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…

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. 

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