review without showing the logo applied in different contexts is useless in my opinion. The logo plays only a small part in a redesign these days.}
Obviously you haven't done much re-branding or redesigning. The logo design is pivotal in the whole concept of the design.

The BT logo works as it started as the BT Open world logo, which became so popular they started using it as the main BT logo, animated its fantastic.

The Sony one, also animated gives us both the s on Sony and the e of Ericsson.

And in my opinion the Barclaycard logo is just the Barclays eagle morphed around the globe the idea being they are a leading international bank.

This must have been discussed in the brief as they were ordered to get rid of the eagle as it was deemed to anti semitic.

Why cant we talk about how shit the Visa logo is?
2008-10-06 12:53:17

Well done on speaking up Anon designer. We've all been there. It's the nature of our business unfortunately.

That hovering 'y' is really bugging me though!
Tre Flipper
2008-10-06 15:09:30

anon designer just summed up in one paragraph everything I hate about this job. And the result is a perfect example of how nobody wins - the agency look like amateaurs and the client looks like everybody else.
2008-10-06 15:30:44

You are so right spheres are totally overdone and indicative of the lack of originality in our industry. Here's another example.®-launches-bold-new-brand-identity/
2008-10-06 21:02:51

Only a small part of the puzzle. Can we have a look at the other pieces before we decide whether we like it or not. Leaves me a bit flat so far - the cut through of a rabbit shaped jelly.

Kevin Blackburn, Elmwood design, Melbourne
Kevin Blackburn
2008-10-07 00:34:49

I agree with the comments about the over-use of spheres in corporate identities. I also agree that the Sony Ericsson and BT logos were innovative at the time, and have enjoyed longevity because, fundamentally, they are interesting and unique. The new Barclaycard symbol however, is bland, unbalanced, and is simply not aesthetically pleasing. It looks poorly conceived and executed to me.

I like the typeface though, credit where is due.

Everybody needs to stop moaning too, as if their design jobs are the worst thing that was ever bestowed upon them and everyday is a living hell. I love my job!
2008-10-07 09:59:20

Mind you - the irony also lies within CR's new blog update with the new Europa League identity. A few similarities there too.

Irony is a beautiful thing!
The circle - a timeless classic!
2008-10-07 11:49:35

I love it!

It opens like an orange, giving the real truth of what's inside.

Good work!
Anon Creative
2008-10-07 13:37:46

'It opens like an orange, giving the real truth of what’s inside.'

That's an astute observation. - your right, it's a rather good reflection of what's in the Bank.

action man
2008-10-07 13:48:17

Can we please stop being so politically correct about the "oh you can't just judge it on the logo" thing. Only designers EVER say that. Because what goes up behind Huw Edwards head on the news when things go tits up is JUST THE LOGO, not a brochure, not a stunning secondary colour palette, not an online customer experience. Just the bloody logo. Branders would do well to remember that for Joe Public the logo IS everything and design accordingly.
Rob Andrews
2008-10-07 15:08:02

say no more.
Terry's Chocolate Orange.
2008-10-08 10:24:59

I think the new Barclaycard logo is awful.

While the sphere or globe logo works for company's like BT, i think the product offering that Barclaycard has doesnt fit with the theme.

Having worked for them and Barclays Bank previously, i know that we had a very positive reaction from what is now the previous logo when it was introduced. The font kept some connection to the Barclays group and the blue B-keycard logo as was know internally was strong; the shape was obviously card like and edged off with the shape of the 'B' and the message of a Barclaycard being the key was clear cut. Now that might not work today being that the emphasis is less on spending more given the current financial crisis and more on what a card can do for you in terms of convenience which is clearly the route they are now looking to take.

But for me, while it looks clean, modern and inoffensive, it doesnt tell me anything about Barclaycard. Its a little cold, being so much like everyone elses logo, and doesnt stand out or differentiate itself. Feels a bit like bold to bland. As a consumer and design fan, its a bit disappointing!
2008-10-27 17:53:20

Did you know that marbles were around in Roman times, saw them at the British Museum the other day, even ones with swirly patterns?
2008-11-01 16:14:54

ridiculous!, the only comun in these logos are the circle
2008-11-13 04:55:40

You know, I think it might be a family of Diplodocus's craning and twisting their necks to look at one another. I don't mind the new logo, the type is lovely, the shape less so, but it will be interesting to see how it will date along with all the other circular, marblesque logos. Will it been seen as 'so 2008'?
2008-11-18 14:42:18

Outright cynism and scant regard for the complex challenges faced by brand identity creatives belies the implied impartiality of Creative Review. Ill-informed, subjective and populist cheap shots like this are easily made.

There is a lot to appreciate in Barclaycard's new identity. Conceptually the symbol should not be assessed as a thing, it is a space, an environment, a medium. It is not hollow, it is a place of potential and possibility. It does not prescribe, it suggests. And even as an object, in 2D and 3D a sculptural and skillful symbol has been realised.

It shouldn't be forgotten that Barclaycard is indeed a global brand. Just like BT, AT&T and Sony Ericsson, the identity must be consumer-led and still maintain gravity in the corporate world.

Besides a few minor issues with the type, I believe the new Barclaycard identity is a winner. The symbol is a creative interpretation of the new positioning and stands alone alongside other global brands facing similar challenges.

Perhaps CR is not Creative Review but Creative Rebuke. I think reviews of corporate brand identities should be handled with greater caution in future.

Andrew Sabatier
2008-12-07 14:24:29

'Outright cynism and scant regard for the complex challenges faced by brand identity creatives belies the implied impartiality of Creative Review. Ill-informed, subjective and populist cheap shots like this are easily made.'... That's a little misguided I think..

I am sure the author has the upmost of regard for the 'complex challenges faced by brand identity creatives'.

What good is an impartial review? That would be as much good as drinking a week old cold cup of PG Tips. There's plenty of places to go when you don't want to hear any opinion... Design debate is exactly what we need more of. - Branding agencies and brand identity designers are just as accountable for what they 'create' as the rest of us.
action man
2008-12-07 21:59:09

You’re a big brand. Huge. Global in fact...

I am another company with a hollowed-out spherical logo...

The latest in a long line...

... officially sports...

... smoothed off their edges and sanded down their corners...

... bemoaning...

... the curly bits...

Perhaps more worryingly...

... achingly similar corporate logos have become...

... willingness to simply blend in...

It really is one world out there isn’t it?

Tell me I'm not being told what to think or that the author is not cynical.

Impartiality can never be realised but attempting it ensures appropriate research, disciplined thinking and insightful presentations. A review implies a well considered and qualified position. I don't expect Creative Review to be impartial but I do expect quality journalism, even on a blog.

This identity review is tabloid level journalism from a respected brand. Perhaps Creative Review is quietly repositioning itself. This entry is not a review it is a rebuke. It would appear not aimed just at the Barclaycard identity but at the whole brand identity industry.

The recent mock Creative Review rebrand was entertaining in a knowing if acidic and factious way but it was well handled. I get the impression that dissenting individuals such as the author of this review do not have insider knowledge of the complex challenges faced by the brand identity industry.

Further reviews of brand identities from Creative Review may need to be read as unqualified. If readers aren't able to identify a populist cheap shot like this then perhaps it needs to be pointed out before more damage gets done.

Andrew Sabatier
2008-12-08 11:59:53

What's wrong with a bit of tabloid design reviewing? I think it's quite clear what for a review it is and how to take it.. Lets not try and pretend we're something we're not here.

You might not like it but we should face some facts - there are developing trends within the 'branding' industry that need to be addressed and questioned within a larger context.

Rather than attack the review or author - you could be a little more constructive and share some of your superior knowledge on the subject.
And I mean a little more than saying it's a 'winner' or 'It is not hollow, it is a place of potential and possibility' - because to be quite frank, that's a load of bollocks.

action man
2008-12-08 13:08:08

I didn't say there was anything wrong with tabloid reviewing but I may need to reframe the content that comes to me from Creative Review. I'd prefer not to. It has a commendable history.

I don't concern myself with what I like. Your appeal in this sense is misguided.

What are the developing trends within the branding industry that are problematic? Three dimensional globes? Surely not. They may draw deeply on archetype which means most interpretations are cliched. A sharpened up cliche has the benefit of the archetypal message. Barclaycard's globe is a sharpened up cliche and so is BT's and Sony Ericsson's. This makes them relevant. And different.

You might want to draw attention to other contemporary trend candidates such as smiles and hearts. This is potentially far more insightful and of greater journalistic merit.

I am being constructive. I'm pointing out a source of vitriollic, biased and unqualified opinion. An opinion in a position to do further damage to a misunderstood and vitally important industry.

'A winner', is openly my opinion. 'A place of potential and possibility', demonstrates the sort of language required to appreciate the softer side of brand thinking. It is a relevant approach, open to abuse certainly and avoided at great cost to those who manage brands. Your contempt for this language is telling.

Action Man your sarcasm and lack of accountability does you no favours. I'm tempted to think you are the actual author of the review above. You can see who I am. Who are you?

Andrew Sabatier
2008-12-08 13:52:23

Action Man is certainly not the author of the post as a quick glance at his (her?) comments on other posts on this site would make obvious.
CR Patrick Burgoyne
2008-12-08 14:00:56

As Patrick quite rightly states: Action Man is certainly not the author of the post as a quick glance at his (I am after all: action 'man') comments on other posts on this site would make 'obvious'.

You may not have spoken of tabloid journalism in a demeaning and negative way, but your insinuation was crystal clear.

Of course, we all have to 'reframe' the content from CR (and many other design magazines for that matter) once in a while, the world would be a rather bland place if every opinion was agreeable... If your looking for a showcase, or a pat on the back you can turn to the pages of the latest D&AD annual (your work not inside this year? My heart bleeds).

Reframing is somewhat different as to being arrogantly dismissive on observations that are quite obviously relevant (there is no need for me to go into detail here is there? I can see you are well educated, albeit obtuse.) - suggesting these opinions and observations are 'populist' I would imagine, only exemplifies the necessity for further debate. While the thoughts and opinions of a population are surely one to be listened to....

‘A place of potential and possibility’, wouldn't really be the first words that come to mind to describe the concept of a loans or debt system. On the contrary, it rather demonstrates the sort of language required to post-conceptualize the very expensive side of brand thinking.

action man
2008-12-08 17:00:37

Action Man I'm pleased to read your latest comment is more focused and engaged, rather than off-handed and snide, although you are also prone to cheap shots.

Design is in service of branding. Design is difficult enough to grasp. Branding even more so.

Very little mention has been made of the suitability of the Barclaycard identity to the positioning strategy. The identity has been stripped of its context and judged as a thing in itself with little regard for its strategic value.

'A place of potential and possibility', is relevant to all business. Business now appreciates that it has to make a space available for consumers to realise themselves without dictating to them.

The Barclaycard identity defines such as space. It defines an environment, a medium. The medium determines the message. That is, the pattern, rate and scale of interaction that environment facilitates. In this case an environment of loans and debt management in relation to the rest of the world. The design of the Barclaycard symbol captures a distinctive space which can be read in these terms.

Of course the brand identity will have been sold in more pragmatic terms but there is always a wealth of intuitive and intellectual processes behind a brand of this stature. As someone who seeks originality and has a fair grasp of what's involved, I am satisfied.

Andrew Sabatier
2008-12-09 11:53:58

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.
action man
2008-12-10 15:19:46

I think a chart of maybe 30 similar logos would do better than three relatively unrelated businesses, AT&T with wireless, Sony well they make phones but they also make games and TV's, and Barclays, a bank? I think visually we might tell a more compelling story of similarity of the businesses were in the same markets and had more examples than 3. What strikes me most is actually the similarity of Barclays to the AT&T logo, and certainly this isn't a coincidence, but I might chalk it up to the fact that most creative teams are doing their discovery work behind a screen and not digging into a historical library of books like they might. A trip to the library might remedy this better than yet another "here's what sucks about design today" piece. I'm just sayin'.
Giles Dickerson
2010-04-01 14:01:45

600k for copying someone else's creative (bt, at&t, sony). What a waste of money.

You would have thought brand union could of come up with something more original.

Andrew Simmonds
2010-04-09 15:17:13

I think that you should be careful about the quality of the images you publish. It is not acceptable that a website dedicated to the creative industry publishes a logo like the baclayscard with such a poor quality. There is something called for your reference.
Luis Castellón
2010-12-01 21:00:00

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