Where’s the ka-pow!?

The way people consume content is not just changing rapidly, but it has already changed significantly. DC Comics – adapting to the moving world and thus expanding onto other platforms; other areas where the brand needed to live – turned to world-class branding agency, Landor, to create an identity “built for a digital age”. As a DC spokesperson said in the press release, “it’s not often a company gets to revisit something as important as its brand and we took the opportunity to make sure it represented the multi-media business we set out to build with the formation of DC Entertainment”. And, whether you love it or loathe it, the new identity has been subject to strong debate across the web.

Responding to an initial email with a link to the Under Consideration article and a simple request, “thoughts?”, 18 subsequent emails were shared within MB over the weekend. The overwhelming sentiment amongst the group was that the new logo lacked excitement. As James Bull wrote, “Where is the “good fight”, the “do right”, and the “strength from adversity”?”. Ben Wolstenholme responded to say that the logo felt more like a peeling sticker, than a reveal “inviting you in to a world of creativity, escapism, wonder and invention”. Ben’s comment echoes the Under Consideration post, which berates DC Comics for not leveraging their access to “some of the best illustrators in the planet”. Evidently, the group felt that an opportunity to convey the power and emotion of visual storytelling has been sadly missed.

The ‘peel’, described in the DC Comics press release as representing “the duality of the iconic characters”, was also hotly debated. Generally it was felt that it exclusively suggested the print aspect of comics. In an excellent post on Google+, Tom Muller also questioned the slightly old-school approach, “Why does a logo aimed at moving image, and more importantly portable devices, use the equivalent of a page flip? Surely there are more interesting visual cues appropriate for the ‘digital age?”. Mat Heinl worried that the identity ceded any sense of control from both the creators and the fans, “Everything I see here implies a publisher doing just enough to stay in the old game, old solutions to new creative, tech and business opportunities”. As Ben Wosltenholme concluded, “the story it’s telling says ‘turn’ instead of ‘thrill’.”

The DC spokesperson was not wrong when he commented on the rarity of revisiting a brand. Doing so should not only set the path for the brand going forward, but also re-connect it with the path of its evolution. It appears that, in focusing purely on ensuring DC Comics was fit to “represent a multi-media business”, the stories, fans, characters and fantasies behind it got forgotten. Because, while the ways comics are read and shared has changed, the fans’ and creators’ dedication and love of storytelling is the same.. The chance for DC Comics to build story, excitement and drama into their identity seems regrettably amiss. Clark Kent might prefer the gentle reveal of a peel, but Superman would rather burst, fist-first into the sky.