All the hullabaloo about at&t (formerly AT&T)

Anxious designers have been hunkered down on their haunches waiting to pounce on the new reiteration of the revered, Saul Bass designed at&t logo. So far, I’ve yet to hear anything positive about it, responses have varied from “eh, whatever.” to “holy shit, this is a monstrosity, a disgrace to the graphic design industry and the person responsible should be stabbed directly in the eye.” (I may have embellished that one a bit).

There are as many diffferent opinions as there are designers. “I hate that font,” “It looks like a creme-saver,” “lower-case is stupid,” “the swirls are crooked.” Subjective judgements are fine and dandy, nobody’s wrong when you’re just throwing your personal opinion around. But by the same token, nobody’s right either.

I think there is something wrong with the new logo. But I’d like to do something a little different here, I’d like to tell you why I think something’s wrong.

To put it simply, they’ve taken an icon with meaning and strong conceptual thinking behind it, and they’ve made it into something meaningless.

Old AT&T logo

The take on this version is a world—most likely earth, which we all know is mostly blue in color—linked up, or wrapped with telecommunications, or a network. The broader whites lines being a highlight on the globe. A high tech earth, if you will. Nice and bold, simple graphic execution with good thinking behind it.

Now let’s take a look at what’s happened to our world in the name of technological advance:

The new at&t

The earth is white. The second ice-age is upon us, the nice warm spot where the sunshine was hitting the globe has melted away to reveal skeletal crevices showing through to an icy blue hollow core. Awesome. AT&T has now gone from a nice warm high-tech globe to a cold, swirling hollow earth-skeleton.

I think if they had just left the colors alone and not switched the blue and the white they would have stayed truer to the original concept, but still added the additional dimension and transparency they were looking for. I think if they did that, they’d be OK.

Who am I kidding? Designers would still hate it.


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