New: Logo and visual system
Launched: January 7, 2008
Story in brief:
rebranding. For forty-six years,
Xerox has struggled with its name's overpowering association
with "copier." The last big pushback was in 1994. As I wrote
then, "To change a meaning so deeply seated in our minds
requires heroic efforts. In another case it might be cheaper in
the long run simply to change the name. A second-best strategy
would be to change the logo." But instead, in 1994 "Landor
proposed shouting a slogan 'The Document Company,' and to
hedge that bet proposed a new X, kind of a second logo for
promotional uses -- the identity equivalent of an employee on
Well, the X was never really fired; nor was it given a real job
to do, and ultimately it just faded into retirement. Almost by
default, Xerox then reverted to the proudly corporate posture of its
classic presence, the 1961 Lippincott logo as redesigned by
Chermayeff & Geismar in 1968 . The "copier" problem remained.
According to brand officer Richard Wergan, "Our
business had evolved; our brand, a $6 billion asset, had not. Our
visual system, although well designed, was designed for print media;
customers now access us via the Internet. We needed a brand we could
protect and leverage in the digital environment, the key to the
future of Xerox."
This was not rushed. Interviews, planning, design and
deliberation took a full two years, with CEO Anne Mulcahey "engaged
and supportive." In the end, a mark with a symbol was chosen
"to disrupt the mental model," and in hopes of finding a more
emotional connection with employees and customers. The symbol
itself, a monogram disguised as a ball, was rounded in part to
enhance its 'button' utility. Its x-crossed lines (called "the
connectors") provide the basis for the wavy-lines graphic device
that dominates a new visual system (which also features "one
of the broadest color palettes of any Fortune 5oo company").
Corporate Brand Matrix ratings: 100% strategic
C.E.O. - Anne Mulcahey
C.B.O. - Richard Wergan, VP Global Branding & Advertising
Identity counsel and design - Interbrand;
Q. Malandrino, team leader
Strategy: Can't argue with it; rebranding
was called for. To make us rethink "Xerox," from outside or
inside, we needed a jolt. We needed to be in effect
distracted from the name -- hard to do, with another
Execution: A symbol, yes; but this one?
...to me an illustration more than a symbol - and a playful,
toy-like illustration at that (beach ball? croquet? bocce?). I'm
not sure I want this much coziness from a technology leader.
And I am puzzled by the choice of letterforms whose most
distinctive feature is shared with Kodak, historically a direct
competitor; what's the intention here?
Emotion: A sense of loss, for the
proud and confident corporate Xerox I once knew and respected.
It had stature, expressed in the restrained
symmetry of its 1968 logo. The new brand feels... diminished;
just another player. But maybe that's the point: as a player, it has
a fighting chance.
Bob Wolf: Is there an apparent concept? Not
to me. Is it distinctive and memorable? Not to me. Can I look at it
and say ‘I wish I did that’? You know my answer to that one.
Michael Bierut: I wish I was dead.
Responding for Xerox:
[In the choice of symbol, a perhaps toy-like
ball; was there an intent to lighten up the businesslike
From a design perspective our intent is to assure, and research
demonstrates that we have done so, that we have an overall identity
system which is capable now of talking to a very broad audience. We
have our significant capability in the enterprise space, and thus
the decision makers that we deal with in that environment.
Increasingly our identity also needs to span the SMB space [small or
medium business] and be relevant and motivating to that audience
Overall we did a lot of research to understand the breadth of the
community and the different roles the brand need to have in
communicating with quite different target audiences. So absolutely,
when we came to the design piece, it’s been critical in our minds
that we make the brand and the overall design elements more
approachable and more human, slightly less formal. As we’ve done
that, we haven’t sacrificed any of the professional, dependable
image which Xerox has historically had, in spades. [But] the SMB
audiences need to understand that the Xerox brand is appropriate and
relevant for them, that we are not a business brand solely for big
The previous identity did not communicate that notion as clearly as
our new identity. We found the old identity system was not capable
of communicating some of the messages we wanted, or communicating in
the media we needed to reach that audience. The identity needs to
live in that [Internet] environment more than in the two-dimensional
environment, and that will be increasingly important. The
introduction of a marketing symbol, and a whole visual language
associated with that marketing symbol that can communicate different
emotions and different attributes, has been absolutely critical to
specifying the new Xerox.
[And the similarity of letterforms to the
The wordmark went through considerable research and creative
studies. This modification is solely to communicate what Xerox is
about, the attributes that we need to project, with the focus on
the Xerox brand and not any other. I can certainly say that when
you review the different creative routes and studies, I think one
needs to be cognizant of the competitive environment that you are
in; and we are very comfortable with our new wordmark and the
competitive context both within and outside our industry that this
new logo will reside in.
[What would you like to say to the generally
negative design critics?]
The important thing with these types of evolutions is to ensure
that there is a proper grounding, through research, to establish the
types of attributes and emotions that are attached to a new
identity. Certainly the research that we have undertaken suggests
that the attributes we need to have as a brand, and to communicate
to audiences, are communicated very effectively by this design.
To that end, as an organization we need to detach ourselves from
some of the more subjective views of the branding which are
inevitable when you are in an emotive, subjective space.
...1968, by Chermayeff & Geismar
and 1994, by Landor...
CEO Anne Mulcahey