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New JCPenney logo: that's not the way to do it


US department store chain JCPenney has unveiled what it considers to be a 'bold new logo'.

The problem is that the logo is not bold at all. It's put together well enough, but bold it is not. It's the old logotype written entirely in lower case with a few letters placed in a red box. This is not the designer's fault, as a comment on Brand New suggests that the company stipulated that the logo 'had to use Helvetica' and 'had shorten JCPenny to jcp, somehow.'

My issue is not so much with the logo, but the way in which it was created. Basically, as their press release explains, JCPenney launched a competition to find a new logo, the eventual winner being student Luke Langhus. I'm quite sure that Luke put a great deal of effort into the logo and feels that it reflects the brand, its heritage and its future, but how could anybody really know? This kind of competition creates barriers between the designer and the client and often the result is that neither party is entirely happy with the end product as it has been produced, one presumes, in isolation: little collaboration, little research and little communication. None of this is Luke's fault.

But is this where design is heading - competitions to see who is the 'best', where only those who get chosen get paid for their efforts? If so it is very sad, as it cheapens the design process and will result in sub-standard design.

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I agree that this is not the way to go about creating a new brand image. I hope that the designer is not adversely affected by any negative coverage because, as you rightly say, none of this is his fault.

Spec work is killing design. I admire people like you who are taking a stand against it.

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