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Michael Bierut

The Final Days of AT&T



Identity for AT&T, Saul Bass, 1984

From a press release dated October 27, 2005:

SBC Communications Inc. today announced it will adopt AT&T, Inc. as its name following completion of its acquisition of AT&T, which is expected in late 2005.

The decision is a milestone in the history of telecommunications, extending the reign of a global icon. AT&T is inextricably linked to the birth and growth of the communications industry, delivering ground-breaking innovations that enabled modern computers and electronic devices, wireless phones and Voice over IP (VoIP). The brand also has represented quality service, integrity and reliability for more than 120 years.

At close, the new company will unveil a fresh, new logo. After completion of the merger, the transition to the new brand will be heavily promoted with the largest multimedia advertising and marketing campaign in either company's history, as well as through other promotional initiatives.

So take a long, last look at Saul Bass's finest moment. AT&T will live on, but its logo is about to disappear.

American Telephone & Telegraph was founded in 1885 as a subsidiary of Alexander Graham Bell's Bell Telephone Company to create a long-distance network for Bell's local operating companies. In 1915, AT&T opened transcontinental telephone service essentially wiring the United States, and added service to Cuba in 1921, Great Britain in 1927, and Japan in 1934. Along the way, AT&T acquired the assets of the Bell Company, became the parent of the operating companies of the Bell Telephone System, opened Bell Laboratories (birthplace of the transistor and UNIX), introduced the modem, launched the first commercial satellite and, with a near monopoly on American telecommunications, became largest corporation in the world.

From the start, there had been a perfect confluence between the inventor's name and the sound his product made. Best of all, unlike so many other brand names, it was a word that could be represented with a simple picture. The first Bell logo — a realistic drawing of a bell with "Long Distance Service" written on it, created by Bell manager Angus Hibbard — appeared in 1889. It would have this form for over 75 years, with more writing around the bell ("American Telephone & Telegraph Co./Bell System/And Associated Companies") and on it ("Local and Long Distance Service"), all enclosed, after 1900, in a circle. Revisions were made periodically and many of the nearly two dozen operating companies came up with their own variations.

In 1968, Saul Bass was hired to bring order to the system, and created a classic modern identity program. In Nixon-era America, Bass's simplified bell-in-circle logo, rigorous Helvetica-based typographic system and ochre-and-process blue color scheme became as familiar as the Coca-Cola signature. It was the ideal graphic analog for a phone system that was hailed as the best in the world, a virtually indestructable monopoly posing as a public utility: Ma Bell, utterly reliable and as ubiquitous as air.

But nothing lasts forever, even notionally benevolent monopolies. So everything changed in 1982, when AT&T and the U.S. Justice Department agreed to settle an antitrust suit that had been filed against the company eight years before. AT&T agreed to divest itself of its local telephone operations, and seven independent "baby Bells" came into place. This was a gold rush for identity designers. Gone were the Bell logo, the ochre-and-blue stripes, and familiar names like Ohio Bell and Wisconsin Telephone, names as sturdy and plainspoken as the telephones that Henry Dreyfus had designed for Bell since 1930. On New Year's Day, 1984, Americans awoke to a world in which their telephone service would be provided by newly-minted entities with fanciful monikers like Ameritech, USWest, and Pacific Telesis.

AT&T did not cease to exist. On the contrary, not only would it continue its traditional activities as a long-distance service provider, it was now at liberty to pursue business that had been off-limits in its quasi-monopolistic days. Saul Bass was called back to design the identity that would represent AT&T in this post-divestiture new world order.

And Bass was ready. I've heard from more than one person that Bass had tried without success to sell a striped globe logo to several previous clients (or even "every client that came along" as one insider told me). This may not be true, but there is no doubt that Bass liked round logos with horizontal stripes: witness Continental Airlines and Minolta, to name two. But with the new AT&T, he had at last the big client ready for the big idea. Their logo would be nothing but a sphere, a circle crossed with lines modulated in width to create the illusion of dimensionality. And this client bought it, perhaps because like the bell, this new, seemingly abstract image had a reassuringly literal meaning; at AT&T's online brand center, the logo is described as "a world circled by electronic communications." It's not just a logo, it's a picture of a globe girded by wires and cables. Some people saw even more: in some circles, the sphere was nicknamed the "The Death Star."

Despite Bass's logo, after 1984, nothing was stable again in the telecom business. I have some first hand experience with the early days of AT&T's divestiture, since my wife Dorothy's first job in New York in 1980 was working for AT&T. Or rather, she was hired by AT&T, but actually went to work for one of the corporation's operating units, New York Telephone. Without changing desks or jobs, in the next few years she worked for something called American Bell, which in turn had its name changed to AT&T Advanced Information Systems, and then finally NYNEX. (If she had saved some of her American Bell business cards, she might be making a pretty penny on eBay today: the company lasted only a few months before the Justice Department ruled that no AT&T entity could use the Bell name; this makes an American Bell card the corporate design equivalent of an Inverted Jenny postage stamp.) After she left, NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic to create Verizon, which some people say has the worst logo in the world.

And now, after 20 years of telecom chaos, SBC Communications, Inc., a descendent of Southwestern Bell, is taking over its former parent company: the child becomes the father to Ma, as it were. Their brand strategy lets them have their cake and eat it too. By retaining the AT&T name ("...an iconic name...amazing heritage...tremendous strength." - Alan Siegel, Siegel and Gale), they signal continuity. By replacing the Bass sphere with a "fresh, new logo," they signal vitality and change. Who's going to argue with that?

A moment of silence, please. On October 23, 1963, demolition began on New York City's Pennsylvania Station. The controversy over the destruction of this McKim, Mead & White masterpiece effectively launched the historic preservation movement in this country. Today, the proposed demolition of buildings of even questionable architectural merit provokes outcry.

Graphic design, unlike architecture , leaves no footprint. When one of the best known logos in the world disappears overnight, the only hole created is in our collective consciousness. By New Year's Eve, Saul Bass's sphere will be no more. Will anyone mourn — or protest — its passing?

Posted in: Branding, Design History, Reputations

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Comments [129]
Michael:

I sent out a MASS email to Bass Alumni, and was hoping Jerry The King Kuper would appropriately respond.
Since Jerry and Brenda Ehlert was responsible for Illustrating Saul Bass' AT&T Identity.

This is a conversation I recently had with Jerry and Maestro Tony Spaeth. At the same time sending them the pdf from Siegel & Gale.
Furthermore sending an article from the Denver Post sent to me by Mr. Thomas Ruzicka former Design Manager of AT&T 1968-1984.

Inasmuchas I respect Alan Siegel and his analysis of SBC and AT&T Merger. Preserving the Sphere Identity is just as SANE as keeping the Initials. Arguments can be made effectively for both. As AT&T Inc and the Symbol, together The Corporate Signature has the most equity between the two entities, SBC and AT&T . Fact of the Matter, I agree in the Respect a new Identity Signals a Fresh Start. That's common consensus among knowledgeable Identity Designers and Consultants. Modifications can be commenced on the Sphere to update its appearance. Fact of Matter, Identity Design has Sunk below ASSHOLE Level and very few Identity Consultancies do it well. Most Bulldoze First and Ask Questions Later.

I haven't been impressed with any of the Revitalizations or Identities of recent except Pentagram's revitalization of United, David Weinberger's Revitalization of United Way
and Gene Grossman's Identity for the World Trade Center Foundation. To include, Siegel & Gale whom Preserved Saul Bass' Girl Scout Identity with only changing the Typography. Realizing they couldn't create a more Effective and Memorable Identity.

Its amazing NO Identity Council has been named. With SBC's track record in Identity Council, one would think Fleishman Hilliard has been retained again. A bit of Sarcasim to say the least.

The current SBC Identity is the worst in History not Verizon.

I think the story of Bass trying to sell a Striped Identity is Made up. I've been Kicking it with Super Lou Danziger for the last couple of weeks and Mr. Danziger has informed me Saul Bass was without question the BEST Salesman of Design in History.

In Fact he told me no one could resist Saul. I'm sure like all of us he faced some rejection.

Only Howard York, Jerry Kuyper, Brenda Ehlert or Lindon Leader can confirm or deny that TALL TALE.

I think the story is Fabricated. Because Bass sold several Stripped Identities beginning with Ducommon Inc, and subsidiaries, Super-Temp, Explosive Technologies, Kierulff Electronics. Continental (as you stated) and MINOLTA. were also stripped Identities. The AT&T Identity was the most IMITATED and Ripped Off Identity in the History of Visual Communication. Everybody Copied or Plagiarized Saul Bass Information Bit Striations. The AT&T Identity was more Bastardized than the Swoosh. Another Identity Bass created along with others before Carolyn Davidson.

Legend has it there were more Bell System and AT&T Corporate Vehicles than the United States Army had Jeeps Worldwide.

Without question it was and still is the Largest Corporate Identity Program in History.

Will anyone mourn — or protest — its passing?

I'm already in MOURNING. This is a Travesty and Disgrace that AT&T was continually Financially Raped and mis-managed throughout the years.

There is not an existing Identity to Compete with AT&T except IBM (a Paul Rand Identity). My all time Favorite was The Bell System Identity. Followed by IBM and AT&T. All three the most OMNIPOTENT and UBIQUITOUS Identities in History.

Thank GOD I've got all the Identity Manuals.

Rest assure the Identity replacing AT&T will be Pale in Comparison and Laugable at BEST.

DM
DesignMaven
10.29.05
10:19

I've been an SBC hostage, er, customer for almost 11 years now. I was mildly distressed when SBC bought the remains of AT&T because it just didn't seem right. It was as if Wal-Mart had acquired Nieman-Marcus. (OK, maybe a little exaggeration there, but it did seem like a cheapening of AT&T.)

I shuddered when I read "fresh, new logo." I could hear Dogbert in my head saying "no good can come from this."

But I guess time will tell. Maybe SBC will come up with some fabulous new logo and brand identity for the new! improved! AT&T.

Still, it doesn't seem right. I know that SBC techically paid for AT&T, but it still seems as though something has been stolen.

Matt Rife
10.30.05
09:58

To be honest: Th AT&T-logo really can inhale some fresh air. It smells like 80ies to me, this soundwave-metaphor and this rock-steady, solid grotesque typo. Let's move on to some modern approach.
And - hey! - which high-tech company's log is NOT blue. Yawn!
Zep
10.30.05
12:48

What's worse than a bad logo?
A bad logo at banquets......

http://www.signatureice.com/gallery-Pages/Image50.html

God rest you, Saul.
lehze
10.30.05
01:10

Compaq's logo was red, Zep! Oh, wait...never mind. :-)
Matt Rife
10.30.05
02:47

You are right Matt. It WAS red, now it's HP-blue.
Zep
10.30.05
03:15

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Metropolis in which I applied the tenets of historic preservation (traditionally reserved for architecture) to graphic design. Included were "landmarks" that were seemingly safe (the $1 bill, the "Anthora" Greek coffee cup), some that were threatened (like Massimo Vignelli's MTA signage, now in disrepair), and some that had already been lost, notably Paul Rand's UPS logo, which was in some ways the impetus for the piece.

But this loss might be an even bigger one, if only for the fact that Bass' AT&T logo was so ubiquitous--and so emblematic of its times. Is there no way for us to lay down in front of the bulldozers this time? Of course, Pennsylvania Station was lost, but because of that loss Grand Central Terminal was saved (along with countless other historic structures since). Which piece of graphic design needs to go away for everyone to understand how big a part of our shared culture it really is?

And besides, what better logo could they come up with than this one? While I could see ways to improve the typography, the symbol itself is even more appropriate now--a time in which the Justice Department approves enormous mergers like these with impunity--than twenty years ago, when the symbol acted more as a modernized memorial to a deconstructed monopoly. Besides, we're already deep into the 1980s revival, so it's got the nostalgia factor going for it too.

What will they replace Bass' symbol with? Will it be one of those friendly "hand-drawn" logos, employed to project a false relationship with customers? Or a stripped-down "polyester Modernist" typographic identity? Will the sharp-edged pseudo-fascism of the Verizon logo become a trend among telecom conglomerates? In any case, we should remember that Bass' classic replaced a classic as well, so let's see what happens. Hey, who is doing the new logo, anyway?
Scott Stowell
10.30.05
04:06

Hey, who is doing the new logo, anyway?

I know, but can't say. Yet. I don't think. I've sent the team an e mail and will leave disclosure to them... in the interim, what about comments like DM's:

"Rest assure the Identity replacing AT&T will be Pale in Comparison and Laugable at BEST."

Whew. I'd hate to be on this jury. You havent even seen the evidence! Sheesh. Frankly, I think it needs to go away. Sure, we all loved it when it came out- I did too- but its been ripped so many times that the entire striped globe - and letters ala IBM- category needs to be carted off to the morgue. Tired of it. Its done. Over. While we're at it lets scrap all the Swooshes and gradients too. I'm sick of em.

I look forward to seeing the new mark. If I had to bet money I'd say its going to be as good as Bass's mark when it came out in 82.
felix sockwell
10.30.05
05:03

Bass's AT&T mark has one advantage over anything that will replace it: it already exists. This counts for something in the world of corporate identity. Anything new will surrender all that equity, return to square one, and compete for attention with all those other telecom marks out there.

It's not an insurmountable advantage, of course. SBC's promise that "the new brand will be heavily promoted with the largest multimedia advertising and marketing campaign in either company's history" makes it sound like they're ready to do whatever it takes to put it over. It will be interesting to see what happens.

If you sense regret in my original article, it's that graphic design is so often viewed as the easiest thing in the world to change. I wonder if the as-of-yet-unidentified design consultant has suggested leaving it alone. Despite our sense that we're all contributing to what Scott Stowell calls "our shared culture," most of us are all too quick to send anyone else's contribution off to the trashheap.
Michael Bierut
10.30.05
05:59

Well said Michael!!!!!

Scott:

And besides, what better logo could they come up with than this one?

In any case, we should remember that Bass' classic replaced a classic as well, so let's see what happens.

Hey, who is doing the new logo, anyway?

Scott, all legitimate questions and concerns.
Apparently,from the Press Report SBC is already working with an Identity Council, which has remain un-named.
Or they are already Developing Concept with an Internal Identity Manager. Highly DANGEROUS for SBC since CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. didn't get it RIGHT the First time with Fleishman Hillard a St. Louis based Public Relations Firm Designed the Current SBC Identity. The former incarnation was Southwestern Bell Designed by Saul Bass. Appropriately Managed by former CEO Zane Barnes when Whitacre came aboard he Destroyed the Southwestern Bell Identity and revitalized it to the current Horrid Identity SBC. The same GUY Ed Whitacre Jr. is at the Helm of the Ship Again. Trying to convince Ed Whitacre he has made a Terrible Decision is akin to Re-arranging Deck Chairs on the TITANIC.

Scott, for your personal Edification The Bell System Identity 1969 was Designed by SAUL BASS. AT&T was Designed by Bass. He Designed Both Identities. As well, all the Subsidiaries until Divestiture.

We can stop this, by Uniting as Designer(s) Fighting for a Common Cause. United We Stand Divided We Fall!!!!!

We all can write Ed Whitacre and innundate SBC with Post Cards Letters and Telephone Calls to convince SBC they are making a GRAVE MISTAKE!!!!

My solution the Person that Actually put Pencil to Paper on this Identity is Alive and Well.
His name is Jerry The King Kuyper who actually Illustrated the AT&T Identity for SAUL BASS.

The Identity should be given back to Jerry Kuyper with the Original Team for Slight Modification to include HOWARD YORK, Design Manager Bass Yager, Brenda Ehlert a Senior Designer at Bass Yager and LINDON LEADER a Senior Designer at Bass Yager, also Designer and Creative Director of one of the Top Three (3) Current Identities Worldwide. Which is FEDEX

For Ideation, Development and Concept I'd commission; JOE FINOCHIARO; DON ERVIN; GENE GROSSMAN; PAULA SCHER; MICHAEL BIERUT; and ROGER VAN DEN BERGH.

Identity Council should ultimately be Super Lou Danziger whom has consulted with more Corporations as Identity Council than any Designer Living. And Maestro Tony Spaeth.
That's MY DREAM TEAM!!!!!!!

DM

P.S. Felix, I suspect its One of the Usual Suspects and have an Idea Myself. You know, whether you admit it or not. As an Identity Designer like the rest of us most Bonafide Identity Designer(s) are now Independent.
Unless an Identity Consultancy Commissioned the work from an OLD HAND. I don't Envision anything Revolutionary that has not already been done!!!!!!

Felix, you're Defending the NEW IDENTITY like its your BABY!!!!!!!!

What's UP???
DesignMaven
10.30.05
06:37

This comment seems to sum up the general reaction thus far: Is there no way for us to lay down in front of the bulldozers this time?

This has to be the most laughable thing ever said on a design blog.

I'm sure you're all correct: the new identity will be abominable. Meanwhile tens if not hundreds of graphic designers will take home paychecks paid by this job, not to mention the money paid out to printers, livery-makers, signmakers and the like. Corporations both new and historic will have one more example for change when considering changing their own identity (and thus hiring, like, more graphic designers or something).

No, far better that a comfortable collective cynicism borne of self-published righteousness and coddled in nostalgia reign over the landscape of design, wherein corporations are sacred and taste crystallizes then atrophies somewhere around the mid-50s or mid-70s or mid-90s. Take your pick as long as it's not the future. Bottom line: If it doesn't last, it just wasn't good enough. Or else the CEO is an idiot, maybe he's to blame.

Don't worry, there will be a next time for the bulldozers.
Daffy
10.30.05
07:23

Scott, for your personal Edification The Bell System Identity 1969 was Designed by SAUL BASS. AT&T was Designed by Bass. He Designed Both Identities.

I know--Bass' Bell System logo was another one of the lost "design landmarks" I covered in my Metropolis article. As for those who didn't know, Michael made that clear in his original post.

Is there no way for us to lay down in front of the bulldozers this time?

This has to be the most laughable thing ever said on a design blog.

That's quite an honor. Thanks, "Daffy."

I'm sure you're all correct: the new identity will be abominable. Meanwhile tens if not hundreds of graphic designers will take home paychecks paid by this job, not to mention the money paid out to printers, livery-makers, signmakers and the like.

As I said, we all need to wait and see. But if the new identity's principal benefit is that some people will make money off of it, then that's not saying much, is it?
Scott Stowell
10.30.05
08:28

Scott, with all due respect, you gave us plenty of evidence to infer that you meant "let's wait and see" how bad the new identity is.

Or did I misread the tone of disdain in such comments as "what better logo could they come up with than this one?" and "one of those friendly "hand-drawn" logos, employed to project a false relationship with customers" and "a stripped-down "polyester Modernist" typographic identity" and "sharp-edged pseudo-fascism of the Verizon logo become a trend among telecom conglomerates"?

Let me make my point more plain. My point was not that the making money is what's important (here's a difficult read vaguely along these lines), nor did I infer by any means that making money was the "principal benefit," though I appreciate you might have been making a pun.

My point is: It makes no sense to me that designers should bewail new designs, in this case specifically new identities for existing favorites/classics/etc. It matters not whether the collective blogmind deems x or y new design good or bad. My point simply is, good or bad, the work goes on. Long may it go on. That is nothing less than what all designers call a livelihood. Let's NOT lay down in front of that bulldozer, how about?

My point is: Let's talk about making something that's good enough to last. So the Bass ATT logo isn't good enough to last. Here now some designer that Felix will reveal has a chance to make something that might last. That's what I see happening, not the dethroning of a king.

There is so much nostalgia already in this thread (and it'll be a long one). Nostalgia, professionally speaking, calcifies into collective cynicism about the future, not to mention the possibilities of design. We start to assume that Bass was the best, to put it a little too glibly. Nostalgia, as I read it here clothed though it is in quasi-historical debate, is a hindrance to the creative process. I am not saying we don't need to know our history because we do and all that. I am saying that we need to be kicking history's ass rather than eating its shit. Progess lies thatta way. (Hell, if you want to just make money: crank out the same old stuff over and over; history sells.)

The rub is, of course, that the nostalgic ones are never wrong. Defending a Saul Bass logo is the easiest, safest position one can take. We design hacks (meaning me) come here for the wisdom of some of the leading designers in the business. But damn, it would be nice instead if a forum such as this for once voiced the desire to blow the fucking doors off of Saul Bass. Or would you seriously believe Maven when he says (and he will) that it can't be done. Wilt Chamberlain used to be the greatest ballplayer ever. I'm just sayin'.
Daffy
10.30.05
09:30

Bottom line: If it doesn't last, it just wasn't good enough.

I really disagree. Logos only need to be changed for two reasons: they were poorly considered in the first place, or they no longer reflect the values of the company.

Most logos these days (see the abysmal Logo Lounge series) are so obsessed with being "fresh" that they forget that you can have a timeless mark with a fresh application. Logo Lounge, among other books suggest that a logo must be fresh and awesome looking by themselves. If you put a Chermayeff and Geismar or Saul Bass logo into the book you'd say to yourself: "boring, next logo please!"

But that's the thing: logos don't exist without contexts. The context of a logo can make anything well-designed look fresh. At work, we have Paul Rand's Westinghouse logo on a stainless steel microwave. Did he design it to look great on a stainless steel microwave? Absolutely not. It looks great in that context because the logo itself is timeless. Just look at Apple. The only difference between the 80's and the 90's and today is the ways in which Apple uses a well-designed mark.

I think one of the reasons logos get replaced, is because we call them "identities." Logos are most certainly not an identity, in the same way that my face isn't my personality. The AT&T and SBC merger absolutely needs a new identity but it almost certainly doesn't need a new logo. A lot of Saul Bass' identity standards could be reconsidered, but the mark itself could stay the same and get the "freshness" that AT&T is looking for. When we call logos "identities," we perpetuate the idea that in order for a big merger to succeed they need a hot new logo.

The only way, it would seem, to lay in front of the bulldozers would be to show AT&T that they can be friends with "freshness" and Saul Bass at the same time.
Ryan Nee
10.30.05
09:37

Felix, you're Defending the NEW IDENTITY like its your BABY!!!!!

If I did I wouldnt/ couldnt tell you. All I can say is I have plenty of optomism right now.

I wonder if the as-of-yet-unidentified design consultant has suggested leaving it alone.

You said this for UPS too- when it made sense. In this case it would be regressive, since the AT&T mark is now quite dated (I'd imagine research was made to back this claim up). It lived a long time. Nearly 30 years. May it RIP so we can buy the T shirt in Urban Outfitters (for $35) next year! Hey- don't go spillin' UPS designer teardrops, my friends!

principal benefit is ... mak(ing) money

Nuthin to do with money... I'm sick of the mark. It doesnt work well on screen and lacks imagination. Compare it to the Cingular mark, which can actually dance and sing (Pentagram's Marty Neumier is calling these "avatars" in the Brand Gap- good book btw). I hated the Cingular's mark (by VSA) when it came out, but its grown on me. Sprint's new logo was in the Striped Bass region... glad its gone as well. Cart em all off I say.
felix sockwell
10.30.05
10:03

Am I wrong to have the nagging suspicion that contempt for nostalgia and enthusiasm for progress is why Pennsylvania Station is gone and we have the vile piece of shit that is Madison Square Garden standing in its place?
Michael Bierut
10.30.05
10:10

Zep said: Let's move on to some modern approach. And - hey! - which high-tech company's log is NOT blue. Yawn!

Felix said: Nuthin to do with money... I'm sick of the mark.

Oh, apparently I forgot we are in this business for our own personal amusement. If all we do is make things fresh we might as well be the guy who puts the expiration dates on meat at the super market. At least then we can be sure we're fighting the good fight.
Ryan Nee
10.30.05
10:21

Maybe so. Then again, how did there come to be a Pennsylvania Station in the first place? Or the steam engines it housed, for that matter. I'm nostalgic for horses. They were so much better than airplanes. Not all change is progress, but it's easy to see that looking back. Maybe I'm too young to see it looking forward. Maybe I've derailed myself. So sorry.
Daffy
10.30.05
10:32

Daffy said: Or did I misread the tone of disdain in such comments as "what better logo could they come up with than this one?"

Actually, yes. Given the history of the client, the current state of their industry, and the equity built up in the logo, I'd have a hard time considering any replacement better than the current one.

The fact that it was created by Saul Bass (and/or his colleagues) is not the point, although it is relevant to the existence and quality of the work itself.

My agenda is not to defend and/or celebrate the work because it was done by a "king" (that would indeed be "safe" and "easy"), but because it was good.

Daffy said: It matters not whether the collective blogmind deems x or y new design good or bad. My point simply is, good or bad, the work goes on.

It does indeed. But why should designers continue to crank out work with no regard to whether it is good or bad (or necessary at all)? That's of no value to anyone, including our clients.

Ryan said: I really disagree. Logos only need to be changed for two reasons: they were poorly considered in the first place, or they no longer reflect the values of the company.

The only way, it would seem, to lay in front of the bulldozers would be to show AT&T that they can be friends with "freshness" and Saul Bass at the same time.

Perfect. And there are plenty of examples--Apple, General Electric, Motorola--of good yet "dated" logos being preserved by building smart design systems around them.

That's not nostalgia, that's history. I'm all for pretty much anything that's challenging and surprising and new, but as we speed ahead let's keep an eye on the rear-view mirror.
Scott Stowell
10.30.05
10:36

Pennsylvania Station vs Madison Square Garden

In this case, there can only be one. In AT&T's case there are thousands of rip offs. Bad design practioners made Saul's work fade away. Thats where the sad chapter begins. I understand the equity thing (Scott) but this is such a huge merger- that merits, or signals the change.

Look at the bright side: SBC's logo - a swooshy mess - will be gone forever.
felix sockwell
10.30.05
11:01

You can consider graphic design an art, a business, or a profession.

Artists are interested in invention and novelty. They need patrons and blank slates. If you look at graphic design as an art, a logo is only worth considering if you clear the decks and throw out everything that was there before.

A businessperson wants to make money. An identity project is just a series of phased invoices that can't be rendered unless you get the work done, the faster the better, no questions asked and no looking back.

A professional, on the other hand, tries to act responsibly on behalf of the client, on behalf of the audience, on behalf of society, and on behalf of the profession. Like a doctor, a professional listens carefully, makes a diagnosis, and recommends surgery only when necessary (no matter how fun surgery is to perform, or how well it pays). Asked to redesign a logo, one might be governed by the same dictate as the medical profession: first, do no harm.

Of course, in graphic design, ideally you would be all three at once. But in my experience, we have too many artists and businesspeople, and not enough professionals.
Michael Bierut
10.30.05
11:02

Daffy:

I promised I wasn't going to try and Dominate this Editorial by responding to every comment but I can't resist.

If you look at the Composition of who is Employed at First Tier Identity Consultancies, then you'll better understand. The personnel with GIFTED HANDS and MINDS don't exist anymore.

Most important, all the Identity Design Luminaries I named for my DREAM TEAM are Independent except Howard York. To include, Michael and Paula whom Operate Independently within the Structure of Pentagram.

There are only a HANDFUL of GREAT Identity Designer(s) LIVING. Most of them I've named other than Tom Geismar; Arthur King; Robert W. Taylor; Joe Selame a few others.

Without Margaret Youngblood; Landor is a former shell of herself.
Both, Howard York and Jerry Kuyper worked for Landor, Lippincott & Margulies and SAUL BASS.
And Lindon Leader worked for BASS,Landor and Addison. As well, Howard York was with Soyster Ohrenschall, now Addison.

And Joe Phenom, has been employed by Landor, Siegel & Gale, Anspach Grossman Portugal. And Commissioned by all the First Tier Identity Consultants as an Independent. I can go on and on. Once you understand the personnel working in these Consultancies you understand the Larger Picture. There are Emphatically NO Superstar Identity Designer(s) working at any of these First Tier Identity Consultancies that can CREATE an Identity Better than BASS.

None of the Revitalizations, Mergers and Acquisition Identities have been better
than the Original. Since the DEATH OF BASS and
RAND 1996. If so, please name them.

It hasn't been done. It will not be DONE!!!! And it cannot be done!!!!!

If it were possible it would've happened with other noted Identities.

Unless the Original Bass team is Commissioned. Or my DREAM TEAM is involved. Believe me, its Wishful thinking!!!!!

"Wilt Chamberlain used to be the greatest ballplayer ever. I'm just sayin".

I love BIG DIPPER and his "B" Ball Accomplishment and History but I seriously draw the line at his over 20.000 forearm and knee stories.

"So the Bass ATT logo isn't good enough to last".

You're Fucking Kidding Me, Right!!!!!!!

You're Words Daffy, not mine below, BOLD and Italicized!!!!!!

"The CEO is an idiot, maybe he's to blame".

If you were aware of SBC's History and their CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. you wouldn't have to ask that question.

No Sane CEO would ever Commission a Public Relations Firm to Design their Identity which is what Edward E. Whitacre Jr. did.

Reason, No Public Relations Firm has Identity Designer(s) and Consultants on Staff. The work is usually subcontracted to an outside Design Firm. Often a Small Studio or Freelance Artist or Designer with no Corporate Identity Credibility or Experience. Usually with no Contact with the Client Organization.

DM

P.S. Ryan I prefer the word Identity and not Logo because I'm talking about the Complete Identity System.
Logos in and of themselves are Meaningless without Marketing and Communication.

Felix:

Pentagram's Marty Neumier is calling these "avatars".

Referencing Cingular.

Maestro Tony Spaeth was the First I heard Coin The Name Avatar. Beginning with the Aramark Man 1994 formerly ARA Services. Developed and Designed by The Schechter Group, now InterBrand.


DesignMaven
10.31.05
12:04

...tens if not hundreds of graphic designers will take home paychecks paid by this job

Fantastic! Our over-stuffed industry will be able to continue to build on the foundation of mediocrity so handsomely captured in the Verizon and SBC marks et al.

Perhaps the new logo, like so many other around at the moment, will perfectly represent where big business is at at this point in history.
chris dixon
10.31.05
12:12

I hate that word- professional.

professionalism doesnt include ethics. It places more emphasis on mannerisms, dress and prompt service- stuff that has nothing to do with design. Right?

I agree with your Milton-esque channeling here, but lets stay on topic: reasoning/ analysis for why this logo needs to go or stay. Shouldnt this pin-striped grampah be called out for what it is: dated? I have a sense that some of the melancholy sadness here is, like the UPS logo, stoked further by the legend status of an identity designer.

felix sockwell
10.31.05
12:23

Follow Up:

Ryan

Very Rarely if ever do we Cross Swords. You obviously haven't seen many Bass Identities.

Most of the work in Logo Lounge is Sub-Standard work. With noted few Exceptions MANY Will never stand the TEST OF TIME!!!!!!

Half aren't Real Identity Design Projects.

Logo Lounge Cater's to the Lowest Common Denominator. Designer(s) with no Sense of Identity Design History.

The Author and Editor of Logo Lounge are so inept they have mis-credited at least Twenty or more Identity Designs to Landor. Many, which Landor had nothing to do with. Many so Familiar and Basic an Idiot would recognize them as not a Landor Identity.

What does that say about the Credibility of Logo Lounge. Laughable at BEST!!!!!!!!

DM
DesignMaven
10.31.05
12:32

C'mon DM.

Keep the personal attacks and logolounge out of this. Lets try debating why this legendary mark is still relevent.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
12:41

Felix said: Bad design practioners made Saul's work fade away. Thats where the sad chapter begins. I understand the equity thing (Scott) but this is such a huge merger- that merits, or signals the change.

The world of logos was once filled with shapes filled with parallel lines, but those knockoffs have long since disappeared, leaving the original. So how did they make the AT&T mark fade?

Meanwhile, no regular person cares about a "huge merger." All we care about is the phone service we get, the price for which we get it, and who brings it to us. And "AT&T" will still be AT&T.

Felix said: professionalism doesnt include ethics. It places more emphasis on mannerisms, dress and prompt service- stuff that has nothing to do with design. Right?

Oh come on. If you're responding to Michael's definition--which was a way of combining the concerns of art, business, and society, then it has a lot to do with design:

Michael said: A professional, on the other hand, tries to act responsibly on behalf of the client, on behalf of the audience, on behalf of society, and on behalf of the profession.

Right?

Felix said: ...lets stay on topic: reasoning/ analysis for why this logo needs to go or stay. Shouldnt this pin-striped grampah be called out for what it is: dated?

The only reason something looks "dated" is because someone has decided it does. If something exists as part of our visual culture today, then it's a part of what today looks like.

Dumping a well-conceived, well-crafted, well-known symbol simply because it doesn't look like it was made this year is ridiculous. Should all our work come with an expiration date?
Scott Stowell
10.31.05
12:58

Okay, Felix:

I couldn't resist!!!!!

Food for thought, why is it the JAPANESE whom Learned Corporate Identity from Americans
are Purportedly Better at Corporate Identity.

My Rationale, Minolta another SAUL BASS Identity was Acquired and Merged with Konica.

The Bass Designed Minolta Symbol of the Lens Shutter was Kept and Preserved. Only the typography was updated to Signal Change.

Konica Minolta didn't have any problems with Keeping an already existing BASS Identity. Why?
Not for Nostalgic Reasons. Although, the JAPANESE REVERED BASS. The Identity was not touched for reasons Michael stated earlier, because their Identity Consultants understood Surgery wasn't necessary. At the same time Preserved History.

Ryan, there are actually TEN REASONS why an Identity should be changed.

Honestly, AT&T falls under two of the categories for change. They are not Etched in Stone.

The First Seven Reasons were written by Anspach Grossman Portugal in the 1970s.

World Renowned Identity Designer Lindon Leader Designer of the FedEx Identity revitalized the list to add three more Reasons why an Identity should to be changed.

I don't have permission to give out or upload Lindon Leader's List. It is interesting. I can post the list by Anspach Grossman Portugal. Perhaps, once we see the Revitalization I'll post Anspach Grossman Portugal's list.

Felix, I'm sworn to secrecy by Jerry Kuyper. If you saw the Ideation and Development Process of AT&T Identity I swear you would TAKE BACK everything you said. I'm talking about stuff you love from the First Scribble to Evolution of many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many Exploratory Glyphs. From Concept thru Development, then Further Development. Further Explorations of the Development Process. Then Refinement, And Further Refinement of the Concept.
Then Final Design of the Glyph and variations on a theme.

The Initial AT&T Globe was Designed with Twelve Stripes (12). To be reproduced larger than 1/2 inches.Then the other version was Designed with Ten Stripes (10). To be reproduced less than 1/2 inches.

There's also a Six (6) and Five (5) Four Striped versions for reproductions less than 1/4 or 1/8 of an inches.

You'll be amazed, because the AT&T Logotype was Designed First and Incorporated with the Bell Telephone System Identity. And Judge Green told Saul Bass he had to Design an entirely new Corporate Identity. And the Bell Glyph could no longer be used. Legend has it Bass only had a couple of weeks at Best to come up the the AT&T Sphere. The Name was changed to American Bell. And American Bell was Incorporated with the AT&T Globe Sphere. Wish I could show you the pictures. They were Court Ordered to Change the Name again. And the AT&T Logotype was Incorporated with the Globe Sphere.
Thus given the birth of one of the most UBIQUITOUS Identities in History.

DM
DesignMaven
10.31.05
02:11

"So take a long, last look at Saul Bass's finest moment. AT&T will live on, but its logo is about to disappear."

Can't say I agree that this is Bass's finest moment. I can see the point of wanting the keep the original identity, but I can also see the need to change it. Yes, there is a significant risk in getting a horrible re-design. But what if it actually turns out to be an effective re-design? I do think that if Bass's logo was designed by some no-name, now defunct firm, we wouldn't care so much. There is a bit of piety happening here. Yes, I am a huge Bass fan, but I think of all people, designers shouldn't be afraid to look ahead; even if the identity is linked to Bass.

Perhaps we should be thankful for a complete re-design. Look at what happened to Bass's original United Airlines identity. The late 80's/early 90's re-design kept the original mark, but beyond that it was absolutely horrifying. Terrible color scheme, no ability to withstand time or the elements. Nothing like a drab grey fuselage and some stripes on the tail fin with the Bass logo pasted on. And the typeface? Hardly appropriate at large sizes. The new United identity? I love it. A very strong nod to the original mark, but much more appropriate for today. I think AT&T needs to be brought up to speed too.

If you look at the re-designs of both Continental and Frontier Airlines it is easy to see why we get worried about changes. The Bass designs were definitely changed for the worse. And that's putting it lightly. Still, I don't think Bass's designs would have necessarily withstood the test of time. Both feel VERY 70's, as does—I'm sorry—some of his other identity work.

Saul Bass definitely nailed some timeless marks, but I don't think AT&T is one of them.
jb
10.31.05
03:01

Not to be evasive, but I wonder if logos, specifically, (as opposed to identity systems) can clearly be evaluated as "good" or "bad."

Is the Target logo good or bad? Motorola? Nike? GE? Apple? I'm not sure how you would evaluate these logos on formal terms. (Is the dot in the middle of Target circle the right size?) Obviously, as had been said above several times, the context provides more meaning than any of a logo's isolated "design" qualities.

The biggest — and perhaps most legitimate — complaint about the AT&T logo is that it's dated, particularly in that it stands squarely in the middle of the 1980s binge for high-tech marks with horizontal bands.

Still, I'm not sure its fair to make the original pay for the sins of the imitators. If that were true in the world of architecture, Mies's Seagram building would have been demolished after years of bad copies up and down Third and Sixth Avenues.

I agree with others above that the fact that Saul Bass designed the mark is of interest to insiders and design historians, but irrelevant in considering whether the logo is worth keeping.
Michael Bierut
10.31.05
07:30

I'm slightly surprised that amongst all this discussion, there's no consideration (awareness?) of the present value to SBC of the Bass ATT logo. What emotions does it evoke? DO consumers see it and think 'I trust that brand'? Or might SBC have done their research and decised that the word association games comes out with things like 'unreliable, fusty, poor service"...? Poor perceptions of a brand can persist long after they've ceased to be accurate - many companies have rebranded not out of philistinism, but because they wanted a fresh start with their customers.
BGE
10.31.05
08:42

Asked to redesign a logo, one might be governed by the same dictate as the medical profession: first, do no harm.

This exercise in carefully-considered restraint would be a profound step forward in the universal practice of identity design. There are times for radical, invasive procedures, but there are also times for restraint.
Daniel Green
10.31.05
09:16

Don't we get tired of being so tirelessly skeptical of the future of design? Why is our knee-jerk reaction to bemoan and criticize even the possibility that the people working at the forefront of our profession know what they are doing or could hold a candle to the modernist masters? Sacred cows are dangerous things.

And Maven, are you really the cranky old coot sitting on his porch with a shotgun refusing to think about the possibility of evacuating? Thats what it sounds like. I have no doubt you are highly intelligent and have a lot to teach other designers about the past and how it might inform our future. It's just hidden behind so much BELLIGERENCE!!!!!!!!!!

For the most part, its been agreed that Modernism failed on many fronts. Its not the end-all-be-all solution we were taught it was (as much as it pains me) and no amount of hero worship will change that. Modernist design is quickly becoming nostalgic and will soon be, God willing, kitschy. I am afraid we need to embrace the ability to move on, before our stubbornness becomes pitiful.

If graphic design is to evolve at all, we need to embrace PROGRESS. Look forward and hope that, as a profession we can recognize the need for new designs, and support the idea that we can do better than Granddad did.

Otherwise what is the point?
r agrayspace
10.31.05
09:56

r agrayspace said: Don't we get tired of being so tirelessly skeptical of the future of design?

If graphic design is to evolve at all, we need to embrace PROGRESS.

I totally agree, but my point is that this particular design problem has already been solved, and very nicely at that. So why are so many designers forced (or willing) to constantly re-visit work like this instead of concentrating on what is truly new?

The constant parade of unnecessary redesigns only encourages the fairly popular opinion that designers are nothing more than stylists, constantly making everything look "fresh and new" while the real problems go unsolved.
Scott Stowell
10.31.05
10:06

no regular person cares about a "huge merger."

said the regular person who pays twice as much for gas as he did this time last year. C'mon Scott. EVERYONE cares about mergers. We have to. They usually signal bad things to come.

As far as the new AT&T logo, I will again say again that you guys are playing historian in love with legend and not seeing the big picture: the mark served its purpose. now, it will be re-purposed. To be honest, I have not actually seen the new mark.

But after reading an e mail a few minutes ago from someone who actually has, I would like to retract my earlier optomism.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
10:12

Felix said: said the regular person who pays twice as much for gas as he did this time last year. C'mon Scott. EVERYONE cares about mergers. We have to. They usually signal bad things to come.

I'm not saying that mergers don't have an impact on the economy or that we shouldn't care, but if the company that provides your phone service used to be "AT&T" and is now some "AT&T" that used to be "SBC," that doesn't really matter.

What does matter is how they treat their workers and customers, the value of their goods and services, and their impact on the world. All too often designers are used to create an illusion that things are getting better when just the opposite is true.

But after reading an e mail a few minutes ago from someone who actually has, I would like to retract my earlier optomism.

Uh oh.
Scott Stowell
10.31.05
10:24

If graphic design is to evolve at all, we need to embrace PROGRESS.

truer words were never spoken. things are bad for identity desigbn right now. Take a look at the AIGA 365 Annual that recently gave an award to that polished turd known as the Fedex Kinkos logo. Bad logo. Bad merger. Bad idea.

What do we do? Give it an award. Why? Beats me. Ask Bonnie over at Number 17. I believe she is the judge who apraised it.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
10:30

First UPS, now AT&T. Sigh.
greg
10.31.05
10:36

my point is that this particular design problem has already been solved

A problem solved for a different world entirely. The blah abstraction and "yesterday" feel of the original mark, while a fine hallmark of great corporate design, isn't really servicing a company, especially a communications company, that needs to be at the forefront of everything said company produces, be it their advanced communications networks or their identity. They need to live their message, which I would hope is advanced techonological solutions. Do we really think the Bass mark communicates that? Do you think a communications company, whos eye is on the future, needs to embrace its past?

Timelessness is a red herring and a moldy idea.

Also as much as it pains me, I think "New and Fresh" is sought after becaus it can actually work. People like this new stuff to look at (Bank of America. BP. UPS (which most people actually like better), and FedExKinkos). I like this new tuff, even when I am bitching about it because it means that our profession is interacting with society and is relevant, even if it fails.

Isn't it early to judge FedExKinkos success? Its memorable, corporate (albeit tired) and people definitly respond positively to be being able to ship from Kinkos locations. Why is this bad?

r agrayspace
10.31.05
10:40

the new brand will be heavily promoted with the largest multimedia advertising and marketing campaign in either company's history

I think it's interesting to note what professions were described in the SBC press release. Perhaps it's a sign of the times or not, but the language of graphic design has changed. Marketing and advertising has swallowed design.
Michael Surtees
10.31.05
11:11

Great string MB and thanks, Maven, but I'll keep my powder dry (mostly) until I see the new mark. Meantime, can't help but note that:

1) the original 'striped Bass' globe (like that, Felix) did have a technical flaw, great as it was; because in positive it illustrated a highlight on a ball, it couldn't really be reversed. The reverse version had to be a ball with a dark spot on it, really a different thought. (Don't we usually include a design criterion that says "Works in reverse?")

2) It had already been diluted, redesigned by someone unknown to me, who thought Saul's highlight was insufficient in suggesting roundness and so added shading.

I'll add that to me, Saul's mark signified a great company. Over time this resonance shrank to maybe 30%, but it's still more than the 15% I'd assign to SBC. But now, to simply stamp that equity on a different entity feels simply fraudulent, a theft of reputation. Redesign may or may not be a move to quality, but it's the more honest thing to do.

Tony
T Spaeth
10.31.05
11:25

people definitly respond positively to... ship(ing) from Kinkos locations. Why is this bad?

and you've seen the data to back this up? sounds like one persons opinion. I agree with everything you said, but I think this mergering, cluttering, mixed communicationing does nothing us, or for our profession. PICK ONE!!!! As someone close to this particular identity assignment I will say that the decisions by the higher ups left me unamused. And, along the way, we lost one of the best identity designers our profession has ever seen: Margaret Youngblood. (Landor's original Fedex CD, along with desingers Lindon Leader, Courtney D Reaser and Nancy Hoefig)

Woops. Sorry to get all Mavey with the names. Back to my Elvis CD
felix sockwell
10.31.05
11:25

Your communication of notable names, is received. Delivery is everything.

No data to support. It probably is just one persons opinion (mine), but no more subjective than saying the FedEx Kinkos is "cluttered, mixed communicating" and is hurting the profession.
Would renaming it and starting from scratch really have been better?

As far as picking one, I don't think the Sprint/Nextel thing is a failure. I actually does a good job of capitalizing on both previous identities to create something new.

Again its all personal conjecture. I am just bothered by our criteria of what constitutes a failure or success.
r agrayspace
10.31.05
11:34

I worked for the Bell System, then AT&T, then Lucent, for 21 years. I recall the outcry when
the Bell was replaced by the "Deathstar" (there was even a Bloom County cartoon that commented on this), but quickly came to like it. I'll admit that I never warmed to Lucent's "cigarette burn" logo, although the name caught on. I've seen many offices within AT&T displaying a framed evolution chart of the various bell & AT&T logo variants. If the new logo is a good one, I'll see it as an extension of that evolution.
mark suhovecky
10.31.05
11:50

As a member of the team that created the AT&T logo I have closely followed it's evolution for over twenty years. It has outlasted numerous AT&T CEOs. I have images of at least three CEOs standing in front of the logo. Often it appeared the more the company struggled the larger the logo became.

I have collected dozens of similar globe logos. My favorite being being a hot air balloon company in San Diego that simply extended and squared off the base of the sphere to form a balloon, As ubiquitous as the spheres, swooshes or stripes have become they never have created much confusion in the marketplace due to the sheer presence of AT&T, NIKE and IBM. Several years ago I was told by the AT&T trademark counsel they knew of over 22,000 companies in the US that use a globe as their primary logo. See how many you name.

Saul Bass used the fundamental criteria of being strong, unique, memorable, flexible and enduring to guide the creative work on all corporate identity projects. For those of you who feel the AT&T globe is horribly dated, I recommend taking a look at telephones of that era (early Seinfeld shows will suffice) and the first Macintosh computer.

Twenty years ago GE provided a similar dilemma to the design profession. Jack Welch held the view that GE hadn't seriously looked at their corporate identity in seventy years and wasn't likely to do it again for decades. He wanted to be certain that the monogram fully represented the company GE was becoming. After strongly considering a dramatically new direction Jack Welch and his senior team, including the heads of businesses such as appliances and lighting, decided to retain the monogram. They recognized that generations had grown up seeing the monogram on appliances and light bulbs. Landor communicated the breadth of the GE businesses and expressed the brand strategy through new nomenclature, brand architecture, business signatures and design systems.

Landor probably earned as much respect within the design community when the GE monogram was retained as for any program they have created. The preservation of our visual culture was discussed extensively during that project. The Landor team devoted equal resources to both evolutionary and revolutionary ways to identify GE. The objective of facilitating an informed discussion and decision was achieved. I hope the AT&T logo receives the same objective consideration.

Jerry Kuyper

Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
12:09

Landor probably earned as much respect within the design community when the GE monogram was retained as for any program they have created. The preservation of our visual culture was discussed extensively during that project

This is exactly what this is about:
1)
The preservation of our visual culture. This is what Michael has been saying, i believe, in his analogies to architecture. It took time, and the destruction of many great buildings for people to come to respect certain (not all) historic buildings as being worthy of protection. I believe, and I've said it here mnay times before, that certain—not all—graphic marks are worthy of the same protection.

In this sense, it does matter that the identity was by Saul Bass. It even matters that it was among the first of a widely imitated design. It matters that it's been around a long time and is ... dare I say it, "dated." That's the point. It's part of an era, it has history, it has equity, it has everything that makes it worthy of preservation.

Thanks Jerry Kyuper for your comment. Interestingly, whenever this subject comes up I think of the GE logo, which is one of my all-time favourites, and which I think of as the prime example of a great mark that has endured through decades of change.

2)
What so many people don't understand about identity design is Use it, Use it, Use it, Use it. If something is well known, recognized and respected why on earth would you change it? I'm baffled by the new AT&Ts ability to understand the value (the extreme value) in retaining the name, but not understand that that translates equally to the value of the mark. As Michael said, "it already exists." If I were a shareholder, I'd be livid at the prospect of the mega-millions it will cost to change the thing and promote it.

So, it's worth saving to the company on a business perspective, and it's worth saving to society on a cultural perspective.
marian bantjes
10.31.05
01:21

Interestingly, whenever this subject comes up I think of the GE logo, which is one of my all-time favourites, and which I think of as the prime example of a great mark that has endured through decades of change.


No way, Marian, that GE logo looks so 1890's. How cliche and dated. It's time you got on the progress wagon with the rest of us.
Ryan Nee
10.31.05
01:36

Giving credit where credit is due.

Most authors acknowledge their writing was informed and inspired by numerous individuals.

Oscar winners often thank God and their mothers.

I have yet to see a film where the gaffer and best boy were not credited.

However as a profession we are not very generous in crediting the collective effort required in creating an identity program. There is a certain mystique in imaging the master emerging from their cave of inspirational seclusion to deliver the masterpiece to the world.

When I read of Bass's finest moment and Bass's AT&T logo I translate that into Saul Bass/Herb Yager and Associates' finest moment. It may not be as snappy or fluid but it is more accurate.

Without diminishing Saul Bass's role in creating the AT&T mark, I would like to set the credits straight. This program, like most corporate logos and all corporate identity programs, was a team effort. The strategy work was led by Herb Yager and Herb Kessler led the naming component. Saul Bass provided creative direction and Dean Smith was the design director. The design team included Chuk-Yee Chang, Brenda Ehlert, Darrell Hayden, and myself. Certainly others in the office provided additional contributions. For that matter, the client deserves full recognition for their contribution to the creative process and outcome.

With our dismal record of sharing credit, it is no wonder the Design Maven can't think of a single superstar identity designer working within the identity consultancies. I know many, they are there working in complete anonymity much like the Design Maven Dream Team was decades ago.

Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
02:06

Right on. Some people will believe anything that a legend (like Bass) does or another (like Beirut) says. Lets stop the weighty architectural referencing. Please. This is about dated communications. Aside from older identity designers, no ones on board this crazy train.

Get on the bus.

btw- for those in mourning, we'll stop off at Urban Outfitters for a Bass United Way logo T that to dry your eyes with.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
02:13

"Graphic design, unlike architecture , leaves no footprint. When one of the best known logos in the world disappears overnight, the only hole created is in our collective consciousness. By New Year's Eve, Saul Bass's sphere will be no more. Will anyone mourn — or protest — its passing? "

Love the sentiment, but isn't it just sentiment?

Many logos have bit the dust for good and bad reasons. But this logo isn't any Penn Station. Its just a mark.

What I regret, however, is loosing Bass's handiwork. For those who knew and respected him there has been some comfort in knowing the logo was still current. Same was true for Rand's UPS (and remains true for ABC). It suggests immortality of a kind.

But graphic design (even logos) is ephemeral. Who is to say the next thing will be worse - or better.

I missed the NASA meatball. Then I got used to the NASA noodle. Now, I'm used to the meatball again. Plus ça change.

What I truly miss is Ladislav Sutnar's parenthesis around the area code - now that's another innovation lost to posteriety.
steve heller
10.31.05
02:16

this logo isn't any Penn Station.

Thank you, Conductor Heller. Nuff said.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
02:31

Jerry The KingKuper has Spoken.

Thanks Maestro Spaeth for your comments.

Ryan:

We Cross Swords again. You seriously need to stop looking at Logo Lounge Books because your getting a Mis-Education of Identity Design Practice and History. I expect those asinine comments from someone that's follower of Logo Lounge.

GE is among the Top Five (5) All time Great Identities Currently in use and Active Today.

Your opinions are WELCOMED buy they are not informed. No disrespect intended, but you're disrepecting Jerry Kuyper and Marian with BRAZEN Ignorance.

Jerry Kuyper is one of the Formost Identity Designer(s) of our Time.
Please, Read and Learn something.
Again, Disrespect not intended.

-------------------------------------------------

Allow me to Digress!!!!!

r agrayspace:

And Maven, are you really the cranky old coot sitting on his porch with a shotgun refusing to think about the possibility of evacuating? Thats what it sounds like. I have no doubt you are highly intelligent and have a lot to teach other designers about the past and how it might inform our future. It's just hidden behind so much BELLIGERENCE!!!!!!!!!!

If I thought you knew the difference between
Staging and Stage Craft; Lock up and Lock Jaw, Alphaglyph and Alphabet.

As the Bold Terminology relate to Identity Design. I'd have some conversation for you.

To save you Further Embarrassment, if you cannot inform me Publicly or Privately answers these questions. You're Playing yourself

1. What Consultancy Developed and Designed the Original Bank of American Corporate Identity?

2. Who revitalized the Bank of America Identity. Meaning Logotype and Symbol? Two different Designer(s)

3. The Designer of the Original Sprint Identity.

4. The Consultancy. Who Revitalized the Sprint Identity before the Merger and Acquisition.

5. The name of the Designer whom was Creative Director for Revitalizing UPS.

These are all Identities you selected to talk about. The difference between ME and you.

I know what I'm talking about and I NEVER EVER Discuss Identities that I cannot Identify the Designer or Consultancy Responsible for the work.

Son Until you Garner my EXPERIENCE; KNOWLEDGE; WISDOM; and EXPERTISE.

Please, please, please, DO NOT Bespoke My Name from your LIPS.

You are UNWORTHY!!!!!!!!

Most of All an Embarrassment to ME!!!!!


You are in Raleigh N.C. aren't you?
I think I may be able to get you Permanent Residence in Dorothy Dix.

DM

DesignMaven
10.31.05
02:38

But now, to simply stamp that equity on a different entity feels simply fraudulent, a theft of reputation. Redesign may or may not be a move to quality, but it's the more honest thing to do.

This, to me, is what helps seperate identity design from the architectural comparisons—that they are inextricably linked to the company that they are created for. Most buldings can be repurposed with little change. Tony also hits on something very interesting, and to me, at least gives me solace in seeing the mark change. Id rather have it die an honest death then live on as a farce.

What I truly miss is Ladislav Sutnar's parenthesis around the area code - now that's another innovation lost to posteriety.

Something that should be a great topic in and of itself.

I'll hold off jumping the gun and not critique something i havent seen, but this topic has brought many other posts on DO full circle (the recent nostalgia, Michael's honesty post, etc.) I'm re-questioning my positions on those topics as i think about this one.
Derrick Schultz
10.31.05
02:50

Ryan: We Cross Swords again. You seriously need to stop looking at Logo Lounge Books because your getting a Mis-Education of Identity Design Practice and History.

Both times we crossed swords I was being sarcastic. I thought it was evident when I called the GE logo "so 1890's." In my head it sounded like a teenage girl disowning Ricky Martin for not being cool anymore or something. I also called the logo lounge books "abysmal." Hmmm...

Sorry for any confusion. I'm in your camp on this one, Maven.
Ryan Nee
10.31.05
03:00

Yeah I knew I catch hell for that comment Maven. But yet again you go and prove my point.

To say that people can't participate in these discussions without passing some superiority checklist is troubling, let along BRAZENLY elitist. Please stop ruining our ability to have a discussion.

And why on earth would you pick on where I live? WTF?

I wish you made it easier to take you seriously and learn from you.

Back on topic. Maven Channel ----> *click*
r agrayspace
10.31.05
03:28

I want to provide some clarity to points that have been posted. 

With regard to the rumors that the sphere was an existing "off the rack" design or dashed off to met a deadline, I beg to differ. The design team generated over 2,000 logo directions. I recall this because I was responsible for organizing the materials on fourteen 4' by 8' foam core boards. In classic Basel fashion I had grouped related ideas together (with non removable double sided tape). Saul said to me without a pause "that's great, now fill the holes". Our team created an additional 500 directions to make sure we hadn't overlooked any better ideas and to fill the holes.  The work was methodically created and critiqued over several months and defined the "no stone left unturned" creative process.

Saul Bass was an exceptional presenter of concepts and designs but was unable to persuade AT&T to accept the first recommendation or the ten secondary directions. Hearing that news, I remember feeling dizzy, wondering how many additional concepts we could generate. Within several days, Dean Smith gave me a thumbnail sketch of a linear globe that Brenda Ehlert had designed and asked me to develop and refine it. This globe design (with 21 lines) was presented and embraced by AT&T. Working with Dean Smith, I methodically created 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4 lines versions in Plaka. The 4 line version looked like Pac-Man and was never used. The different marks were printed on kraft paper, foil stamped and molded into plastic to test production challenges.

The original globe did initially have a technical flaw - when mechanically reversed the globe had a dark area in the upper left instead of a highlight. Within a few days a reverse use mark had been designed and has been a part of the logo palette since launch in 1984. Anytime there are two choices, mistakes will be made and I certainly have seen my share of positive marks used in reverse. I have also seen the globe used upside down. Clearly the implementors of the system are responsible for those mistakes. 

Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
03:31

DM,

didn't you once say the best identity manual, er, I mean Annual, was Corporate Idenity by David E. Carter?

We are most certainly "unworthy".
felix sockwell
10.31.05
03:32

2,000 directions?

What a shame! A waste of time and talent. Surely, Saul Bass wasnt trying to kill his own staff digging "holes".

I recently collaborated on a AIDS logo design with the super-magnificent Stefan Sagmeister. When I mentioned showing options, he repeatedly said "we only show one." I have to admit, it was quite refreshing. And guess what, we sold the mark exactly the way needed to be.

2,000 versions? Wheres the pride in that?
felix sockwell
10.31.05
03:44

I'm not extolling or defending the virtues of creating 2,000 directions. Personally I try to create the best logo first and take the rest of the day off.

I am trying provide an accurate account of a remarkable period of time that occurred over twenty years by disputing the notion that this logo was pulled out of a closet. 
Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
03:58

this logo isn't any Penn Station. Its just a mark.

Which begs the question, is that kind of status even possible for any kind of graphic? Five years ago we might have said yes. I am not so sure now. I was taught that Rand and Bass and the other corporate modernists were Deities and I am still hearing things from time to time. But Modernism failed us. It doesn't work as well as we thought. I love my swiss international style as much as anyone, but universal and timeless it is not.

Are we elevating the importance of what we do beyond its actuality?

Are we proclaiming sacred cows in order to add complexity and grandeur to what is by nature ephemeral and meant to be subject to change?

From the cultural perspective, maybe that is designs prime differentiator from the permanent designs like architecture?

Maybe we should be celebrating this fact rather than calling foul?
r agrayspace
10.31.05
04:05

If graphic design is so ephemeral why do people feel such strong emotion when they see a swastika, Star of David, Red Cross, Christian Cross or an red, white and blue elephant. Inherently these are just marks on paper, but they symbolize ideas and represent organizations. In southern France we have sophisticated depictions of daily life and caves that are 30,000 years old. Our graphic roots have significance every bit as important as architectural footprints.

Is it any wonder we assume people do not respect our profession?

And yes, I know the AT&T globe isn't a bison.
Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
05:45

Felix:

"I recently collaborated on a AIDS logo design with the super-magnificent Stefan Sagmeister".

I'm sure it will NO DOUBT wound up in Logo Lounge 3 Where it Belongs; Speaking of Unworthy.

And Bill Gardner will Credit the Design to Landor. Like he does everything else.

What a shame! A waste of time and talent. Surely, Saul Bass wasn't trying to kill his own staff digging "holes".

Speaking of Sagemeister, how Magnificent is he if you BEAT HIM in the Competition for the 2012 Olympic Competition Design.

Sagemeister will never be Mentioned in the Annals or Among Great Identity Designers, like Jerry Kuyper.

Sagemeister, Completely OVER-RATED in my Book.

Your Mistake is in Equating the work of an Preeminent Identity Design Consultancy such as Saul Bass with a Guy like Sagemeister whose only claim to Fame is Designing CD Covers.
And perhaps the Rolling Stones Stage which nobody remembers. What else has Sagemeister Created which is noteworthy.

When I mentioned showing options, he repeatedly said "we only show one."

What an "ASS-WORSHIPER" such Original Thinking.

Sagemeister musta HAD A PAUL RAND MOMENT!!!

FYI, All the First Tier Identity Consultancies commence no less than 2000 Identity Explorations.

r. grayspace.

You've Proved your point in that The Point is that you have no Point.

And Trying To Explain That To You is Like Explaining TO YOU A JACKASS HAS EARS.

DM

P.S. r. grayspace, My GOD, were you or have you ever been a LATCHKEY CHILD???

I'm not your FATHER FIGURE, son.
I can't give you what you want.

DesignMaven
10.31.05
05:46

DM:

Sagmeister is unworthy?... Right, that must be why Chermayeff & Geismar tapped him to give the forward in their book on Trademark design. You gonna badmouth C&G,NY too?

felix sockwell
10.31.05
06:06

As I've been reading this discussion, one thought comes to mind: some of the contributors have been letting their emotions get the best of them, and haven't been able to remain objective.

In fact, at times the discussion has become downright toxic. A new identity hasn't even been unveiled, and one contributor has already torn it to shreds, sight unseen:

Rest assure the Identity replacing AT&T will be Pale in Comparison and Laugable at BEST.

This statement is short-sighted. It fails to take into account that there are serious business objectives at stake. Don't forget, AT&T is a business. If an identity doesn't support and enhance its desired position in the marketplace, then it's time for a change. The notion that the AT&T globe should never change because it's "a classic" is just silly.

I also can't pass judgement on AT&T's (SBC's) decision to change this identity.

I've worked for a number of the big-ticket Identity firms in New York City (including Lippincott & Margulies, under the direction of Jerry Kuyper). Experience has taught me that without understanding the whole story, we can't just cast aside a company's decision to embark upon a new identity. We don't know the objectives, haven't seen the strategy, haven't studied the PowerPoint decks.

I sincerely doubt that a AT&T would roll out a new identity, plus a massive implementation program, without performing due diligence.

I found Jerry Kuyper's back-story fascinating. I also applaud Jerry for his ability to remain positive in his comments. More designers should take their cues from him. He has been, and will always remain, one of my greatest mentors.
Ryan Paul
10.31.05
06:29

Wow. This topic has brought out the Passion of the Maven, and the Fire of Felix. Now if only Art Chantry will join in.

Ryan Paul, a person can pass a great deal of branding judgment based on the press release. They are dumping an identity mark with enormous brand equity, yet keeping a name that is painfully anachronistic and not reflective of the global economy — American Telephone & Telegraph.
BlueStreak
10.31.05
06:55

So What, Felix:

As MUCH as WE FIGHT and LOVE / HATE each other.

You'll probably write the Forward and Design one of my Books. My point, is that what I said HIT HOME to you. Whether what I said is what I actually believe to be TRUE about The Magnificent Sagemeister or not. In the Big Picture, neither Here or There.

My point, it took a lot for my Personal Friend Jerry The King Kuyper to neglect his busy schedule to today and discuss the AT&T Identity Demise.

I'm only Illustrating Jerry Kuyper Deserves the same Respect and Attention as you and others give their Personal Friends, Mentors and Heros.

Because, of the Confidentiality of Identity Practice, Jerry Kuyper, may be less of a Household Name than Sagemeister and others. He is nothing LESS THAN A LEGEND!!!!!!!!! And Deserves the same Respect.
Designer(s) in Identity Profession are aware of His NAME and Stature which is Synonymous with Excellence and Perfection. And no Designer Practicing today has a Greater Body of Work.

Identities Jerry Kuyper has Developed and Designed.

1. The Original Sprint Identity
2. 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta
3. Disney
4. Hawaiian Airlines
5. Stanford University
6. Singapore Technologies
7. The Bank of Santander
8. Touchstone Films
9. Televista
10. Telemex
11. Fuji Bank
12. BD Becton Dickinson
13. ExxonMobile
14. ChevronTexaco
15. Humana
16. 360 Communications
17. General Electric
18. JohnsonDiversy

To name just a Few. That only scratches the surface of Mr. Kuyper's Monumental Body of Work.

Jerry Kuyper has held Senior Management and Design Positions at Saul Bass; Siegel & Gale; Frog Design; Lippincott & Margulies; and Landor.

For those interested, you can find most of the Identity Projects I listed on Landor's or Lippincott & Margulies website.

DM

P.S. Dis, Chemayeff & Geismar, never in my LIFE.

Michael, sorry for the promotion buy I'm Illustrating a necessary Point.







DesignMaven
10.31.05
07:44

Design Maven

I have spent part of the day trying to set the record straight regarding all of the people that contributed to AT&T logo design.

It would take me a month to begin to credit those who made major contributions to the programs you listed, some of which I designed and many of which I directed.

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with brilliant strategists and designers at exceptional firms for outstanding clients. Now back to that logo...

Jerry Kuyper
10.31.05
08:40

Here is Mr Kuyper's best work.
felix sockwell
10.31.05
09:43

He's a HELLUVA Sculptor as well.
His other PASSION.

As Jerry said to Maestro Tony Spaeth.

They are all available as Logos.

DM
DesignMaven
10.31.05
10:02

BlueStreak,

In your response to my post, you wrote the following: "a person can pass a great deal of branding judgment based on the press release."


OK, let's go back to the press release:

"The brand known worldwide for telecommunications innovation, quality and reliability will soon become synonymous with the transition to a new era of integrated communications and entertainment services."

Does the AT&T globe support this promise? As much as I like the globe, and value its historical significance, I don't believe that it's on strategy. I think a new logo could better support their position.

While I agree that the globe has "enormous brand equity," I don't subscribe to your claim that they're "dumping" it. If it's not in alignment with the brand strategy, a new mark is the way to go. And on the eve of a new merger, there couldn't be a better time to do it. It's an example of Corporate Identity 101, plain and simple.

I also disagree with your statement that the name is "anachronistic." They stopped using the name American Telephone and Telegraph more than 20 years ago.

Keeping the AT&T name is a smart move on their part. On paper, the company still has tremendous equity. There will be no need to re-educate Wall Street, the media or the general public. And a new, revitalized identity will signal the rebirth of an organization with a history of innovation and leadership.

And on a similar note, I agree with UPS's decision to update their identity. It's been decades since they've accepted packages tied with string. The new identity supports the brand strategy more successfully than the Rand logo.
Ryan Paul
10.31.05
10:26

you can put a pig (SBC) in a Prada dress (AT&T) but it's still a pig.
mark
10.31.05
10:48

You guys have me putting a lot of thought into this. And I came up with a great new tagline for the new brand. I need to publish it here in a public forum so I can claim the copyright. Here it is:

AT&T, The Brand New Company You've Always Known.
BlueStreak
10.31.05
10:51

Ryan, I knew you were joking, and I laughed.

Maven, PLEASE! Give it a rest.

Is it any wonder we assume people do not respect our profession?

Jerry, Exactly.

Others: Please don't misinterpret this as being a case for "everything designed by the so-called design gods (and their teams) is great and can never be matched by any other mortal." There are and will be great graphic marks designed now and in the future, and hopefully companies will have the sense to retain them and build on their visual equity to make them become classics, instead of treating them like fashion wear that has to constantly "keep up with the times."

I am an advocate of the preservation of certain graphic material, and for the reasons stated above, I think the AT&T mark fits the bill. To be honest, I don't like it, but I respect it for what it is and where it came from.

I would like to think that one day not all graphic design is treated as ephemera, that the great work of great designers is seen as worthy of preservation, and that the names Bass, Rand, Chermayeff and Sagmeister mean something to regular citizens in the same way that Frank Lloyd Wright, Corbusier and Frank Gehry do.
marian bantjes
10.31.05
10:54

"The brand known worldwide for telecommunications innovation, quality and reliability will soon become synonymous with the transition to a new era of integrated communications and entertainment services."

Does the AT&T globe support this promise? As much as I like the globe, and value its historical significance, I don't believe that it's on strategy. I think a new logo could better support their position.

Ryan? It's a ball, with lines through it. It can represent anything; but what it represents most right now is company history, which presumably they think is worth keeping, or they'd change the name. Logos don't support positions, the actions of the company support logos.
marian bantjes
10.31.05
11:02

Please. This is about dated communications. Aside from older identity designers, no ones on board this crazy train.

I'm 22 years old, and I think the AT&T logo is great because it was specifically designed to be simple enough to live for a long time. I don't just like it because it was designed by Saul Bass. I like it because it wasn't designed to look kick-ass in 2005, like the new UPS logo, for example. Sure, that logo looks cool now, and people like it, but will it look gimmicky in 2015? I think the AT&T logo only looks dated beause they have beaten the visual language into the ground so much.

In another note: modernism failed us? Really?

What was great about modernism, at least in graphic design, is that they designed the equivalent of a paper doll. You could put clothes on it that changed with the time, but the doll itself was so simple that it never really needed to be replaced. That's what's so sad about a mark like this going down the drain. All it needs is a new pair of clothes.
Ryan Nee
11.01.05
02:07

I should have differentiated my Ryans. In my 2 back-to-back comments above, the first addresses Ryan Nee, the second addresses Ryan Paul.
marian bantjes
11.01.05
09:16

I am an advocate of the preservation of certain graphic material, and for the reasons stated above, I think the AT&T mark fits the bill. To be honest, I don't like it, but I respect it for what it is and where it came from.

Its this idea of preservation that interests me. What does that mean?

Is a functioning business with its eye on the future really responsible for cultural preservation? I guess its noble to expect them too, but also futile.

Isn't the fact that the AT&T identity is permanantly a part of the history of corporate modernism enough?

How else can we preserve our landmark work without expecting it to actually live in the marketplace forever?

Are graphic designers the only ones who care?

I am not asking these questions because I want everything to be new and that I hate classic work. I just find this paradox mind boggling.


In another note: modernism failed us? Really?

Universal graphic design is a red herring because individual cultural perspectives are integral to how people "read" graphics.

A designer once told me a story about getting a project to design instructions on how to properly clean an office complex for the maintenance staff. They set out to design a great modernist masterpiece. They had isotypes with abstract mop icons and beautiful diagrams showing the pattern in which you should properly mop the floor. The maintenace staff had no idea how to read the diagrams. It looked like a foreign language and was a total failure.

r agrayspace
11.01.05
09:27

Please let me clarify: I'm not saying that the globe is bad or that it must go away. In fact, I think it's a timeless solution, and a shame to see it go.

But my point is this: We need to consider the possibility that there might be something better.

Some of the arguments I've read here have been kind of snobbish. To turn up our collective noses at the mere thought of a new design is very elitist indeed.

As a designer, I pride myself on my ability to be open-minded, and try to consider all options very carefully to be sure I've made the best decision. AT&T has an opportunity here. And I am intrigued and excited to see what they come up with.

Will the original globe logo be better? Possibly. But to criticize this harshly before we've even seen the new solution? Come on--let's get off our soap boxes.
Ryan Paul
11.01.05
10:04

While I'm naturally inclined to support the preservation of graphic icons, I do have to play the devil's advocate for a moment. When we lose a famed icon of architecture, we lose the whole experience. We not only lose the visual affect on the landscape. We also lose the sense of internal flow and volume...the sense of the experience in three dimensions. We lose the ability to walk around it, and to walk through it. We lose the sense of how light plays off its textures and through its windows. We lose the sense of scale. We lose the sense of how sound reverberates through it. We lose all the good stuff. Two-dimensional documentation doesn't do it justice.

When we lose a graphic icon such a logo, we may lose its affect on the visual landscape. (That is, we'll no longer be seeing it on delivery trucks, ads, signs, and the like.) But we haven't truly lost a logo in the same sense that we lose a piece of architecture. Since great logos were designed to retain impact as small black & white marks, we never truly lose them as long as we have a published record of them.

True, a great identity systems is implemented with a richness that can be lost. But I don't get the sense that we're mourning the loss of the system here as much as the loss of the mark itself.
Daniel Green
11.01.05
10:17

Ryan Paul,

You're selling this pretty hard. And you seem to be very strategically positioned to get a nice bit of work from a new AT&T identity. Give some disclosure here. Are you working on this? If you're in a legally binding situation, just give us a little "no comment" or a winkie or smiley.

To me the issue isn't so much about losing a Rand icon. It's about sensible corporate identity and branding. That seems to be a big component of Michael Bierut's position on this as well.

I'm no branding superstar with connections to this project, just a passionate observer of real "brand strategy." Most of us fans on the sidelines will have no choice but to give it a chance and consider the possibilities. However, I'm getting a real sense of faulty logic with this move. Getting a real sense from the press release that this new branding effort is more about investors rather than consumers. If it were about consumers, wouldn't it serve the new strategy more to keep the existing identity mark and create a new updated name? The consumer would recognize the company, but know that the organization is now entering a "new era." That Rand mark could easily fit nearly any new brand strategy. But how can the lingering connection to the original American Telephone & Telegraph name possibly do that?

How about KFC as an example here? Kentucky Fried Chicken dropped their name for similar reasons. But KFC as a brand name didn't work to make a disconnection from the fried, unhealthy food concept. Everyone will always associate the brand with fried chicken. Because, well, they sell fried chicken and always have and always will. If, God help us, they decided to move on to the new sushi market, would it be appropriate for them to drop Colonel Sanders, but keep KFC? Yeah, the name's got a lot of brand equity on paper. But...
BlueStreak
11.01.05
10:55

I've been following this post since Mr. B. posted it on Saturday and am more than a little surprised at how much steam this has picked up. Mostly it's from DM and Felix, I know how the vanguard of the old-school and the spark of the new-school like to butt heads, but their arguments supercede the origin of the post to the point of personal attacks.

The one thing that no one's really addressed is exactly how the preservation of an icon/logo/identity system should be put in effect. If we're going to discuss the option of preserviing it, we should also be discussing how it gets preserved. I hope that no one is thinking of making a company keep it in use despite the company's wishes. This would be the antithesis of why we opt to create a icon/logo/identity system in the first place.

The logo should be replaced in this instance because AT&T is no longer the company that Bass/Yager and Associates created the work for. The company has changed and the specs have change, therefor if the original team that Jerry Kuyper described above were to receive the creative brief last week for this new company's new identity system, the results would be different. I very sincerely doubt the original team would advise AT&T to keep the current logo for the sake of A) preserving history and B) because it continues to represent AT&T faithfully. SBC bought AT&T so it's now SBC's show. Keeping the AT&T name is a bit of a charade, but at least they have the decency to incorporate a new identity.
Michael Holdren
11.01.05
11:58

The Death Star? Saul Bass's finest moment? Please.
Christopher Fahey
11.01.05
01:09

Michael Holdren:

Not to worry. That's how Me and Felix Co-Exist .
It's the BEST SHOW in Cyber Space.

Truth be known, Felix is JUST as OLD SCHOOL as
I am.

It's THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, in it's HEY DAY. When Robert Novak was a Regular Guest. He and John McLaughlin appeared to Get into a Fist Fight every Episode. GOOD FOR SWEEPS WEEK and Ratings.

BlueStreak:

Many thanks,and Heartfelt Appreciation. Me and Felix Back together again we can MOVE MOUNTAINS
and CHANGE and RULE THE WORLD!!!!

I'd be willing to put on THE DREAM TEAM working on Bierut or Paula's Staff.

Ryan Paul

"Rest assure the Identity replacing AT&T will be Pale in Comparison and Laughable at BEST".

"This statement is short-sighted. It fails to take into account that there are serious business objectives at stake. Don't forget, AT&T is a business. If an identity doesn't support and enhance its desired position in the marketplace, then it's time for a change. The notion that the AT&T globe should never change because it's "a classic" is just silly".

Ryan, my Dear Friend, Jerry is also a Friend and Mentor of Mine. While I don't know you personally, allow me to say you POSSIBLY know much more than you are letting on.
Since you are a Good Friend of Jerry The King Kuyper; I make a Moral Appeal to you to send this Editorial Discussion to THE POWERS That Be at SBC and AT&T.

And at the same time, I make a Moral Appeal that you provide Jerry Kuyper with the Contact Information to Edward E. Whitacre CEO of SBC.
In the Respect that Jerry can PITCH an Alternative Direction of Identity Revitalization. Other than the mis-information SBC and AT&T are already receiving. There are many different Alternatives and Solutions to Revitalizing AT&T's Current Identity in a Acquisition and Merger other than Killing the Bass Designed Identity.

"I also can't pass judgement on AT&T's (SBC's) decision to change this identity".

You ultimately cannot if you're connected with the Corporation SBC and AT&T in any way.
Sounds like you are.
It's Essentially Corporate Double Talk; Meaningless, Esoteric and Vague!!!!!

"we can't just cast aside a company's decision to embark upon a new identity. We don't know the objectives, haven't seen the strategy, haven't studied the PowerPoint decks.

Ryan, again this is Corporate Insider Double Talk.

All Corporations go through this. Depending on the Advice of their Identity Council is the Path they will be led down.

Bell Atlantic had three Super Star Identity Consultancies working on their Identity.

1. Lippincott & Margulies, who ultimately named the Corporation Verizon

2. Landor, whom created the Red Check Mark and created the V E R I O N

3. The Desola Group, whom created the Red Z and Developed and Designed the Identity Manuals.

This has been the most Criticized Identity in History. And Nobody likes it!!!!!!!!

I'll go on Record Saying SBC's Hideous Identity is Worse than Verizon.

Edward E. Whitacre has a History of BAD CHOICES for Identity Council beginning with The St. Louis Based Public Relations Firm Fleishan Hillard.
It doesn't take a ROCKET SCIENCE to understand this GUY has Very Little Respect and Regard for Corporate Identity.

You can Dress that up any way you want to Ryan. Ed Whitacre has a Terrible Track Record in regard to Corporate Identity Matters.

For the Record, Please inform what Designer; Consultancy or Firm Destroyed the Globe Identity
by making it 3 Dimensional.

There was nothing wrong with the Original Globe Sphere. Jerry Rendered it to create the Illusion of 3 Dimensions.

Somebody at AT&T got Terrible Advice from a Consultant to change the Globe to 3 Dimensions with Computer Quackery.

My Friend Mr. Thomas Ruzicka AT&T Design Manager
1968-1984 and many other(s) from Bass Yager were Baffled and Distraught over the Bastardization of Blatant Disrespect for a PERFECT and FLAWLESS Identity.

Your Comments are Appreciated.

Ping Me at the email address listed so we can further discuss this TRAVESTY!!!!!!!

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
01:19

But my point is this: We need to consider the possibility that there might be something better.

Ryan P., the fact that SBC has chosen to keep the name suggests to me that there isn't anything better. SBC bought AT&T principally for it's brand value, and the "Death Star" (love it or hate it) is an integral part of that brand. If the name communicates "innovation, quality and reliability," so does the mark. By detaching one from the other, SBC is diluting the very thing they purchased in the first place. It doesn't matter if the new solution ends up being brilliant: it will still signify a break with decades of amassed equity.

I agree with Marian that the globe, like the letters AT&T, is (for the most part) an empty vessel. There is no inherent strategy within it beyond what's been poured into it.

Also, that line from the press release ("The brand known worldwide for telecommunications innovation, quality and reliability will soon become synonymous with the transition to a new era of integrated communications and entertainment services.") inspires absolutely no confidence. How do "innovation, quality, and reliability" relate to "a transition to integrated communications and entertainment"? Why would you replace timeless adjectives with something as ephemeral as a "transition"?

BTW, Jerry Kuyper sounds like an incredibly cool guy.
Jose Nieto
11.01.05
01:29

the bigger problem here is one of corporate responsibility in the social realm, as epitomized by mergers of this kind. we can't expect the same minds who facilitate monopolies to understand (or care) about the merits of one logo vs. another.
aaron
11.01.05
01:37

Ryan:

Don't Publicly comment on my inquiry.
I posted without checking your website.
I've sent you a private email, and trust
you will respond when you have time.

Jose Nieto:

Inasmuchas I respect Marian and Consider her a very Dear and Trusted Friend. She is emphatically wrong or should I say off base in her assessment of the AT&T Identity.

As someone whom owns the Identity Manuals and also Own a Copy of the Ideation Process of the Development and Design of the Globe Sphere.

The AT&T Corporate Signature is simply THE WORLD with COMMUNICATION LINES (Information Bits) encircling it.

If I could send you a copy of the Animation Tag that Saul Bass created for Media Advertisement. Then you would better understand how the Identity is well suited to the Corporation. Nothing has been POURED INTO THE Identity.

If you understand how Semiotics and Semantics work.
The Language of Communicating in Symbols and Signs you better understand the Identity.

I once showed this Identity to someone that was not the SHARPEST PENCIL in the Box and they told me it was a Symbol of the World with Telephone Lines. I swear this Guy had never been in a Design Class. In Fact he had very little education. He was absolutely correct. Although, telephone lines used to be above ground. They were underground at the time this Symbol was Designed.

The AT&T Corporate Signature is the Epitome of Identity Excellence conveying the Corporate Message and Brand in a MINIMALIST VOCABULARY. And only PAUL RAND'S IBM has equaled Bass' AT&T in conveying the Corporate Message. Meaning Goals and Asperations.

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
02:16

Wow. This has gotten very ugly, and I resent the accusations. There is no need to take such a nasty tone. Thus far, I have been very careful not to say anything belligerent, and I certainly haven't made any personal attacks. You all are getting VERY PERSONAL, and you need to stop.

Let me clear the air right now:

I do not have a stake in this project. To my knowledge, neither does my employer. I do not work for any of the usual suspects (Lippincott Mercer, FutureBrand, Enterprise IG, Interbrand, Landor). I don't have any insider information, and am not connected to SBC or AT&T in any way.

Here's my only disclosure: As a freelancer, about 3 years ago, I assisted a boutique design firm on the development of an AT&T brand website. I will not mention the name of the firm that I was freelancing for at the time.

I had zero face time or correspondence with the client, and formed no relationship with the client. The site we developed no longer exists today.


I have no idea whatsoever who the new agency of record is.

My stance on this entire topic is the result the forum's violent reactions against the proposed identity change. The comments were extremely biased and quite unfair.

I posted my views to offer another perspective. The basis for this perspective was my branding and design experience. This is exactly the type of analysis that I would expect from the big firms. I do not have an ulterior motive here.

DesignMaven, you said "you ultimately cannot (pass judgment) if you're connected with the Corporation SBC and AT&T in any way. Sounds like you are."

Well, I'm not. Do you really think I'd jeopardize a client relationship as big as AT&T so I could spout my views in a web forum like this? Give me a break.

You also suggest that I'm withholding information from Jerry Kuyper. HOW DARE YOU. I have complete respect for him, both professionally and personally. Your suggestion is highly offensive.

"For the record, please inform what Designer; Consultancy or Firm Destroyed the Globe Identity by making it 3 Dimensional."

Now you're just testing me. I don't claim to have all the answers. I have my suspicions, but I won't go on the record with it. For the record, I never liked it.
Ryan Paul
11.01.05
02:23

Ryan Paul:

Thanks for clearing the air. You alluded to the possibility that you knew more than you actually did.

I asked that if you were familiar with the Players to send them the link and provide Jerry information to sources.

Forgive me for trying to assist a Friend.

Sorry BUD. I didn't Accuse you of anything.

My knowledge is informed intelligence as a Practitioner of Identity Design. All of the Identity Revitalizations since the Deaths of Bass and Rand has been LACK LUSTER TO SAY THE LEAST.

History has revealed that. The current Identity Merger & Acquisition by Sprint a Lippincott & Margulies Design is not better than Jerry Kuyper's Original. It's actually worse.

As well as the Bell Atlantic / Verizon Revitalization. Worst than the Original.

You offered your informed Analysis and it is Respected in this Forum.

Don't think because you offered an opinion it you will not be questioned and challenged.

I totally Ignored your POST until a friend emailed me this morning to informed ME you CALLED ME OUT!!!!!!!

Your word is not Final Verdict in this Debate.

Ryan, You Drew First Blood by pulling one of my POST and CALLING IT SHORT SIGHTED AND SILLY.

IT WAS YOU LOOKING FOR A FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!
and perhaps some NAME RECOGNITION with THE MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE ONE!!!!!!!!!!

Not Me!!!!!!!!!!!

HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
03:10

Nothing has been POURED INTO THE Identity.

But Maven, decades of "brand equity" have been poured into the identity. As previously noted, there are thousands of similar circles-with-lines (I know it represents a globe, but it is not, in fact, a globe) in use and none of them have exactly this iconographic resonance as this one standing for AT&T.

For the record I have made no assumptions as to what may or may not come out of the new mark, and I'm fully open to the fact that it may be brilliant; but i maintain that it is not only unecessary, but imho misguided to change it.

Some very good points have been made here about the practicality of preserving a graphic design, and Daniel Green's points about the difference in losing a piece of architecture to this issue are very good ones. Also, Michael Holdren's question:

The one thing that no one's really addressed is exactly how the preservation of an icon/logo/identity system should be put in effect

is something I wish I could answer off the top of my head, but obviously it would require a great deal of thought, planning, conferencing etc. and hey, I'm not Michael Bierut.

This is a point which we often come to in blogs and other forums, where we raise questions, voice opinions, but when actually being put to the task of solving issues ... well that's a major task force and it obviously ain't going to happen here.

The short answer being "I don't know." But I still think it's a concept worthy of contemplating. And I'm sure the issues were similar before people started preserving buildings. Buildings are private property: who is to tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their property? What if it's too small on valuable land (in e.g. Manhatten)? What if the interior layout, and room sizes no longer work for this modern environment? Sell it you say? To whom? Who would buy such a building? These are questions which were faced decades ago and somehow overcome because some people decided that buildings are also part of historical and social culture. Is graphic design?
marian bantjes
11.01.05
03:12

as an aside, i think its interesting to consider saul bass as a model for a designer who does a lot of different kinds of work. there's saul bass the identity / branding designer, and saul bass the film titles designer, and his work was at the top of both fields, and employed very different techniques and kinds of expertise.

from the aiga link that michael bierut posted:

"It's a cliché, but Saul Bass really has done it all. Films. Packaging. Products. Architecture. Corporate identification. Graphics. His work surrounds us. Pick up the telephone and you're hard-pressed not to recall Bass's ubiquitous Bell System symbol and look. Take a plane—United, Continental, Frontier: Saul Bass. Go to a film—Psycho, Anatomy of a Murder, Exodus, Spartacus, The Man With the Golden Arm, Advise & Consent, Such Good Friends: Saul Bass. In the supermarket or in the kitchen—Wesson, Quaker, Alcoa, Lawry's, Dixie: Saul Bass. Relax with a magazine, read a book, watch TV, take some pictures—Saturday Evening Post, Warner, Minolta: Saul Bass. Give to charity—The United Way, Girl Scouts: Saul Bass. Strike an Ohio Blue Tip match."

it would be interesting to thumb through saul bass identity manuals while watching his movie titles. such different worlds, but both mastered very well.
manuel
11.01.05
04:03

Marian:

Thanks for your astute observation. You're looking at the Marketing and Communication aspect of the Program. I understand.

My point of contention was dealing with the Symbol in Semiotic Terms.

Stroke of Genius

I just got a WONDERFUL IDEA on How to Solve this Madness and Chaos. Without MY DREAM TEAM or the Bass Yager, Original Players.

Original Idea if anybody STEALS IT. I'm going POSTAL.

If the Globe Sphere is going to be Discarded
and no longer in use.

JUST STRIPE THE FREAKEN AT&T LOGOYPE. Just like the GLOBE!!!!!!! It'll still be Saul's. With Striations incorporated of course. To differentiate it from IBM Stripes.

AM I NOT THE KEEPER OF THE FLAME???

THAT'S IT, PROBLEM SOLVED!!!!!!!!!

DAMN, I'm a GENIUS!!!!!!!!

You can't PAY FOR THIS KIND OF INTELLIGENCE!!!!

I'll Present this NEW AT&T Logotype to
Ed Whitacre by Email by email or in person.

Jerry, get your PENCIL and PAD OUT.

This is the only SOLUTION THAT WILL FLY and certainly a NEW DIRECTION.

Eat your HEART OUT SOCKWELL, YOU WISH YOU WERE THIS GOOD.

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
04:04

Stripe the AT&T logotype?

Been there, done that - 20 yeas ago - and as a joke more recently.

I see swooshes, many swooshes, each one polished and glowing...
Jerry Kuyper
11.01.05
04:31

A footnote, Maven, in fairness to Landor, who did design the Verizon check mark (Margaret Youngblood directing) and what I am told was a cool and elegant system the client failed to appreciate. They fired Landor and turned to DeSola Group who added the Z to create VERION.

And yes, Jerry is a very cool guy. Back to work, now.
Tony Spaeth
11.01.05
04:43

It's REALLY hard to take you seriously now, Frank.

Aaron said it best a few posts up, the minds behind these mergers don't give two shits. They can't do or make anything anymore. Can't innovate. Can't invent. Can't lead. Can't get out of the way. The only things they can do/control are from the bottom line up. And they best way to pull off the ruse of doing something, is to change marks willy nilly. "We're agents of change!", comes the cry. The genius or lack-of-genius behind a mark...

Just. Doesn't. Matter.
Steve Mock
11.01.05
04:46

Maven, your point is well taken -- there was a development process and a rationale to the AT&T sphere. As Marian pointed out, though, with time, a good mark become much more than it's original idea. In any event, I would love to see Saul Bass's original animation tag, so feel free to send it over.

I see swooshes, many swooshes, each one polished and glowing...

Thanks for the laugh, Jerry...
Jose Nieto
11.01.05
05:05

Not that anyone cares, but:

Please let me stand corrected that AT&T Wireless is NOT the new name of the merged company, but that Cinegular is. (Or however you spell it.)

I guess I just have visions of the AT&T logo merging into the Cingular logo at the end of the commercials and so hadn't noticed what remained.

This may very well underscore the importance of the AT&T logo (or it's familiarness).

I still stand by the notion, however, that as much as I admire historic preservation, I completely understand the view that keeping things around for the sake of oldness is a concept that has contributed to sprawl. Imagine if New York hadn't been built up and torn down for centuries before the modern era -- well it would look practically like DC (whose metro region sprawls all the way to West Virginia.)

The Japanese (who allegedly respect design heritage, but who destroyed the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Imperial Hotel) regularly build up and tear down. In fact, many of their "historic" temples are just reconstructed again and again on the original location. I guess thats what happens when you live on an island and you have limited room to grow.
DC1974
11.01.05
05:24

i don't think anyone is suggesting that we keep logos because they are old, only that logos respect their own context and history. some large brands seem to have realized this, and have ushered their marks through stages of development - a new dress on the paper doll as someone mentioned. quaker oats, john deere come to mind, though i won't say i *like* them as logos per se. what's happened, as someone else mentioned, is that marketing has swallowed design, rather than inform it. logos are not supposed to be fashionable, they are supposed to communicate.
aaron
11.01.05
05:38

Maestro Spaeth:

Thanks for the insight into History. I was Privy all three work on it. Never was Privy Landor
was replaced. You learn something new everyday.

Jerry The King Kuyper:

Not the Swoosh, Please not the Swoosh.

I'm working on my Striped AT&T Logotype.
I'll Present it when the NEW and NOT improved
Dreaded Acquisition Merger Identity by whomever is unveiled.

This will be one for All MANKIND to Comment On
I cannot wait.

DC1974

Astute Observation on JAPANESE History and Culture.
The Japanese have Superseded Americans with Intelligent Identity Design.

Although, most of their Projects were commenced by American Identity Designers, Bass, Rand, Chermayeff & Geismar, Landor etc.

They make Informed and Intelligent Decisions.
They did get in Right with the Recent Acquisition and Merger circa 1993 of Konica Minolta.

Jose Nieto

I know Herb Yager is reading this and I have to be careful what I say in reference to my Bass Archives.

I have the AT&T Television Tag among Boxes and Boxes of Stuff. Depending on which version I find depends on whether or not I can release it.

If its the Television Commercial I taped from Television No Problem. If its something from the Bass Yager Design Consultancy, I cannot Release it and ultimately don't have the authority. Because said material is entrusted to me
For My Eyes Only.

It will take me ten years to find it with all the stuff I have in storage.

If I ever find my taped Television Version I'll make a mental note you want a copy.


DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
06:24

Follow Up

To all:

I'm in the process of sending this Editorial and Concerned Comments to Edward E. Whitacre

I will change the outcome of this Disaster waiting to happen.

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
09:01

As the 100th post, I have a peace offering to anyone I may have offended with my ranting...

Top Ten AT&T things to be happy about (I hope)

10. The new name isn't SBC.

 9. The new name isn't SBCAT&T.

 8. The new name isn't SCAT.

 7. The SBC yin-yang double swoosh will be retired.

 6. The AT&T globe won't be added to the SBC yin-yang double swoosh. 

 5. The double swoosh won't be wrapped around the globe unless SBC also acquires Saturn.

 4. The AT&T globe won't have polish added to the redundant shadow which was added to the original dimensional stripe illusion. 

 3. The AT&T globe won't have a nice gradated shadow added to the redundant shadow which was added to the original dimensional stripe to create the illusion of floating.

 2. Michael won't send this post and discussion to Edward Whitacre without spending hours editing it.

 1. The new company is too large to be acquired by Verizon.

 
Jerry Kuyper
11.01.05
09:04

Something in me makes me want to add:

0. The revolution will not be televised.
marian bantjes
11.01.05
09:09

Jerry:

I'm dying Laughing!!!!!



I can't top either one of you, so I'll BOW OUT Gracefully.

ONE HUNDRED POST, UNBELIEVABLE.

Thanks to all, MORE, MORE, MORE, MORE!!!!!

DM
DesignMaven
11.01.05
09:50

Yes we're going to have to begin the wrap up of this topic. Michael Bierut gets a nose bleed when the comments get up in the triple digits.

I'll wrap by saying sorry to Ryan Paul if my speculative questioning of your objectivity seemed personal. I wasn't accusing you of anything. I was/am curious about who's been handed this gem/curse of an identity project.

Jerry Kuyper, there is no way you can offer guarantees about swooshes. I feel reasonably certain there will be at least one swoosh element, several gradients, and probably an oversized-dot halftone pattern.

Dear Maven, my mentor had a phrase for you. "Go get 'em tiger." You're wasting your time on Whitacre though. He's going to spin this brand, flip it, then live a fat life.

We'll see. The globe is watching.
BlueStreak
11.01.05
10:02

Jerry Kuyper is a bad ass. Now I know why his parents gave him the middle name The King. What incredible foresight.
Ryan Nee
11.01.05
10:32

BlueStreak

"I was/am curious about who's been handed this gem/curse of an identity project".

You're more than likely correct my efforts will be a waste of time. I've been a Meddler all my life. Worst case scenario, you'll be coming to New York to work on one of the Teams. I automatically get Five Picks.

I was just sitting up looking at my DVR Taping of General Hospital. Yeah, Been a Fan for Thirty Years.

Wonderful Anecdote, I thought this was kind of Funny. Since I know everybody heavily criticizes this Consultancy or has something to say about their work. I like their work; maybe I'm the only one.

My Pick or Guess should be worth another 100 Post.

I'll begin by saying this.

There's an Old Saying.

"A Lie Will Travel Around the World Quicker than the Truth Can Get Up and Put its Shoes On".

It's Been Rumored, and I believe Based on Passed Steller Identity Design Experience.

1. UPS
2. United Way
3. Afflac
4. Bausch & Lomb

Many other Award Winning Identities of the
20th Century.

FutureBrand has been Commissioned to Revitalized AT&T

Not my Pick, Just my Guess!!!!!
And they did create a KICK ASS Identity for Bell Canada. The other note-worthy telecommunication Identity was for Telefonica, sort of like a Brush Script Lettering.

Marian or Michael, care to comment on Bell Canada. Your thoughts, Weinberger is no longer with FutureBrand of course.

Comments Please. FutureBrand; FutureBrand;
Ra, Ra, Ra!!!!!!!!


It's not a Joke!!!

Sneaky Suspicion

DM
DesignMaven
11.02.05
03:43

Someone please confirm this for me:

I was always under the inpression that FutureBrand was the company that added the shadow to the original AT&T globe.

Does anyone know for sure?
Ryan Paul
11.02.05
09:33

Bring back the bell!!
Menchi
11.02.05
12:21

DesignMaven, I checked with a couple sources that were familiar with the Bell Canada corporate identity. The original agencies that were part of the process were Cossette and its agencies, Graphème and Geyser; Bouvry, Bienvenu, Castonguay (BBC); Leo Burnett; and Vandenberg & Co. Along with those agencies, there was an internal design team too. I was also referenced an article by the Design Management Journal, spring 1996 "Consultants in concert: The making of Bell's New Corporate Identity".
Michael Surtees
11.02.05
03:09

wow - designmaven. you really know your corporate identity factoids. You must be a really, really great designer or, perhaps, in prison with just too much time on your hands. Please clarify for us.

Just curious...
alex
11.02.05
05:53

Michael:

Just Chiming In:

Thanks for setting the record straight.
I have FutureBrand's Capability Brochure and they list Bell Canada among their Identity Design Projects.

Could be actual Identity Design, Positioning, Brand Enhancement, Brand Extension, etc.

They also list Banco Santander as one of their Identity Designs. And I know that was Designed by Jerry Kuyper while at Landor.

Who knows, the Identity is shown among others under the Title Corporate Branding which allude to they Designed the Identity or Revitalized it.

Since it's Late, I'll scan the page from their Capability Brochure and send it to you.

DM

DesignMaven
11.03.05
01:16

DesignMaven

I directed the identity project for Banco Santander in the late 80's while at Landor. Betty Chang designed the mark and John Watson worked with me to refine the logo.

It was the only logo project I have presented where the board decided immediatly that direction was the right solution and didn't want to see the final alternative. FutureBrand did substantial additional work as the Bank expanded throughout Latin America.
Jerry Kuyper
11.03.05
12:51

Just a note to remind those anticipating the launch: it will unveil itself on the 24th of this month.
felix sockwell
11.11.05
08:48

The new at&t logo is released, Attached are several introductory documents. Enjoy.
Link
Link
Link
Link
Bill Gardner
11.21.05
09:40

Ug.

Terrrible logo, sorry.

Ryan Ullery
11.21.05
10:10

thx bill.

I believe its the ad campaign that releases on the 24th- in a few days... so any thoughts on this new mark?

It'll take some getting used to, but I think the evolution is carried through here quite seamlessly. An application in the Times today left me feeling like the b/w version falls bit short of the colored 3D version, but thats just another sign of the times.

felix sockwell
11.21.05
10:34

Going to a more humble and approachable lower case font makes all the sense in the world strategically.

That being said the ATT brand name comes with a lot of baggage and simply changing the font is not enough to shed all that unfortunate big, slow, bureaucratic baggage.

The name itself carries all the heritage of reliability. Personally I would have liked to see them develop a new symbol that worked with the new lowercase font to communicate a new era for at&t, an era yet to be fully defined, but one of speed, innovation, fun, and unbridled potential. Good Luck and congratulations at&t.
Bill Engler
11.21.05
11:16

the static logo seems a bit bland, if not down right ugly. Perhaps it will look better rotating, but that seems like a very 90's Internet Explorer kind of sollution and hardly innovative. Hmmm maybe if the rings rotate in different directions and speeds...
Andre SC
11.21.05
03:44

what'd that take, five minutes? "let's see... UPS took a beloved old logo and made it three dimensional with a gradient... hey- are you thinking what i'm thinking?!?..."

my first thought when i looked at it was that they were trying awfully hard to make you NOT look at the new globe, with the strong downward and to the right feel of the t&t. my eye just shoots southeast and never goes back. maybe that was the plan all along.
timm
11.21.05
07:52

It's time we drafted a designer (and client) version of the Hippocratic oath.
brendán Murphy
11.21.05
11:06

The issue of authorship seems to be hiding in here again. Do they deserve a great logo? As designers we tend to look at designs in formal and graphic-aesthetic terms, but it is still the client who writes the brief, selects the designers etc and signs the cheque - perhaps this logo is a very accurate reflection/representation of where AT&T/SBC are at?
Andre SC
11.22.05
02:22

I always wondered if the company that once used a "coffee stain" for a corporate logo could do it again...

They have!

Now we have a logo that looks like someone dropped a ping-pong ball through a food proccesor!

(please forgive my spelling)

S. De Chellis
11.23.05
11:16

As the manager of corporate identity (retired) and having worked so closely with Saul, Herb, and Tony Asher for more years than I can remember I feel a certain sense of loss. I managed the use of the AT&T identity with almost an iron glove. The ad agencies had real problems with that but hey ... tough love. After retiring in 2000 I wondered what would happen now that the "new turks" were in control. Well, you see what happened. But what troubles me is this: AT&T will continue to serve business customers more than residential (if any) and I just don't agree that a change in the logo is a wise choice. If I was looking for security, stamina, history, trust, technologically advanced, and attuned-to-business I wouldn't necessarily buy the "new coke.' eh ... that's just me.
Philip Butta
11.25.05
01:30

Hi.

I thinks it's terrible how easily the designers of today destroy the classic masterpieces. First they exchange the UPS logo. And it sucks. Now another classic. Look at the new logos. They are just one thing: crap!

The new at&t (that's the new way to write it.. haha) is just another piece of work by a generation that has lost most of the knowledge that the pioneers like Rand and Bass worked for so hard.

With one easy swipe they just woosh it away and have the arrogance to say the old IDs were getting dusty. Good design can never become dusty. And the worst part of their arrogance is sadly: They thing they can do better.

I think this has to do with the loss of knowledge that is going on everywhere.

To sum it all up: OH MY GODZ THE NU LOGOZ SUCKZ BIG TIMEZ!!

Sorry for the lamenting ;)
Till
12.01.05
07:24

Hi.

I thinks it's terrible how easily the designers of today destroy the classic masterpieces. First they exchange the UPS logo. And it sucks. Now another classic. Look at the new logos. They are just one thing: crap! And not only because they're not well done..

The new at&t (that's the new way to write it.. haha - we change from AT&T to at&t.. brilliant work) is just another piece of work by a generation that has lost most of the knowledge that the pioneers like Rand and Bass worked for so hard.

With one easy swipe they just woosh it away and have the arrogance to say the old IDs were getting dusty. Good design can never become dusty. And the worst part of their arrogance is sadly: They thing they can do better.

I think this has to do with the loss of knowledge that is going on everywhere.

Sorry for the lamenting ;)
Till
12.01.05
07:29

micheal, just got around to reading your oct. 30 post on professionalism.
have i ever told you i loved you?
xoxoxo
marc english
12.02.05
01:01

Incredibly late to the conversation...but I find it hard to believe that Interbrand was unaware of Red Dot while redesigning AT&T. Even the type treatment is similar.

Red Dot
AT&T
Josh
02.20.06
07:13

right but red dot is much better that at&t. it is apity to see design sink to such a low point.
Giorgio
02.23.06
10:28

Am I the only one that sees in the AT&T logo the clapper ball on the inside of a bell flattened as it strikes the inside of the bell?

Enjoyed the commentary. Mike
Michael Jekot
02.16.07
05:13

This is an old thread, but I'm curious as to what Design Maven thinks of the new logo...
Andy Malhan
04.04.07
02:48



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