Being arguably the most famous logo designers in the world is not an easy task. The more press one gets, the more people expect greatness. After so much greatness, even your not so great work can easily be heralded as top notch. Even the best of the best sometimes miss the mark... even if no one seems to notice. Chermayeff & Geismar are the folks behind iconic logo masterpieces such as Chase, National Geographic, Mobil, NBC, Harper Collins, Pan Am... and on and on. Even as time wears on, new talent is brought aboard to keep the company fresh. Since recent partner Sagi Haviv joined the team, we have seen beautiful work for the Library of Congress, Armani Exchange, and Conservation International. Unarguably great design work. Let's make this clear. I am not normally one to say "I could have done better myself". It is hard to say that when you are not the one that sat through the meetings, talked with the clients for endless hours, and studied all the ins and outs of the company for days on end. But I do have a hard time believing that the new identity for State Farm is the best Chermayeff & Geismar can do.
Here is what was nice about the old logo (pictured above): I have been a State Farm customer for years now, and personally had no idea the company ranked #37 on the Fortune 500. To me, a guy who usually does judge a book by its cover, the old logo comes off as a small town brand, and rightfully so. The somewhat dated feel of the icon made State Farm completely unique from the other insurance industry giants such as Nationwide and Geico, just to name a few. This logo, which hasnt changed much since my parent's parents bought their first insurance plans, always made me feel like someone out there cared about me. It takes me back to a time when values still meant something... even in the corporate world.
I can see why State Farm felt the need to freshen up. Not only do their own views toward themselves not necessarily line up with my own, but this old mark clearly reads "Auto, Life, Fire" contained within the small ovals. Understandably, in the modern world, their coverage has evolved past that simplistic 3 part model. So fast forward to 2012, and this is what we see:
To most, the change might not look like much. Simplified.. cleaned up.. largely familiar. But it is how simple it is that bothers me most. I don't like how familiar it feels compared to those other insurance companies. The new mark feels lifeless, and above all, corporate. Once past the general aesthetic, the logo doesn't fare any better in my mind. I miss how cleanly the old ovals flowed in to one another. They had a very continuous rhythm which conveyed the sense of lumping all your insurance into one provider. The new ovals are awkwardly spaced, and really, appear all too separate. Upon close examination, the stroke's edges are hardly touching... where in the past, all three ovals shared the same stroke.
Although disappointed to see my long time insurance company get this updated look, I can't say that it is all bad. If you take the time to look at the logo in use - on mobile apps, websites, etc. - it fits in well. While I may not like it, it serves it's purpose. To many, I am sure it comforts consumers to know that their company is still competitive. Outside the super-picky, I can only imagine that most see this new design as yet another home-run for Chermayeff & Geismar... or if not a home-run, at least a nice double batted into left field.