renewed xerox-consciousness vs. busy work

Change of logo at Xerox; Where is it going with it? To build on a new type of xerox-consciousness, or busy work from and round the office of Anne M. Mulcahy? For additional clues, let's keep an eye on XRX.

This is the evolution of Xerox brand identity as expressed by its logo:

Meanwhile, here's what others are saying:


Anonymous said...

Xerox Hopes Its New Logo Doesn’t Say ‘Copier’

Still think copier when you hear the name Xerox?

The company knows that you do. And it is sick of it. Good grief, Xerox doesn’t even make stand-alone copiers any more.

These days, Xerox gets most of its revenue from machines that both print and copy, and that can be plugged into networks for use in offices and high-speed publishing. It has introduced 100 new products in the last three years. But it doesn’t want the Xerox name to conjure them up, either, given that services — like managing a company’s document flow — are a pretty fast-growing part of the product mix, too.

So this morning, Xerox unveiled what it says is the most sweeping transformation of its corporate identity since it dropped “Haloid” from the Haloid Xerox name in 1961. In a broadcast to employees, it announced that it would retire the staid red capital X that has dominated its logo for 40 years in favor of what Richard Wergan, vice president of advertising, calls “a brand identity that reflects the Xerox of today.”

The new logo consists of a bright red lowercase “xerox” that sits alongside a red sphere sketched with lines that link to form a stylized X. According to Anne M. Mulcahy, Xerox’s chief, that little piece of art represents the connection to customers, partners, industry and innovation.

Ms. Mulcahy insists that the Xerox brand already stands for all those things already, of course. But clearly she is banking that the new look will, perhaps subliminally, drive home the point that Xerox is, as she put it, “engaging and approachable” as well as “technologically savvy and eager to lead in the 21st century.” That’s a pretty tall task for a ball-and-X to accomplish. But Xerox points to a lot of research that says it is up to it.

Xerox and Interbrand, a brand consultancy that is a unit of Omnicom Group, spent more than 18 months interviewing some 5,000 people across the globe about their associations with the Xerox name. Then they set about figuring how they could best retain the nice things it stands for (dependability and stability), jettison the not-so-nice (formal, somewhat stodgy) — and, most importantly, add in such attributes as modern, innovative and flexible.

They wanted a logo that would work as well on the Internet and on a fast-moving bike as it does in print or on television. (Xerox is a sponsor of the Ducati Xerox World Superbike Team.)

“The Internet, sponsorships, all kinds of 3D icons — none of that existed when Xerox adopted its old logo,” said Maryann J. Stump, senior director of brand strategy for Interbrand. “And you can do animation with a symbol that you just can’t do with a wordmark.”

The Xerox/Interbrand team settled on lowercase letters because they seemed friendlier, and on a deeper red and a thicker font, to stand out better on the Web and on high-definition television. They chose a ball to suggest forward movement and “a holistic company,” Ms. Stump said. They also devised a series of variously-colored “connectors” — swirled lines, reminiscent of the ribbons used to connote support for AIDS and breast cancer research — that Xerox will etch on conference rooms at its new headquarters in Norwalk, Conn., and that it will use to connect images and text in commercials and advertisements.

Not everything about the logo is new. The research showed that people strongly associated Xerox with the color red, so that stayed. There was a bonus reason for keeping the color: Xerox sells heavily overseas, and “in the Asia/Pacific regions, the red resonates as good luck, prosperity and good will,” Ms. Stump said.

Xerox plans to display its new identity in a lot more places than it did the old. The ball, Ms. Stump said, is designed to be animated easily for use in multimedia formats, particularly in messages that can be beamed to handheld devices. A couple of these animated treatments are ready to roll: one has the new logo zooming backward and another shows a red background with a pattern of stripes that rotates as it recedes to form the new logo.

Mr. Wergan said that the new brand identity will underpin a “multimillion dollar campaign” in 2008, though he would not name a specific figure. Michael Moeller, a Xerox spokesman, was a bit more forthcoming, saying that the company had budgeted for a “double-digit percentage increase” in its spending on interactive and online media this year and a reduction in more traditional media like television and print.

The new branding will go live on the Xerox Web site today but Xerox said it expected that it would take as long as two years to finish converting all of its packaging, marketing materials, office stationery and signs to the new look.

Outside experts were divided on whether Xerox had hit on a brilliant plan or whether it was throwing good money after bad.

Simon Williams, president of the consulting firm Sterling Brands, said he thought the new logo was a home run. “Xerox just isn’t an old, fusty copier company anymore, but I’ll bet it is often still seen that way,” he said. “The lower-case name will be less intimidating, more about dialog than about being authoritative. And the logoptic” — meaning the ball — “adds energy, youthfulness and dynamism.”

Not so fast, countered Michael Watras, president of the brand consultancy Straightline International. As he sees it, nothing short of a name change will wrest Xerox from the grasp of its copier reputation. “They should have kept the Xerox brand on some products, but renamed the company.” he said. “Without that, this is money poorly spent. If I were a shareholder, I’d be outraged.”

Not surprisingly, Mr. Wergan disagrees. The new logo “is one of the most significant changes we could make to disrupt the mental model of our being a copier brand,” he insisted.

But, he conceded, the new logo is not enough on its own.

“Everything about the brand has got to reflect the modern Xerox,” he said. “So the changes to the visual identity are just part of a comprehensive brand evolution that will take place over the course of the next one, two, three years and beyond.”

Anonymous said...

my vote goes to "busy work." claudia deutsch doesn't ask the xerox folks any hard questions. she must have been convinced already.

Anonymous said...

When they changed to the digitized X, they also said this was their biggest brand identity transformation in the last umpteen years. Blah blah. A logo doesn't make a company... The company itself, the product line, and the communications both internally and externally have much more weight than the logo.

This from a happily reformed ex-Xeroid.

fCh said...

the best answer came from Corbet Curfman, Art Director at MarketFitz, Inc.

I think it is an attempt at a renewed xerox-consciousness, but methodology is getting in the way. Xerox is one of those rare companies that had achieved so much success that their name became included into our everyday language, much like Kleenex. The problem is that they were no longer seen as relevant in the new digital age. This is exactly the right time for them to revitalize their brand, but why throw the baby out with the bath water?

I think they are trying to position themselves as leaders of the future and therefore thought they needed to standardize their logo to look like so many other "modern" logos that we have now. A wordmark that is overly stylized letterforms with curved stems meeting sharp san-serif endpoints. This is combined with a highly rendered icon complete with highlights and defined planes. As mentioned before, this is reminiscent of many other logos out there. They saw the look as innovative, instead of seeing an opportunity to create an innovative design. Why do they need an icon at all when just their name is iconic? If Xerox wants to show us that they are connected, and on the leading edge, then do something that no one has ever seen before.

They have just lost brand equity with this new logo because they were trying to compete with the Jones's. It will take awhile for us to believe what they are trying to show us with this new logo and get their full brand message across.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment above it is an attempt at a renewed xerox-consciousness I think that this has been the biggest change for xerox in its history. Its a big change for a company to change its log. I believe it was done to shed some light and reflect on today's xerox. because xerox really has changed as a company. Their new brand now reflects who they really are now representing Xerox's connections to its customers, partners and more.

"the new identity, designed by Interbrand, for Xerox may signal a new era for the company but, as far as we designers are concerned, it merely signals the full embrace of the senseless threedimensionalization of the corporate world."

I think this is incredibly true on their part xerox has definitely become a better company nowadays and therefore they felt a need for this change and i think its a really big deal for the company's identity. Seeing as they have transformed completely then this was a necessary change.