Everything changes. What do you think this whole crazy evolution theory mumbo jumbo is about anyway? If there are any certainties in life, a bigly one is that things will change.
So, it is reasonable to assume this sentiment can be applied to branding problems, too. Brands need to grow and change with the times to continue to be relevant, attract new customers and change as their current customers do. Totally makes sense.
The latest butterfly to burst from the chrysalis is WW, the brand formally known as Weight Watchers.
Like everything else on the planet, page after page of commentary for and against the rebranding can be found online as the critics weigh in. (I’ll quit with the puns at some point.) I do not intend to tread the same ground, rather my intent is to get designers to take a closer look at the things you while redesigning a logo and carefully look at the meanings we bake into our work.
There are many instances of clever use of negative space to add more meaning to an otherwise simple design. One of the most famous being the FedEx logo. If you scroll through the inter-web you are sure to come across stories from the design team regaling their genius in building the letterforms around the arrow created by the negative space between the “E” and the “x”.
Dig deeper and you will find that the “easter egg” so carefully crafted was actually a happy accident, that it was only discovered after the typeface had been chosen and the designers began toying around with it. Further, this arrow reportedly was a huge topic of debate that almost killed the entire design because the arrow points to the right. This detail is great when the logo is on the right-hand side of the delivery truck because it is pointed forward, but not so good according to FedEx execs when displayed on the left-hand side because the arrow is pointing backwards. Not a positive connotation for speedy deliveries.
Obviously, FedEx got over it and zillions of logos with the hidden arrow have since been splattered across the planet.
Unfortunately, WW fell into a similar trap.
I understand Weight Watchers’ desire to change their brand from “diet” to “wellness” (a terrible word, by the way.) It broadens the company’s offering and creates the opportunity to reach people who want to be fit but not have the whole diet thing hanging over their heads.
But look at the logo and its unintended easter egg. There are arrows created but the negative space in the diagonal strokes of the W’s. They point up and down.
Unlike the FedEx execs who approved their new logo despite initial reservations, these WW guys should be flogged for making this choice. Weight yo-yo-ing up and down is a primary cause of so many health issues from the obesity epidemic to heart disease, particularly here in the USA. The logo communicates this message on a very subtle level.
All is not well that ends well.