Weight Watchers recently unveiled a new identity, designed by Pentagram’s Paula Scher. There are a few things we wanted to mention about the identity, which lead on to a slightly bigger, more complex point.
Online, the general consensus we saw regarding the new logo and identity wasn’t particularly great. The angry mob weren’t baying for blood as they have a tendency to do at times, but the feeling was that a gradient applied to a chunky typeface was a missed opportunity to do something more interesting and original. We tend to agree, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the rebrand**, but there certainly isn’t anything to get too excited about either. It seems that every other identity uses a gradient these days and removing the gradient from this design leaves very little in the way of concept. In summary, we arrived at the conclusion that as a redesign it is too safe and simply a bit boring.
At this point in the studio discussion, a familiar response came up – ‘Well, it was probably a case of the client just going for the safest option’. This is a fair point and one that is hard to argue with. We’ve said before that without knowing the ins and outs of the brief and what happens during the client presentations, it’s impossible to comment the process the designer and client went through to get to the final outcome. Design by its nature is a compromise and having to adapt to the needs of both the client and the target audience it what makes it design. Not always, but often, there will be an element of meeting in the middle for both parties – it’s a collaboration and all that.
But does this defence let designers off the hook too lightly? ‘It’s not great, but the client probably chose the weakest option’. Why was there a weakest option in the first place? Should anything you put in front of the client be something you’d regret them choosing? Is blaming the client for choosing the wrong idea a decent excuse? Is sub-standard work more acceptable if the client was a nightmare at every stage of the design process? No, no and no.
If the final design you produce is poor, you’re to blame. Managing client feedback to avoid your work becoming diluted and only ever presenting work you’re proud to stand by is the only option. Which can, unfortunately, be really difficult. Which is why we expected more from Paula Scher and Pentagram – they have a proven track record of producing excellent, innovative work for huge, risk-averse clients. The projects they take on are never going to be easy, but their reputation leads one to expect an extremely high standard of work. Which makes it especially disappointing when the results are underwhelming.
Now, none of the above is intended to imply that either Paula Scher or Weight Watchers are unhappy with the identity. For all we know, it might’ve been the only option put forward and both parties may be thrilled to bits with the outcome. Neither is this post supposed to be a scathing critique of the brilliant Ms. Scher. Her work for Pentagram is (usually) brilliant and inspirational. But for us, this latest work just doesn’t cut it. And the client isn’t the one to blame.
-But what do you think?
-Do we need to give the work a chance?
-Or should this work never have been put forward in the first place?
Let’s get a debate going.
Thanks for reading,
Phil and Tom
*Scathe We Wright — Spot the anagram?
**Obviously apart from the blindingly obvious word ‘twat’ in the middle of the logo that, once noticed can’t be un-seen.