Has anyone else been baffled by some of Pentagram's re-branding work in recent years?
What they seem to be really good at doing is to strip existing logos of all personality and/or equity and replace it with shapes and fonts that say little to nothing about the brand.
This Mastercard rebrand is a perfect example. It now looks like a childrens toy company. I would never ever get the feeling from this logo that it represents a powerful, global, financial organization. Unless Mastercard is purposefully pivoting into less serious business, it's frankly not an honest or useful mark.
Maybe some marketing guru wanted their logo update to be "more welcoming to Millenials." That's usually the notion behind moving to lowercase sans serif. The problem with that is Mastercard isn't a local pet store or cool start-up. This font simply isn't an appropriate choice to represent the company.
Has the concept of a logo actually representing the core of a brand become an unnecessary burden?
Pentagram seems to have a singular goal: make every logo into something "modern" and "simple" — regardless of context.
Another recent Pentagram re-brand for Verizon reminds of a similar, but slightly different idea: there's a difference between bad and boring. The former logo was, by design standards, definitely bad. The rebrand, while successfully simplifying and modernizing the mark, is just boring.
It's like when a person is convinced that by simply wearing fashionable clothes, they will magically become more interesting and relevant. Unless the person becomes more interesting and relevant, the clothes are merely a guise to hide behind or to distract with.
I'm aware that as a designer I'm expected to applaud any effort to modernize design, especially when done by a legendary studio like Pentagram. But I'm just not feeling it. If the goal of graphic design is to maximize the effectiveness of communication, then certainly a logo must do the same for brands.
Sometimes I'd honestly take the bad logo over the boring logo because it is a more interesting, memorable, and convincing representation of the brand.
As a final note, here's another recent Pentagram rebrand which falls into this same conversation:
happy to hear the opinions of people who totally disagree with this sentiment!