Put a stop to it

The NSPCC recently retired its full stop but for many brands punctuation has a subtlety that can still wield some impact, says Michael Evamy

The poor full stop. A punctuation mark couldn’t be more unfashionable. In social media, text and instant messaging, this black dot is a bête noire – a mark that, in its apparent lack of frivolity and commitment to minimum standards of grammar, seems to cast a pall over online conversations and interactions. Hemingway, Chandler and other lovers of rapid-fire sentences would be smashing their smartphones in horror.

Full stop followers will be sad to see the baseline dot fall further out of favour with a recent change to the NSPCC’s logo. The decision to drop the large green full stop that has been the focus of its identity for over a decade signals a major change of strategic direction for the UK’s leading children’s charity.

The big green dot marked the start of the NSPCC’s hugely successful Full Stop campaign, which ran until 2008. Powerful advertising and jarring lines like ‘Together we can stop child abuse. FULL STOP’ helped to raise £250m for the charity and put child abuse firmly on the public agenda. Issues that were once only discussed behind closed doors are now aired regularly in the media, with a seemingly continuous stream of harrowing stories and high-profile prosecutions.

But income and support have been falling. The job of awareness-raising has been done; from now on, the charity will talk more about what can be done to prevent child abuse, and the life-changing work that it carries out. Its new brand “will also ensure that we’re much more squarely in the world of the ‘normal’ family,” said Paul Farthing, the charity’s fundraising director, in The Guardian.
The charity’s in-house creative team developed a brighter, more diverse colour palette, a new tone of voice, and its own font – a more rounded version of Jeremy Mickel’s Fort typeface, for extra ‘warmth’ – to project the more positive, family-friendly brand.

Just because the full stop has gone from the new, more upbeat NSPCC mark, its forcefulness and seriousness no longer required, let’s hope its days of adding weight to logotypes aren’t at an end. It’s been fashionable in recent times to ornament wordmarks with punctuation marks such as colons, semi-colons, brackets, quote marks and accents, sometimes with powerful effect, often with no good reason. The full stop may be the smallest in size, but it is by far the most eloquent.

A full stop after a brand name turns it into the definitive, the last word. When Deloitte & Touche gathered all of its consulting and accountancy businesses under one Deloitte master brand, Enterprise IG’s understated logo of simply the name followed by a full stop signified ‘the complete firm’. Angus Hyland’s logotype for the healthy fast-food chain, EAT., drew added impact by adding a full stop to a verb, turning the name into a command.

In slogans and straplines, it’s almost unheard of to include a full stop at the end, but the impact can be dramatic. ‘Just do it’ doesn’t do it. ‘Just do it.’ does, and has lasted 26 years.

Gravitas, assertiveness and finality may not have a place in the twitter of social media but the full stop can still pack a punch in branding. Hemingway would be all in favour.

Michael Evamy is a copywriter and the author of Logo and Logotype, published by Laurence King (mini versions coming in 2015). His work can be found at evamy.co.uk, tweets via @michaelevamy

 

 

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