Waterstone’s rebrands

Waterstone’s booksellers unveiled a new identity this week. Out go the serifs and caps, in come sans and lowercase, plus a range of logo iterations in-store…

newwaterstones388_0.jpg - Waterstone's rebrands - 2410

Waterstone’s booksellers unveiled a new identity this week. Out go the serifs and caps, in come sans and lowercase, plus a range of logo iterations in-store…

According to a Design Week story posted on mad.co.uk, here, HMV (Waterstone’s parent company) has apparently driven the rebrand and worked with its preferred branding agency, venturethree.

Reaction has seemingly been mixed (The Register, for example, described the logo as resembling “pendulous dugs”, which at least goes a little way to allude to the tagline of “Feel every word”). It does look rather like an upturned HMV (sorry, hmv) “m” though.

We nipped round the corner for a proper look at the Oxford Street shop. While the old signage is still up (often the way), inside the shop the new identity is used more colourfully on posters and 3-for-2 signs (see nice X-ray version, above).

While these inventive takes on the logo are certainly more dynamic, it still feels that the identity itself lacks the confidence, even austerity, of the old one. It may still be a large corporate behemoth of a chain, but at least it looked like it remembered what bookshops used to be about.

Indeed, while the aesthetic may be driven by how it sits online, we can’t help thinking that the new identity is going to look out of place on Waterstone’s grander buildings, like the New Street shop in Birmingham, or the Piccadillly flagship in London.

Of course, there’s already a reminder of what great sans-serifs can look like on the latter: the Simpson shop sign from 1936 is still there. And it still looks good.

Update from the bookseller.com: the redesign was “worked on as part of the retailer’s standard marketing spend. It is understood that no additional costs were levied. Venturethree worked with focus groups to research the brand.”

Update #2: we’ve been in touch with venturethree for some more information on the brief behind the redesign, but they’re awaiting client approval on a few things. As soon as they have this, we’ll be able to post up some more on the thinking behind the project.

Update #3: VentureThree has posted some more logo iterations up on their website, here.

Photo of Simpson sign, Waterstone’s Piccadilly store, by Yersinia on Flickr. 

  • http://sky-n.blogspot.com sky

    I think it looks cheesey and less classy.

  • http://www.seducedbyguadiness.co.uk David

    looks like the “m” from the hmv logo turned upside down :)

  • mark

    epic fail

  • lee bryan

    where’s the idea?

  • http://www.studioname.co.uk Jennie

    @sky – you’re completely right… classless.

  • http://brineandpine.com/blog Melanie

    Unfortunately, an example of what happens when brands follow trends in lieu of honoring their individual identities. This makes me wonder when serifs will come back into fashion, and everyone revamps their word marks from the current sans-serif mania.

  • http://www.roastedsundays.wordpress.com Crackles

    yeah, massive fail.

  • http://iammagpie.co.uk Sera

    its a bit of a let down, David is right about it being the ‘m’ from hmv upside down, they’re owned by the same company so perhaps its some multi-rebrand-collaborative-deal.

    I think that some brands take sans-serif as a ‘step into the modern world’ where as in fact its not always the best route for every brand. I like their old logo much more.

  • Paul

    NO! :(

  • Tom

    sagging boobs?

  • Russell

    Sorry Waterstone’s but I’m not too keen… completely agree that it might fit well online but can’t see it working well on some of the grander store fronts – the old design looked quite sophisticated but this new one doesn’t hold much gravitas for me.

  • bskyb

    Well, Venture3 did Sky’s branding and this doesn’t ‘arf look like an extension of that…

  • JR

    Looks like a bottom!

  • http://www.jpink.co.uk Jonny

    Seems to be a rather pointless change, and the new main typeface will age badly in the next 5 years.

  • http://www.thealternative.co.uk Gavin Martin

    I’m all up for people remaining open to change… but that’s one they shouldn’t have made.

    How many consumers will actually notice what’s ultimately a very small (dare I say pointless) shift?

    @JR – or boobies if graffiti’d right

  • Req

    Oh deary me no. Not a good look at all. A serif evokes books. This is more like a quick new web company. I have a metal bookmark with my initial in the same style from Waterstones that I’ve kept for years. Does this appeal? No way.

  • http://mikecuthell.com Mike Cuthell

    What an absolute disaster…

    People don’t like change, that I know. BUT the serif is iconic with books & literature and ultimately Waterstones, I get the whole trying to modernise thing… but seriously who is leading this monstrosity! It would be like taking the sharp bits out of the Nike swoosh, or putting serifs on the Golden Arches…

    They’d have been far better off going for the classic twist for the .com front.

    I could go on, but I won’t.

    Tell me it’s a prank.

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=120399301314224 Peter

    I agree with the above comments; the old serif worked very well and give the impression of being part of a tradition of bookshops. The trend for all lower case sans-serifs always reminds me of boo.com. They give off a here-today-gone-tomorrow kind of feel that does not suit a book store.

    There is a facebook group for it’s rollback here.


  • http://www.nathandavidsmith.co.uk Nathan David Smith

    oh goodness, why??

  • Costas

    The use of the “w” as an image demostrates something more interesting, but the logo standing alone looks very weak – particularly in the corner of the poster without the logotype. What is strange is that it hasn’t been long since the classic all caps setting and black and gold identity was changed to title case and black and white. I completely agree with the hmv comments. It seems to have lost all its heritage and authority. Real shame – however their product offering is excellent so we’ll have to see how it effects them.

  • Aaron Merrigan

    Killed it…

  • Craig Thomas

    ‘We want to be modern what with the ipad and everything’. Never mind the to-die-for brand equity. Sigh.

  • kareena

    Terrible, do companies have no balls anymore?
    Whats wrong with traditional and sophisticated and appropriate to the brand?
    They just joined the league of supa-simple disposable clothing brands like New Look.

  • http://www.wemadethis.co.uk Alistair Hall

    Looks like they’ve decided they no longer sell books, but sell data instead.

    I’m guessing their main drive was to look more ‘webby’ (waterstones.com rather than Waterstones), desperate to stay on top of the e-book / iPad wave. Wonder if they’re anticipating becoming an online-only brand? Even if that is their motivation, this doesn’t feel like a sophisticated response.

    Thinking back to when Waterstones was set up, the identity reflected the bookshops as places staffed by people with an in-depth knowledge of the books they sold. Tragically the shops are no longer quite like that. And that’s far sadder than their changing logo.

  • http://www.truth-design.co.uk Darren Scott

    Pointless, waste of money! Should have just refreshed the way they used the old logo. Your heritage and pedigree just went in the bin!

  • http://www.seamlessmedia.co.uk Rob

    The vast amount of space between the ‘W’ and website address is terrible.

  • http://www.19-77.com Paul Bailey

    I have to say that I’m disappointed with the criticism of this identity when, I am assuming, that no-one here was privy to the briefing the branding agency received. For example, there is always the possibility that the agency was tasked with moving the Waterstones brand away from the previous, more traditional branding.

    I have no affiliation with Venture Three at all but my point is that too many times design studios are criticised for their work by people who have no idea what the task in hand was. Constructive critisism is great but saying another designer work looks like ‘a bottom’ or ‘sagging boobs’ is plain ridiculous.

  • http://www.whatkatiedoes.net katie

    Paul.. maybe it’s not a criticism of Venture then but the original brief.. either way it feels off-brand and poorly executed. It actually makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to look at.

  • Mark

    I think the image of two books from above creating the W is a much stronger idea in the new identity than in the old one. A plain “W”. Now where’s the idea in that? But the new word mark is so very dotcom, Well everyone has an opinion about these things, but I would rather that they’ve to introduce this new W-symbol, and the graphical elements that it enables (some as seen above), but kept the serif word mark which keeps the authority and heritage of the name. Also bringing in interesting contast. Both the old identity as well as the new one lacks dynamics. Two small cents. As said above, it’s so easy to critizise without knowing anything about the brief recieved.

  • http://mycopywriter.wordpress.com/ Johnny

    This looks like it was designed by someone who never reads books. Is this wise?

  • daveeed

    its two nipples short of a set saggy knockers!

  • Phil

    Paul Bailey: But ‘bottom’ was the first thought that entered my mind, what happened behind the scenes is irrelevant to the consumer, but the thoughts a logo conjures aren’t. And it seems I’m not alone in having that particular reaction.

  • Kyra

    Waterstones seem to have missed the point slightly – rebranding your logo isn’t going to move your market online. Customers need a reason to switch the way they engage with a brand (assuming the aim here is to get them to switch from stores to online) and a sans-serif font and logo isn’t a reason. Provide an awesome browsing/checkout/delivery experience, better prices, and added value to your online presence – then you can have a great online market *and* a logo that speaks to your heritage, authority and experience.

    On the other hand, I can’t help but think we – myself included – might be being just a little sentimental here. If we all loved traditional, local, knowledgable bookshops so much, we should have shopped in them when they actually existed, rather than pretend that a serif W in black and white = all of those qualities … when actually it just means a fantastically sophisticated (and successful!) brand exericise in convincing millions of people that they’re shopping for their books somewhere unique, when really what they’re doing is shopping in hmv.

  • Phil

    Paul Bailey: But ‘bottom’ was the first thought that entered my mind, what happened behind the scenes is irrelevant to the consumer, but the thoughts a logo conjures aren’t. And it seems I’m not alone in having that particular reaction.

  • http://www.kevadamson.com Kev Adamson

    Oops. I think a brand ‘refresh’ would have been better than this drastic change.

    I’m not massively offended by it, plus the concepts are interesting and lend themselves well to the bolder more symmetrical shape.

    But, for me, the old logo gave off an odour of fresh coffee and new books , while the new logo gives off a stench of cheap perfume and plastic.

  • http://www.thinark.co.uk Julian Sykes

    I take it that most people are designers in someway that have been posting. Indeed I am as well. So it raises a question of what we as designers should and shouldn’t do. What jobs we take on and what jobs we do not. With this one in particular I can imagine there would be huge pressure on the design company to make a big change to align more with the new brand they did for hmv. Yet could they have challenged the business saying we think it is fine as it is??? I do not know as I was not involved.

    Ultimately it really comes down to the notion of consumerism and how we judge success through monetary means as opposed to other gauges which make it ‘necessary’ to make things ‘new’. I wonder if it is about time we started looking at the wider community issues, as gauges of success?

  • Tom

    Really? hmmmmmmm d’oh

  • http://www.gwsmedia.com Lucy

    I agree – what a shame. The change seems like a real step down, not encouraging at all.

  • chris mcgroarty

    I dunno. it makes me want to read…

  • http://www.thinark.co.uk Julian Sykes

    I take it that most people are designers in someway that have been posting. Indeed I am as well. So it raises a question of what we as designers should and shouldn’t do. What jobs we take on and what jobs we do not. With this one in particular I can imagine there would be huge pressure on the design company to make a big change to align more with the new brand they did for hmv. Yet could they have challenged the business saying we think it is fine as it is??? I do not know as I was not involved.

    Ultimately it really comes down to the notion of consumerism and how we judge success through monetary means as opposed to other gauges which make it ‘necessary’ to make things ‘new’. I wonder if it is about time we started looking at the wider community issues, as gauges of success?

  • Brace for Impact

    another cheap, nasty, dumbed down logo, in the same font as hmv?!

    shame it’s lost all class, in a time when it’s one of the few remaining bookstores, surely it didn’t need to turn this desperate?

  • http://www.leard.co.uk Steve Leard

    I think this article by Michael Bierut sums it up for me… http://www.azuremagazine.com/newsviews/blog_content.php?id=1323

  • http://www.mjcreations.co.uk Mark James

    Am I the only one who quite likes the new design?!

  • http://www.stephburningham.com Steph Burningham

    I think it was a good idea to put a bit of life into the brand – more colours, illustrations etc – but they could have done that to the existing serif W, the new sans-serif one was completely unnecessary and simply a really bad choice.

  • Mike Krage

    If it ain’t broke…

  • A

    @ Mark James



  • http://www.digeratimarketing.co.uk Mark

    Awful, absolutely awful.

  • http://www.sjlwebdesign.co.uk SJL Website Design

    I agree with the majority of post, the original logo is far better. I don’t think the new logo will brand as well at all!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/_diminuta

    i don’t like it….. looks less literary, too modern, like trying to be cool but not.

  • Roy

    I hope the cheaper style will be reflected in cheaper product prices.

  • Andrew Edwards

    Wust hand it to venturethree, they got amay mith it!

  • http://www.abidaker.com Abi

    I don’t like it. I don’t see why they need to visually associate themselves with HMV in the design; they’re two different businesses and the old ‘W’ suited a bookshop more than this does.

    As Mike says about ‘if it ain’t broke’..

    I’m not a designer, but I felt the old W, using a serif font, was appropriate to the media it reflects as most books I’ve read use serif fonts. Sans serif is more appropriate to digital media in my view, although obviously, this is just my view and I’m not especially educated in this area.

  • http://www.springloaded.net Grant

    I rarely comment, but as someone who is a big reader, I really do believe they didn’t get this right. I think the new typeface is harder to read which is just ironic in the extreme. Perhaps I’m also being sentimental, but whatever the case, I also don’t fully understand this move towards “new, modern = sans serif”? As someone said earlier, it looks like a cheap web startup. I know these comments won’t make a difference, but I have lost a bit of respect for the brand and what it stood for.

  • http://www.unruly.ca Katy McDevitt

    I’m not a designer — I’m just an editor and writer and internet crank — but I’m more than willing to chuck my 2 pennies into the conversation. I’m entirely agreed with the contingent that says the new sans serif W looks arse-y or tit-y, so unless Waterstone’s is intending to become a major player on the smut-peddling scene, I don’t think this is a happy move for them. That being said, I kind of dig the two variants of the new W. Maybe they’d be better of retaining the old serif’d typeface and playing around with it in similar fashion. Sometimes renovation is better than full-on razing.

  • zuko

    Depressing. :(

  • Rebecca

    Oh dear.

    I agree with the majority of the previous posts. The new logo doesn’t encapsulate what the brand stands for like the old one did. I also don’t agree with the idea that to appear modern a sans serif must be used, especially as books are heavily associated with serif fonts.

  • Steffi

    Wont see that in the High Street. Go back to the original and stand out and be proud

  • Andy


  • http://www.beachhouse-design.com Chris

    At the risk of being contrary, I actually don’t mind, it instantly dates the previous mark/typographic style. The receptacle style posters look current and give opportunity for some fun. Change is always good, perhaps they left it a bit too long and people have grown too attached. I think it also alludes to the new digital age of reading ahead.

  • pat

    As much class as a pair of saggy boobs… oh wait..!!!

  • http://www.zoo-media.co.uk Shepster

    Who gives a toss? I’ll still buy my books from amazon (all lowercase)

  • http://www.creativegiant.co.uk Rob Wilkes

    I think it loses its tone of voice, Waterstones to me needs to shout knowledge from its brand, and be enlightening, educational, experienced, intriguing and more… although I do like how the w has been applied to the posters.

  • Alan McDougall

    Just terrible! No other word for it. TERRIBLE. Except perhaps design drivel. With a lack of good bookshops on the high street why oh why do we have a Big Brother lowest common denominator. We have given up intelligence for the populist vote. So it is terrible but more it is the most ridiculous brand killer I have ever seen!

  • http://www.powdermillstudio.co.uk N B Reynolds

    Kind of like it and the flexibility it offers.

    I suspect they think it may appeal to a younger demographic.

    Have to say, infinitely better than the truly awful Creative Review rebrand (sorry CR).

  • Graham

    The w can just about be interpreted as a plan view of two upright books. Too generous?

  • http://www.julianknott.com Julian Knott

    May put off the older generation with the lack of tradition, but maybe that’s the point. I like it – it certainly updates and freshens its look and using the w in a number of different ways is a nice touch.

  • Michael

    Why exactly did they need the rebrand?

    It’s one of two book selling chains in the UK, Waterstones and WHSmith.
    They market is not overly saturated with other high-street rivals. They didn’t really need to reinvigorate as there was nothing essentially wrong with the previous identity. Yes old, yes serif, the exercise seems more like an attempt to modernize and make “hip” something which, yes unnoticeable, is part of the constant shared experience in British highstreet thought and shopping patterns. So, really, why?

  • http://blur-designs.net Frazer

    Seems more ready to embrace the future of books – digital. The following line ‘waterstones.com’ instead of ‘Waterstone’s’ shows they are adapting to the online market and reflecting the change in media ie. Kindle e-reader ect.

  • http://www.owenmorgs.com owen morgs

    i love the new brand logo – could have a lot of fun with it – but prefer the hogwartian-style image as it was very potter-esque! the old logo did reminded me of that comedy with bill bailey … ‘black books’. I strongly agree with pat … saggy boobs!

  • http://www.jshelley.com John

    It’s a massive let-down. Whatever it’s corporate nature, the older style brought a sense of classy intelligence to the high street, it made you feel you were entering a retreat, it dipped it’s cap towards the heritage of literature. This redesign renders the chain as a faceless chain, just like all the others.

  • olivia k

    agree, total fail!
    classless, without any originality, looks like “Wilson” (sport brand) or the m from mothercare upside down.it’s too late to be mordern….serif font may come back! useless! pointless, waste of money…!
    sorry this is my point of view!

  • http://www.TheArtOfAnimals.co.uk Karen@TheArtOfAnimals

    A boob in every sense of the word.

  • http://www.spaceandtimedesign.com Dave – Graphic Design Essex

    The new rebrand is an interesting one.

    What is vital in the analysis of the new logo is to know what it’s meant to achieve? What is it’s aim?

    One thought I have with this is that it now looks friendly, approchable and modern. For a high street shop, this is key. With the previous logo, although you have a strong brand with a sense of heritage and authority, there is also an underlying sense of exclusive and up market. And this, although subtle, may put off everyday people that want to buy books. This ‘up market’ look also gives a sense of expense, which is further off putting.

    The rebrand may not be about converting the brand from highstreet to online (although I’m sure this was considered). But i think it’s to simply make the store more open, approachable and friendly, to a customer base that is moving away from the highstreet. Look how well hmv are doing, and look at the branding they used to have. Overall, although the brand may not aesthetically look as good as the last, I think it does it’s job very well. And sometimes you have to bite the bullet to succeed.

  • http://www.AbsoluteKreative.com Parvinder Sondhi

    Aha it is a new logo for Waterstone…..!!

    Actually I was in Waterstone store early this week and I was thinking what is (W/UU) in store.

    What originally came to my mind is, Waterstone may have collaborated with UU Theory(www.uutheory.fi).

    I have just got the newsletter from CR that Waterstone is rebranded.

    New Waterstone logo is very very similar to UU Theory (www.uutheory.fi). They had run a competition on Facebook few weeks back and their logo is very very similar or almost same.

    Not sure, if branding team of Waterstone knew that UU Theory (www.uutheory.fi) have a very similar logo.

  • Ruan Milborrow

    There are some areas of business where it’s not ‘time for change’.

    This is one of them.

  • http://www.4muladesign.com Jamie Brightmore

    It looks weak. As many have pointed out above, it lacks the class previously projected with the serif version.

    The argument for making the company more friendly and approachable doesn’t wash with me. If anything, this makes them look less unique and more like the slew of trashy run-of-the-mill stores/websites out there who hold no real individuality, history, or quality.

    This year is fast becoming the year of epic re-brand failures, I can see two of them on this page.

  • http://www.springandmercer.co.uk Jay Flaxman

    Another brand looses it’s personality.

  • http://www.coconotestudio.com Januario Jano

    Oh dear, dear, looks don’t always fits specially when deal with brands…. the new logo is very trend but here is the question: what about the brand’s values?

    Not much thought on this new logo, it’s miss out the all identity of the brand and really doesn’t work sorry… just get the old logo back and it would be just ok… if the idea was to appeal to the current trends, well there are many different ways to do so without kill the brand values…

    just a tip…

  • Clare

    From a marketing point of view, with consumers still quite cautious and reverting back to brands that they know and trust, I’m concerned that it will estrange a lot of people who associate Waterstones with being a traditional, knowledgeable, reliable retailer. In some ways, a British classic.

    Think about the brands who have played up their history and time-tested reliability recently to draw in consumers. Familiarity is key to this and, to be frank, the new logo is very generic. It looks very ‘new’. I think they are throwing away a lot of what they have built up over the years.

    Perhaps a decent “Did you know Waterstones is online?”-esque campaign would’ve been a better option if they are concerned about online presence, mentioning that they have special online discounts and offers (because let’s face it, the important thing about online ordering is price, asides from delivery times).

    Feel Every Word is, in my opinion, a relevant and evocative line, but the visual concepts could have worked just as nicely with the serifed ‘W’. Let’s give it a quarter and see what it does for sales…

  • http://www.proposedesign.co.uk James Wallace

    Nice clean identity but very predictable. I’m sad to see the tradition of the old logo go without an influence on its predecessor. :(

  • Matt

    A bookseller with an unhealthy stranglehold on the publishing world and the highstreet is now displaying an insignia that suits them entirely.

  • Guy

    No. It’s a bad idea. Stop, stop …Too late – it’s done. Ah!

  • http://danielhowells.net Daniel

    Tim Waterstone must be LOL’ing (to use the parlance the new logo might suggest).

  • Tim

    I thought 2012 was bad enough! Not only do I think this unnecessary, the vast majority of reviewers seem to agree that it just dumbs the brand down. Waterstones is THE main high street bookshop, it already has a huge presence. Trying to appeal to an online market does not require a new identity but an embelishment of the existing iconic mark and the fluff around it to provide flexible consistency and confidence. As we all know, a brand is far more than a logo (2012 excepted of course). It will be interesting to see how it’s rolled out. I bet you could achieve it with the old one.

  • http://www.jillcalder.com Jill Calder

    I like it – and it seems it is so simple that some of you have missed the point – the sans serif lower case m looks like two (traditional) hardback books together when seen from above. It’s a bit like not seeing the arrow in the “boring” Fed Ex logo.

  • http://www.joeyteehan.com Joey Teehan

    Shocking. I am a gay man and who just sees large breasts. Awful. I quite liked the old Waterstones. Now it just looks tacky and cheap.

  • rachel

    I agree saggy boobs!!!

  • Mike

    @Jill Calder… Whether there is a couple of book spines hiding in the new logo or not doesn’t matter. That sort of thing is irrelevant gimmickry and not needed in a Waterstones rebrand.

    In my opinion it has lost it’s identity and any sense of individuality that it once had (logowise) at the expense of following the crowd and taking the easy and obvious option to forge a path to more online sales. Saying that it is just another huge corporate brand with probably little integrity anyway, and the new logo just confirms this.

  • frenchfrank


  • punk_chic

    venturethree must have someone working for them with the “gift of the gab”, cos someone, somewhere in waterstones has been completely had. It pails in comparison to the old one. Nevermind though, it’s not like they’ll be losing my business, i only ever went in there to use it like a research library, find what you want, take a picture of it and go buy it cheaper on amazon lol!

  • PS

    Is anyone else a bit bored of these evolving ‘flexible’ logo’s?

    Why not just design one good logo instead of ‘unlimited’ mundane versions?

  • Martin


  • http://paulfenn.com Paul Fenn

    Consider that the W is one of the more grandiose, dignified, interesting letters in the alphabet. It is after all made of two letters, and so is bigger, weightier than all others but the M, and takes up much real estate. It offers the imaginative designer an awful lot to work with. But this rebrand looks like it was done by a stoned 7th-grader in 1973. We used to call that look ‘donut writing’ back in jr. high. Looking at it I think Mr Lube, the old Mark’s Work Wearhouse logo (both here in Canada) and other utterly bland brands. I can picture the brief, the designers panicking their way through the creative process and the paranoid clients, terrified of fading away in the digital revolution/death of print/rise of yob/nobody reads times we live in, approving this piece of silly string. Still, if that wet noodle W is trying to be mainstream and unpretentious, it’s gone so far into the plebeian realm they can start selling discounted stale Twinkies in-store. Even if it is two books viewed from above, as one optimist above suggested, 8 people on earth will get that, and they’re all designers. The ads they did with the X-ray and such make the best, but imagine what they could’ve done with a proper, manly W. I feel sorry for everyone involved in this project. They must all feel like they just put down the long-beloved family dog, by strangulation.

  • Tony

    Dreary and pointless. What a shame

  • http://www.studiospooky.tv tim Spencer

    Note to all designers… we’ve got enough “logo as canvas for self expression’ concepts out there now thanks. Time to look for the next faddish solution.

  • Andy

    Oh no, waterstones have gone from classy to trashy. What a let down, the bold gold W will no longer stand proud above the doors of each store. Why change something that doesn’t need changing, what a waste of time and money. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE!!

  • Al

    Whatever the brief was, you are actually allowed to say no, you’re wrong.

  • http://www.leith.co.uk kenny

    i dont go into book stores and certainly wouldnt venture into a boring old fashioned waterstones where i would expect to find people in anoraks. however, this new identity is more emotive and modern and makes me think waterstones are going to make their stores more progressive, engaging and enjoyable places to be, which appeals. perhaps it could have had a tocuh more class about it, but im betting it does the job its meant to.

  • simon

    A pair of saggy breasts.

  • graham peake

    I sense the heavy hand of the client perhaps… if not its an opportunity missed for sure

  • estoy_lee

    This just doesn’t work for me at all. The typeface already looks dated, and will only get worse with time. Was the typeface a free one from Da Font??

  • http://www.greatmarketingworks.co.uk dan great marketing works

    I think the world has spoken – all fine points – this logo simply is faddish, non thought of the highest order. I wonder what their values are now :)

  • Thomas

    I love it! Clean, simple and modern. Just like books.

  • Fat Typo

    Interesting the amount of speculation about the move to a lineal font (sorry, a sans font) was in some way a “faddish” web-driven decision. Yet, by all accounts, the ‘new look’ for web is to embrace serif fonts, particularly with the latest font embedding technologies and improved browser quality…


    Personally, without having the benefit of sight of the brief, I can only react as a punter would and decide whether there was a positive (or negative) emotional connect with the branding compared to the old… er, no!

    Not only is there a disconnect between the brand and the consumer with this new identity, there’s one hell of a disconnect between the ‘w’ symbol and the name (now in the form of the url – so perhaps that really is the drive behind the re-brand!?!).

    I’m all for change (where would us designers be if everyone kept things the way they are), but I feel there was more relevance in the old identity, more dignity and now that equity has been sacrificed to appear a tad trendier. Shame!

    When is someone going to develop a font based on that superb Simpson Picadilly logo type? Even better than Houschka!

  • http://www.robmccarthy.co.uk Rob McCarthy

    I agree with Paul Bailey saying that we do not know the project brief that was supplied by waterstones. Venture would have done their research, testing and execution to a very high standard otherwise they wouldn’t get clients like waterstones. The logo has been executed visually very well but may not be targeted correctly. Is that venture threes fault or waterstones?

  • Dan

    Five things!
    1. I think it would be good to include a basic brief breakdown if possible from the studio who designed the new identity so that we can provide informed criticism.
    2. Waterstones may go online completely in the future but if their book stores remain on the high-street they I would imagine they need to become a more quality, almost a bespoke brand to survive- an aspirational name maybe on a much smaller scale, and I believe a serif and quality image would be important to keep. -Amazon can never really achieve that?
    3. I shop in Waterstones/Magma as a treat or guilty pleasure- as most designers / artists usually have to resist buying any more books so the dark wood and historical feel encapsulates you into something special, the new identity feels a bit sterile anonymous and temporary.
    4. Unfortunately I also use Waterstones to look at the books then buy them on Amazon cheaper! As most independent bookshops are closing down we need to look at how the high street can compete- I think the knowlege of the staff and in store experience is possibly just as important. Does this new identity communicate this personal service or does it look though you? Maybe go back to the original and announce a Heinz Salad Cream ‘we were going to take it away then bring it back’ marketing ploy and let everyone think of Waterstones with nostalgia and love…
    5. Like the images in the type and because its a long word a single W logo that can be used in a variety of ways is important.

  • Nick Collins

    The shape works well with the designs like the x-ray, but it doesn’t reflect what a good bookshop should be. It should have a rustic and vintage feel. This style works for HMV (hmv) as it’s more modern selling CD’s, DVD’s and Games etc. But whilst Waterstones sells mainly books, not netbooks, it should have stuck to its more classical roots.

    But hey, it’s got everybody talking hasn’t it, I guess that’s a good thing from their point of view.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ Dan

    See Mark’s update at the end of the post. We’ve been trying all day to get Venturethree to talk about the brief and strategy involved as it’s much better for readers to be informed about this before commenting. Unfortunately they are unable to comment as yet because they do not have client approval. This is, frustratingly, a frequent problem when it comes to new identities

  • http://www.propellerskies.com/ Smoove D

    Who buys books at stores anyway? I use Amazon. Anyway, the logo is boring.

  • http://www.jeanettedawson.co.uk Jeanette

    At first glance I loved it, and could see how flexible it would be, yet it seemed strange they should want to lose the much respected and well known branding that reflects calm and class. Quite brave really.

  • ben

    pointless. stupid, non recognizable, average, and a horrible font. simply not waterstones.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mikeyjwalker Mikey J Walker

    I tell you what I think will happen… everything will change over and look ‘slick’ for a while, there internet sales will increase because of it and then in five years time or so when it’s tierd they’ll bring back the original ‘W’ with a massive sales campaign and everyone will love it and yet again… waterstones will be what everyone will be talking about. Which in essence is exactly what they want.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  • Charles

    How is it that EVERY other company goes Sans-s in the last ten years and the designer masses flock to the defense of modernist minimalism,.. and then, shock!!, horror!!, .. another large brand follows suit and .. wait.. what?? Suddenly they are persecuted for moving after the tipping point? Or because they should stay put with a logo that was more recognisable for being out-of-date? How many of you self-righteous designers haven’t pulled out a logo based on Sans-s trends in the last 10 years?
    There is a constant overemphasis here on the serif being somehow more “connected”. It’s only “connected” because you made the connection over the history of the logo. Get over yourselves,..they’ve moved on,. they still looked dated?,.. GOOD!!! they always looked dated!! now they are dated for the next phase of this crazy market driven economy. The economy that gives you all a job. Now,.. the Creative Review masthead? anyone actually think that connects??

  • http://www.ogvidius.com Oggy

    I don’t really like it. It does look a lot like the hmv logo, which makes sense, but the Waterstones brand was really strong and didn’t need a big change in my opinion! The posters outside look good, but it just doesn’t look like a book shop logo!

  • http://ctaylor5uk.wordpress.com/ chris

    Not impressed, I liked the way Waterstones was different to most other ‘high street’ stores. I see this style all the time and it will distracts from the great books and relaxed feel.

  • Roger Mann

    It looks so much like a bottom that it’s just asking for graffiti additions. Big mistake. That’s got nothing to do with serifs, it’s the structure of the letterform; what were Venturethree thinking of?

  • Jay

    Looks like two books from above. Like the idea of rebranding for the new dawn of digital Reading but agree it could have been better. Curious to see the rejected concepts and how they arrived at this.

  • http://www.madebybig.com kevin blackburn

    The original has much more character. The new mark feels bland – the characters have no interesting features or detail and as a result lack pace. Doesn’t really reinforce the idea of feeling every word…

  • I like boobs (and butt)

    There’s nothing wrong with the the new W logo. It’s clean and simple. What is bad is the font used for the URL. already dated and cheap looking.

  • http://kathykavan.posterous.com/ Kathy Kavan

    The new logo doesn’t convey the authority of the original – I mean Im all for a san serif font myself but it is unnecessary for Waterstone’s brand online or offline. Maybe the last big bookshop left on the street thinks it has to update or die, but really if you can’t use a classic serif on an established bookshop brand then when can you? I guess VentureThree has a great rationale for the work, but the current rendering looks like every other fashionable ‘n’ flexible brand on the block. It’ll be out of date before this gets posted onto this articles comments list…

  • Moany McMoan

    ….it looks like a baby’s @rse. Unnecessarily modern for me. Waterstones sell books, not MP3s. Don’t actually mind the typeface that much, apart from the squashed up kerning. Are Waterstone’s going to close down all their shops located in listed buildings now, and re-locate to more modern premises?

  • http://www.webdesignkc.co.uk/ Victoria Blount

    It doesn’t seem like the re-branding for Waterstone’s has been very successful to me, i don’t think that using a sans serif font was the right move to update the brand, it has robbed Waterstone’s of the prestigious edge backed up by the literacy world that it promotes.

  • http://www.threerooms.com Ian Morris

    Melanie (above) seems right to me. A brand that is following market trends. Whether this is the right thing to do will be seen. My instinct tells me that they have lost some of the classic integrity that comes with the brand. Waterstones isn’t the HMV of bookstores is it, but a quality retailer!

  • Steve

    Pound-shop fugley

  • mark

    Why do brands think that anything web related has to be conveyed by a san-serif font?
    If anything with the likes of the ipad and crisp, clear computer screens, i’d expect serif fonts to have a revival through digital media – if you look at the likes of the new york times or wall street journal on the ipad you can see the beauty of a back lit serif font.


  • Adam

    Have The Works re-branded?

  • Adam

    Have The Works re-branded?

  • http://bipmistry.wordpress.com bip Mistry

    It’s the wrong ‘w’ because there’s ‘w’ and double u.

  • Iain

    Where’s the apostrophe gone? It’s ironic that a bookshop should reject proper spelling…

  • http://www.partnerssmr.com Alexa

    It is a shame to lose that classic logo. I hope the in-store experience doesn’t change too much. Waterstones is a bit like M&S for me – somewhere my mum likes to meet for coffee.

  • http://www.SomeOneInLondon.com Simon Manchipp



    For an audience of predominantly creative people, there’s an incredible rush to damn the new here.

    I thought as ‘agents of change’ the design industry should be open to and celebrate those ideas that finally get through. Heaven knows many don’t.

    I’d love to know how many of the critics on this blog have actually had to solve the challenge of a large high street organisation re-brand.

    There seems to a huge number of snipers shooting from the sidelines!

    Perhaps those that have worked on projects of a significant size need to speak up in defense of creative solutions such as this one.

    So here I go:

    Venture Three have rebranded another large high street brand with panache here.

    The multiple interpretations of the W is a flexible system that, with intelligent guardianship, will serve Waterstones well in describing the many facets of their offer to a broad church of audience.

    Most of all, this branding approach enables the visual brand identity to actually be useful, rather than a one dimensional single wordmark or badge.

    It’s a good strategy too. Rooting the brand firmly to the physical world trumps the Amazons of the sector. Bookshops are dying due to the overheads associated with high street presence — yet flicking through the physical product is a more satisfying experience that leads to more interesting discoveries.

    So I’d suggest we celebrate the new

    It’s a smart move on behalf of the brand to adopt a more rewarding visual brand identity

    And it nods at their business association with HMV (I’m guessing the HMV Group owned brand FOPP is next in line for a re-brand)

    Good work again from V3

    There’s a couple of other versions of V3s www here: http://www.venturethree.com/#/work/waterstones/waterstones/01

  • http://www.sipcom.com Glenn

    What V3 have forgotten is the brand equity, A poor attempt above to explain a poor execution.

  • Mike

    Utter rubbish and the strapline is just what they did for Sky HD “Feel everything”, Design is subjective but come on! If anyone ever saw the Argentina poster advertising Argies vs Brazil with type that showed the A of Argentina looking like it was about to enter the B of Brazil then you will see where waterstones could come a cropper from a gorilla campaign.

  • mata

    first what came into my mind swatch watches , “dont know why”… just looked at the new logo and name in the type and blink, swatch watch 😀

  • Dave Lovely

    Speaking as a Waterstone’s bookseller who buys the design books for the branch where I work, & who attended the company conference where the rebrand was presented, I like it. It seems a lot more flexible than the ‘heritage’ serif’d logo, & I think that ties in, not only with the different ways in which people are consuming books now, but also with the greater freedom accorded the company’s branches, in terms of instore promotions and what they buy. What it comes down to is there’s been an ideological shift within the company with the appointment of its new MD Dominic Myers, and the rebrand reflects that. In some ways, it’s more of an internal message than a public one.

  • jd

    no really it’s an upside down m from hmv

  • MB

    To me it no longer looks like a bookshop logo, could really be for anything (look at millets for example). I agree with most of the posts that this is certainly a step backwards for Waterstones. But to their credit it is a more honest approach as it now looks like any other faceless high street chain, not personal, intelligent and endearing as the old serif logo implied. As others mentioned I hope they also align the prices to compliment the new cheap logo.

  • James

    It looks absolutely terrible. And pointless.

    The tagline is also stupid and nonsensical.

  • Will

    Some things are just fine as they are. There was simply no need to change the Waterstones logo

  • http://www.design-vibe.co.uk SEO Norwich

    I agree – what a shame. The change seems like a real step down, not encouraging at all.

  • http://www.16i.co.uk/web-design/mobile-websites.htm Ed / 161

    I like what they did with the shop windows – it looks like they took a leaf out of Google’s book with their daily changing homepage designs. Rebradning needn’t be negaitive – brands like this need to stay ahead of the game, and let’s face it – how long do paper-based books have left?

  • http://www.leemasondesign.com Lee Mason

    This is criminal!

  • http://www.g3creative.co.uk Andy Wallis

    This new Waterstones identity (upside down m) is a missed opportunity and a let down.

  • Stuart Smith

    Thank god, they never pursued it. I can’t believe they would of invested money in getting a “professional” designer to produce that. I hope they kept the receipt.

  • Richard Gilbert

    I don’t think that using a sans serif font was the right move to update the brand. Great post thanks for sharing.