GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Swiss Wine Promotion’s new logo and visual identity have been out in the world for five days; I’ve held off commenting until today because good logos, like good wines, need time to breathe. We need time to consider them.
Do I like it? My first reaction was yes, and it it still is. Am I wild about it? No, but then I can’t think of a single logo I’d say that about.
What logos do
Logos have a job to do, and if there is a good reflection process behind them, and they are visually pleasing enough, we should let them get on with it. They have to work large and small, in different situations. I’ve seen it on bags, giftwrap, a barrel and printed materials, tiny and over-sized. It’s easy to spot.
Hardly anyone really likes change, and we balk at whatever is new and different until we’re used to it. I worked for Time magazine when it introduced a “people” section that was part of one page. The outcry from staff and readers alike was loud, very loud. The bosses were adament, and my bureau chief gave me a useful piece of advice: don’t listen to opinions about new features until they are six months old.
Despite the outcry, it turned out to be one of the most popular features of the magazine and soon after, the company started People magazine. The newest member of the Time-Life family turned out to be the best-selling magazine in the US.
Later, I worked in public relations and I was responsible for new logos, new magazine covers, new web sites. I never forgot that advice about waiting six months, and each time it turned out that the bulk of people against a change came to appreciate it and wondered why they had liked the former logo or cover so much. People swore The Times and Le Monde would die once they went for more modern looks. Not so, and those old dense and skinny black ink columns now look unreadable. Why did we like them?
Grapes and crosses
Two complaints I’ve heard about the new wine logo are that the Swiss cross is missing and that the new logo doesn’t say “wine”. There are good reasons for both.
Tyler Brûlé, the founder of Winkreative, the agency that came up with Swiss Wine Promotion’s logo, told me after the press presentation that the agency has only done one other wine branding job, and that for a relatively small winery outside Switzerland.I’m pretty sure he and his team researched winery and wine organizations’ logos thoroughly and with a fresh eye, and they must have noticed quickly that if you use grapes, you look like everyone else.
The Swiss cross, as the agency notes, conveys the idea of Swiss quality succinctly. It is also used massively, more or less in the same way.
A logo has to be different to work. It shouldn’t explain, but represent. It needs to be contemporary, to please our shifting (often unconsciously) notions of design.
Here are a few others to consider:
The old Swiss Wine Promotion logo
Vinea Association’s new logo, spring 2014
New Swiss Cheese logo September 2013
Victorinox Swiss army knives
Wines from Burgundy
European Confederation of Independent Wine Growers