It’s good to talk … about it.

Before I start to write my opinion piece regarding the new brand identity work for BT, I have a confession to make: I’m really not a fan of this organisation. I have good reason. Over the years they have lied to me with fraudulent over-claims of their digital offer; they have cheated me by insisting I sign contracts for services, I later realised, they simply could not provide – even though they promised they could. And they have bullied me with threats of legal action if I stopped paying the contract … even though they failed to deliver! They have cost me huge amounts of money along the way with their arrogant monopoly of the market. My personal experience and their lack of customer care means I now use alternatives whenever possible. For me BT stands for Blooming Terrible. So, when it comes to reviewing their new identity it’s difficult not to be biased but I shall endeavour to analyse it professionally.

In recent years, for all competitive organisations, the paramount branding consideration has been simplification. This necessity is born from the needs of the digital realm. All consumer facing brands must perform. First & foremost on the mobile phone interface. A small, visually ‘noisy’, very fleeting experience that is exceptionally demanding for any brand. Regimented Social Media layouts have pushed logos into small, predominately circular spaces and the elaborately designed logos of yesteryear do not perform well in this restricted arena.

Before I start any client presentation I like to talk through a series of recently produced branding examples to gain understanding and confidence prior to my recommendations. I usually show how the ‘big guns’ have striped back their branding: M&S, Premier League, Mastercard to name a few. These brands lead the way for simplification.

This is all well and good but as an industry we may just be failing ourselves and our clients with the simplification quest? The need to resonate within an area no bigger than 110x110pixels is real – but the crucial thing that is required when creating a new brand identity … is identity. As a consequence of the rush to master digital legibility we’re in danger of killing this fundamental requirement. To design an identity that will be celebrated by the people working for it and the customers that engage with it, an identity must capture the true essence of the brand. The personality must resonate via its logo.

Logos are easy. Child’s play in fact. You can buy a logo for $5 online. It takes minutes to produce. All of those statements are thrown at our industry constantly. All of those statements are wrong. Go down that route and your company is in trouble from the very start. To design a unique marque is no mean feat; there is much consideration required for optimised performance.

Back to BT. Philip Jansen, the CEO, has stated that “the new mark symbolises real change.” Has he got it wrong? I’ve not seen the full roll-out of the work so it’s too early to make a true judgement …and who am I to make to such a critique anyway? I’m just a Creative Director in a ‘provincial’ agency called Lionhouse that works with smaller, challenger brands …although some are, in my defence, nationally recognised.

As it looks today BT may have missed an opportunity in their quest for simplification. Amongst many others, Poundland’s immediate Twitter response ridiculing BT’s work has belittled the effort. Their response is genuinely funny  https://bit.ly/2VE89Ll

You may expect my opinion to be damning too: the logo simply isn’t good enough. It’s basically a piece of type in a circle, It’s does not instil pride. It does not engage, delight or stand-out. It doesn’t represent real change. BT’s very functional marque has failed to meet the needs of the brand. There is no identity here. Function over form. This paragraph is stacked with facetious and negative comments that you’ll find screaming from the national press. But not from me.

BT’s beautifully simple, well proportioned, kerned and cut typographic logo represents a contemporary brand fully in-tune with the demanding requirements to deliver consistent brand presentation across today’s plethora of promotional needs. I’ve no doubt there’s so much more to come. For me, right now this well considered and modern graphic design is very cool. It will serve BT well for at least the decade ahead. And that is money well invested.

Les Welch
Creative Director