The New York Times last week reported on the new logo that has just been unveiled for the new World Trade Center downtown.
Is it me, or is it underwhelming and totally nondescript? It took the Times writer several sentences to explain the meaning of the new logo. The five bars, for example, represent the five buildings on the site. The two bars on the lower part of the logo represent the two pools at the 9/11 memorial. The slope of the top of the bars is pitched at 17.76 degrees, representing the 1776-foot heigfht of the new tower. Clever, I suppose, but if the nuances of the logo need to be explained, maybe they're too subtle or too esoteric. Maybe they'd work if the logo itself looked distinctive or striking, rather than some boring and rectangles that sort of look like a candelabra.
The criminal thing here is that the Port Authority, which owns the space, paid corporate identity firm Landor Associates $3.57 million to create the logo. Maybe all those nuances are what they did to justify their hefty fee.
It makes me think of when another high-priced corporate identity firm -- Lippincott & Margulies -- created a new logo for NBC, back in 1976. They were paid "only" about $750,000, which would be about $3.1 million in today's dollars. So NBC got a bargain, compared to what Landor charged the Port Authority.
But not really. After spending all that money, it turned out that the new NBC logo looked extremely similar to the logo that Nebraska Educational TV had been using for two years. Nebraska ETV sued NBC, which settled out of court by giving Nebraska ETV $800,000 worth of broadcast equipment and $55,000 to pay a lower-priced firm to develop a new logo for them. NBC kept the million-dollar design. I don't know if Lippincott & Margulies refunded any of the fee for not doing proper research. (Maybe research would have cost NBC another $500,000.)
I wonder if Landor will give back some of its fee (paid for by taxpayers, by the way) for a boring logo that needs to be explained to make sense? Landor is the same firm that designed the FedEx logo, which works. But I'd say they really blew it on this project.