GM Dropped Its 57-Year-Old Logo for an App Icon
The new look has already been compared to Goodwill, Photoshop and an elephant
Normally, when a blue-blooded titan of American industry overhauls its iconic logo for the first time in 57 years, as General Motors did on Friday as it announced its new focus on electric vehicles, it creates quite a stir. But it seemed by the end of last week that Americans had little outrage left to expend on matters of graphic design and branding. Sure, there was the usual Twitter snark, but in the unsettling twilight of the current presidency, jokes equating logo redesigns with war crimes just hit differently.
Nevertheless, there were the typical rote reactions to any new logo: The initial stages identified by designer Michael Bierut of “How much did they pay for this?” followed by “My four year old could do this.” Next came the Rorschach test, of particular importance for reckoning with new logos that are more simple or abstract in their design: The new GM mark was said to look like the old 3M logo, Goodwill’s “g”, Photoshop’s icon, an elephant, or a gas pump nozzle.
But what was missing were the paeans to the old symbol. The last blue square logo to be unceremoniously dumped, that of Gap in 2010, inspired indignant online eulogies that outpaced the mark’s actual belovedness so much so that the company was spooked into reinstating it. The old GM logo, though, was one that many knew, but few seemed sorry to see go.
The new logo’s rounded corners and dual-blue color scheme expressed in a gradient make it look like a smartphone app icon, which is undoubtedly no accident.
Known charmingly as the “Mark of Excellence,” the logo was designed in-house by the General Motors Styling Staff in 1964, and, aside from a few touch-ups, had remained unchanged ever since. “In contrast to the often flamboyant insignia on General Motors’ retail products,” wrote Giles Chapman in his 2005 book Car Emblems, “the GM logo is sober and blunt, likely to strike the requisite chord with financial institutions by symbolizing mighty power in business-to-business communiques.” The might of the Mark…