A Logo is a Logo is a Logo…

They famously sparked the usual rebranding debate in 2010 when Waterstones changed their logo from the traditional serif W to a rounded sans serif. It was linked to a campaign ‘feel every word’ – and the typography that ensued always struck me as uncomfortably familiar to Unilever, rebranded by Wolff Olins.

Waterstones rebrand 2010

Feel every word… I feel the world ‘familiarity’

Waterstones Logo 2010

Familiar concept? Compare it to the Unilever brand…

Unilever branding

Plagiarism is a form of flattery…

Early this year they have undergone a backward revolution, I suppose, by abandoning the sans serif FS Alberta Pro back to Baskerville and by dropping the apostrophe. Perhaps it got a bit crowded in the logo marketplace when even Tesco adopted that visual type style.

Tesco welcome typography

Another Unilever inspired brand visual…

It’s an interesting decision by the brand owners, and a somewhat brave step to go ‘back to the roots’.

Waterstones brand evolution

From brand evolution to brand revolution – and back again…

They did however still keep that very Unilever style, now on the new old type.

VentureThree rebrand of Waterstones

VentureThree sticks to the Unilever branding approach…

With all this happening, one can excuse the shop owner of the bookstore chain for struggling to keep up with the latest brand guidelines! This Birmingham outlet seems to believe that if in doubt, stick them all on the shop front – something for everyone…


Brand confusion? If in doubt, stick them all on!

Perhaps the brand guidelines never made it up to Birmingham, or perhaps there is a hidden message here – but it makes me smile in disbelief that such an established brand can allow a clash of identities…

About Regine Wilber

Brand strategist and designer with a passion for all things surrounding brand creation, design and management - and social media.
This entry was posted in Brand Management, Brand Strategy, Branding, Graphic Design, Typography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Logo is a Logo is a Logo…

  1. stevemorton says:

    Did you not notice the sand bags? Tell me oh wise one… where in the brand guidelines does it include sand bags as part of the brand identity……

    • Hehe, I think the sandbags and other flooding gear are a sad sign of the failings of the great British summer! I think you are a bit better off in France! Thanks for reading…

  2. Alison says:

    They probably can’t keep up with the cost of keep changing the signage – it’s an expensive business! I prefer the new (old) version.- but don’t get me started in apostrophes …

  3. Ian West says:

    I always used to make the observation to my clients that the best identities are not necessarily the best designed, but the most consistent – the best policed. McDonalds is never likely to win any design awards – but it takes just a glimpse to identify.
    However, due to the demise of the majority of the UK’s high street book shops, Waterstones does not have to try very hard – and sadly, I am prepared to work hard to look for that big ‘W’ to get my hands on a real book.

    • I totally agree! It’s just a shame they don’t appear to be proud if it any more in a sense – at least that’s what it looks like if they are using any odd logo on their shop front. Thank you for commenting!

  4. interacter says:

    Wow – sad stuff indeed.

    To me, this points to a company without a clue, desperately trying to cement their place in a rapidly changing environment where books are becoming commodities.

    Personally, I don’t think that any of the work is ‘right’ for the brand. But then they’ve got deeper problems than what their logo looks like, judging by the instore performance of my local branches…

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