Gee Whillickers!

Modern Marks, Modern Times

These days, there is a controversial aspect to logo design and branding involving the difference between distinctive symbology and generic, pictorial representation. New 3D logo renditions really get this argument frothing because the mark becomes more and more literally represented as a picture of a thing rather than a symbol that implies it. But, despite what traditionalists might say, the incredible advancements in creating, printing and displaying stellar graphics are a fact that designers and branding pros must embrace, for better or worse.

1961 – The original logo was designed by the famous graphic designer Paul Rand (born Peretz Rosenbaum), who intentionally selected a new first and last name for himself with the same number of characters in each, for balance.

The positioning of the bow-tied package might seem odd; and actually the global shipper has refused packages tied with string for the past few decades because they jam up the sorting machines, but the iconic impression of a personal touch must have been worth it.

2003 – The new logo makes a big commitment to a 3D rendering, with apparently no line art version. The design is more badge-like, strong, but not too hard; a nice complement to the good guy image of their “brownie” servicemen. The top now has an oft-used swoosh implying dynamism, direction and speed.

Apparently the use of the 3D logo on the livery of their planes was a very tough application.

Follow the bouncing ball. AT&T Inc., formerly SBC Communications (born Southwestern Bell Co.), SBC opted to stick with the AT&T brand, though now it’s at&t.

1984 – Renowned designer Saul Bass created the original AT&T logo when the nationwide phone monopoly Bell System was broken up into several “Baby Bells.” It conveys a marvelous impression of spherical depth simply using 12 tapering lines, which signalled the company’s international and digital position. The mark achieved a remarkable 93% recognition rate in the U.S.

1999 – The logo goes on a diet and gets a tan. More literal now, the mark went from 12 lines to 8 with some shading that says, “Hey, in case you didn’t guess, I’m a globe.” The huge influence of the Internet must have been a major design consideration.

The striated lines of Bass’ original logo really start to suffer in the pixel-based medium of computer screen displays.

2005 – The original launch of this logo design required the viewer to mentally complete the globe shape, but shading was added to define it.

The 3D design raises the minimum printing requirements and the “transparency” effect on the logo is a tricky proposition for lower-grade printing and small sizes online and in print. The contrast in the see-through cyan bands was increased from the original design to help with this difficulty.

Oddly, the logo retains the tapering aspect of the lines but they only make sense unless referenced against the old logo.

Inspired Ideas!

Hard to Get More 3D Than This

Ambient advertising. The recently coined term refers to almost any kind of advertising that occurs in a non-standard medium, normally out of doors. Some examples are ads or slogans placed at the bottom of golf holes, on manhole covers, across shopping cart handles or huge applications like large-format murals on the sides of buildings, on hot air balloons and airplane-drawn banners.

Original? – 2002



Original? – 2005

Original? – 2005

Original? – 2001