Comedy Central Gets A Serious Logo Upgrade

Yesterday, Comedy Central released a brand new logo and in my opinion, have done a really great job. Rebranding has become a hot new topic for people interested in design, and for better or worse, is being scrutinized more and more. Their old logo has been in use since they want on the air in 1991 and hasn’t changed in its near 20 year history. The thing is, it’s been pretty goofy looking this whole time, definitely having a dated late 80’s/early 90’s vibe. The logo was like a word bubble with a city popping out of it, totally awkward though I’m guessing was intended to have a comedy club vibe to it. Thankfully the folks in charge have taken an entirely new direction with the brand, simplifying things immensely.

The new logo was created by thelab who created a riff on the ubiquitous copyright symbol. It’s elegant in it’s simplicity which might be an odd work to use but when you have to represent a multitude of programs having an agnostic design like this makes a lot of sense. I thought the choice of font was nice though the upside-down ‘Central’ seems a bit silly to me. Nonetheless, I have no problem reading or identifying the brand, so it doesn’t hurt.

My first impression was slightly negative, but after watching the video showing the new branding in motion it made a lot more sense. You’re probably not going to see many static images of the logo anyhow so I feel like the rebrand should be judged mainly on the video.

What are your thoughts about the rebrand?


12 Comments Comedy Central Gets A Serious Logo Upgrade

  1. faber December 10, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Bobby, I totally agree with your last main point there, and I think it’s incredibly important in branding. Look what happened to Gap – they released a logo which was a fairly radical departure to their existing brand (though, incidentally, not at all off from the kind of stuff that’s already in their store, but that’s another story), but the only place they put it was up in the top left of their website, leaving no context whatsoever for the change. A lot of people are having the same reaction to the new CC logo that you had – ambivalence and maybe a bit of negativity towards the seriousness of a comedy network’s logo, until it’s seen in the context of the programming and video. We’re talking about a tv channel here, so it’s silly to even try to evaluate the logo outside of the context of motion.

    Honestly, they accomplished a real feat here – taking something that on it’s own is a very simple and subtle mark (with all the copyright logo lookalike connotations), and made it downright hilarious in the context of the rest of the content as almost a stamp of “Authentic Comedy Central Material, Motherfucker.”

    Plus, I’m always game for dick and vomit jokes.

  2. Nathan December 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    It think it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Comedy Central. I was initially thrown by the upside-down “Central,” but after a few more glances I really like it. It shows that while the brand does at times contain serious content, it maintains its comedic core. Very simple. Nice.

  3. D'ken December 10, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    I would first like to say that I do like the logo and that it is a very brave and much needed improvement from the last logo. It reminds me a lot how Helvetica cleaned up advertising in the 1960s.

    However, I have a different opinion. Judging on just the logo alone, I think the designers went a little too far with simplifying the logo. The impressions I get are “minimalist,” “elegant,” and the play on Central is “cute.” But not funny. And as for how the logo is being used, I think that the form of the logo, and the way they “punctuate” the punchlines reminds me a little bit too much of Copyright issues. I feel like everytime they put that logo at the end of a joke, Comedy Central is saying, “Yes, this was funny and it is ours, bitches.” It just puts me off because it reminds me that Comedy Central is a big and impersonal corporation. And I like it when branding can just fantasize a whole new world for me.

    But despite all of that, I think it is a very good improvement. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, where a lot of brands are starting to clean up the frivolous and trivial aspects of what their companies are. Conan O’Brien definitely got to do it when he moved into his new show. But I don’t think simplifying is enough. I think that the designers can take it one step further and actually make the logo be about something about comedy – and not copyright – without having to rely on application.

    I know that I am being overcritical but I do believe that designers are one of the most intelligent people out there and I have no doubt that they could do better.

  4. M December 10, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    I like the logo and images, but I’m not too big on their color palette.

  5. Cal December 11, 2010 at 6:35 AM

    Bobby, the current logo was introduced in 2000. Says Wikipedia.

  6. Richard December 11, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    reminds me too much of the Criterion logo as well as the mentioned above Copyleft. womp womp FAIL

  7. Michael Bilyk December 11, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    The colors and animation remind me of nbc’s branding. The new logo seems too intelligent for the kind of material on Comedy Central, which is mostly fart jokes or their equivalents. If they had shows like 30 rock, seinfeld, curb, or arrested development then I think it would be more appropriate. Not to knock the Daily Show, Futurama or some of the stand up that they have.

  8. Bobby Solomon December 11, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    @Martin – Which is also mimics the copyright symbol… I’ve never even see that before.

    @Richard – I disagree, I don’t anyone would get the logos mixed up, especially with the content that they’re related to. Plus I feel like the Criterion logo is much more elegant.

    @Michael – So dumb content should have dumb branding? I don’t think that’s how it works.

  9. Michael Bilyk December 11, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    To me, dumb branding is having your logo and your brand not fit your content. I think that it looks great, it just doesn’t portray Comedy Central to me. For instance, check out the now defunct website I wouldn’t say their branding looks bad just because it is a bit silly and playful. And it portrays exactly what you come to the site for: comedy (sketch comedy specifically).

    Comedy Central’s new logo is dumb branding because it portrays the humor as much higher brow than it actually is, which is a mistake. Dumb content branding deserves the same level of design that intelligent content branding deserves. That is to say, the logo, animations, etc. should be well thought out and designed appropriately, not that they should look bad.

  10. Dave O. December 14, 2010 at 6:56 AM

    When is this restaurant going to open?

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