May 11/18
By Joe Ross

Opinion: Best Buy’s new logo

More and more shoppers are moving their purchases online for both convenience and price. So it’s no surprise that Best Buy, one of the last remaining big box electronic stores, would be looking to update their brand. And that’s exactly what they did earlier this week. The rebranding of a retail giant like Best Buy is no small feat, so I felt compelled to weigh in on their new logo.

The old logo

First lets evaluate Best Buy’s old logo. The shape, color scheme, off-kilter angle and ultra thick type made it an iconic and unique mark amongst the competitive electronic retailer landscape. The use of a tag to encase the type was clever considering their biggest differentiator was to beat the pricing of “the other guys.” The typography does lack refinement, almost as if the font was squeezed disproportionately into the tag, and the angled terminals of the ‘S’ cause some undue tension within the tightly kerned space. But overall, not a bad logo, especially considering it was created almost 30 years ago.

The new logo

Let’s begin with what they got right. Maintaining a bold sans serif type was a smart move. Not completely ditching the tag was another wise choice, as well as holding on to the iconic bright yellow color. Considering the new tag’s placement next to the type, removing it’s outer stroke and leveling it to 90 degrees, were also solid adjustments.

But there were several missteps. Using the tag as an accent, rather than an encasing shape, perhaps makes sense as a subtle nod to a more online retail experience. Where things get problematic is within the arrangement of the centered type. This may be an attempt to maintain ties to the centered type of the original logo (which needed to be centered to maximize it’s size within the tag) but with the addition of the tag at the bottom, the new composition feels awkward and imbalanced.

The new letterforms took a half-step in a better direction, but now feel as though they’re collected from several different typefaces. The compressed height of the B’s, compared to the narrow stance and thick uniform stroke of the ‘S,’ stand out the most. While tightly kerning the logo could have been a good approach, in this case the kerning is so air-tight it feels like the letterforms should touch. Instead, the hairline gaps between letters create visual tension. Speaking of visual tension, the angled terminals of the ‘S’ are now more pronounced within this word mark. In terms of background color, a flat field of their iconic blue may have been a stronger backdrop for the bold type and bright yellow tag.

The final judgement

It’s easy to critique a logo from a distance. But without visibility into the process, it’s impossible to know what factors led to Best Buy’s new mark. With brands as large as Best Buy, rebranding can be especially challenging due to the number of stakeholders that tend to weigh in. If not managed properly, the rebranding process can be a victim of ‘design by committee,’ in which case excellence is rarely the outcome. That being said, the new Best Buy logo appears to be a story of good intentions and missed opportunities. The true measure of success will be in how this new brand identity is expressed across consumer touch points, and whether or not it can help a fading retailer successfully reposition itself for the digital economy.

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