Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Duke Energy’s new logo

What do sex, cars and corporate logos have in common? One thing: No one ever asks my advice on any of them. No one ever comes up and says, “Hey Brandsinger! This (woman, Ford, logo) is making me sweat, and I want you to study all ends of the situation and tell me how to handle it.” Never happens.

So you can see why I was not surprised to learn that Duke Energy created a new logo without having asked my advice. Duke, which recently merged with Progress Energy to create the nation’s largest electric utility, just unveiled this symbol.

Since no one asked me, I asked a true expert—our friend and brilliant logo designer Jerry Kuyper—who replied:
I don't see any upside over what they have been using for years: which had a strong visual link with the name and conveyed energy. Is bland the new black? Microsoft, Optimum, ebay and now Duke Energy... 
Every aspect of the previous logo implied energy. Everything in the new logo says lack of energy:—static, nondescript type—passive colors—limp, ill defined shapes (D? E? C?)
Communications aside, the most glaring shortcoming is the poor drawing—especially the drooping horizontal ellipse. 
Thanks, Jerry. According to reports, “the logo was developed internally”—in other words, not by outside strategists and artists. Creative work was done within a utility's culture among people who are trained to generate electricity. Seriously, who draws logos in an electric utility—one of the linesmen?

Whoever had the job, strategic imperatives were clearly an encumbrance. Look at what this one little picture was supposed to accomplish: 
"The logo represents a new beginning for a unified and stronger Duke Energy," said CEO Jim Rogers. "It also recognizes the rich histories of both Duke Energy and Progress Energy, reflecting the image of a world-class energy company." 
The colors reflect Duke Energy's commitment to sustainability, technology and energy efficiency. 
"The new logo depicts forward motion, representing energy for the future," said Ginny Mackin, Duke's chief communications officer. "It draws on elements from the legacy companies' logos: Progress Energy's ‘star' and the ‘swoosh' in Duke Energy's ‘D.' 
Colors chosen for “sustainability, technology and energy efficiency?” If they had asked my advice for colors that suggest all these big concepts, I would have recommended the perfect choice: plaid.



Larry Ackerman said...

Brandsinger, Jerry, you're both on the wrong track. I mean, you missed the big picture! The obvious answer as to where the logo comes from!

Here's my view: It's all about the shower door! The new logo was steam-sketched on the back of a new, contemporary, fancier shower door, which produces lovely legs and arms and circles and arrows as the water takes its natural course!

I mean really; how else would a conservative institution like a great big utility, not follow a proven path to success?

The only question that remains is: Who was in the shower?

Oh, one more thing for other execs who like the logo-by-shower-door approach: Check out Kohler. They make really cool shower doors.

brandsinger said...

Thanks, Larry.
I guess the creative process would be disruptive if designers switched to shower curtains.