DC – The Pepsi of Comic Brands

DC Comics LogoDetective Comics announced this week that they will once again be changing their logo. They are timing the launch of the new brand with the release of their Rebirth story line which will once again retcon and reset the DC universe. In that regard it’s kind of fitting. Only they already have the brand up and running on all their digital media, so it’s not really being launched with anything except the start of an arbitrary week.

DC's first logo from 1940.
DC’s first logo from 1940.

The logo design throws back to the earlier days of the comic company without being an exact copy of their first actual logo. It’s much closer to the 1972 block logo than any of the original 1940’s branding in actual fact.

DC Block Logo 1972
DC Block Logo 1972
DC Bullet 1976
DC Bullet 1976

If you have been reading DC comics for any significant length of time you’ll likely know the 1976 “The DC Bullet” logo more than anything else. You may also know it as the one that kind of looks like Captain America’s shield (*cough*). That’s the one the company help from ’76 all the way to 2005 when they gave the company the 2000’s look with “The DC Spin”.

DC Spin 2005
DC Spin 2005

The problem is that this is the 7th major overhaul of the branding. Changing a brand isn’t a bad thing. But doing so in an industry where you’re constantly trying to maintain the old consumers while attracting new ones, it can hurt you if your target audience can’t recognize your brand. A good comparison is Pepsi Cola. For better or worse Pepsi has also had 7 major brand overhauls. As you read this I dare you to try and remember off hand exactly what their current branding is. What colour is the word “Pepsi” written in? Now if I asked you the same thing about Coca Cola, you would know right away. That’s the point right there.

DC 2011
DC 2011

The logo DC had before this week was sleek, clever and modern. For their motion brands like DC Entertainment it was even more so as the ”D” often peeled back to reveal a nod to the animation or movie you had just watched. It was a major departure from the Bullet of 76’-05’ but it also is very much in keeping with the times. The senior VP of marketing and global franchise management says “DC is home to the greatest Super Heroes and Super-Villains, and the new logo has the character and strength to stand proudly alongside DC’s iconic symbols…”. Sure it will stand along side of them, but it’s not as strong as they are, it’s not embracing the change in the company and readers the other iconic symbols are, and it’s not even a full on throw back to the logo we know and love. It’s something they will change again and throw away in the very near future.

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