The Girl Scouts New Look

The Girl Scouts New Look

Girl Scouts Logo Design

This is a guest article by Ana Paula Rodrigues analysing the recent update of the Girl Scouts logo.

What do you do when an iconic brand-identity needs updating? You start by giving it a haircut and then follow it up with a little nip and tuck. The Girl Scouts of America (GSA) did just that as part of their brand restructuring and logo redesign. The celebrated trefoil logo hand-drawn by acclaimed graphic designer Saul Bass in 1978 was revamped by illustrators Joe Finocchiaro and Jasper Goodall under the direction of Jennifer Kinon and Bobby C. Martin Jr. from the New York – based design agency, The Original Champions of Design (OCD).

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The redesign of the logo is hardly noticeable at first, but upon further investigation the slight variance in the facial characteristics come into focus. The addition of bangs to the hairline is the most apparent, but one can easily overlook the subtlety and refinement of the nose and lips that is marginally slanted upward. The distinct trefoil shape is also more symmetrical, but the necks on the women appear extremely elongated in comparison to the original logo.

OCD explained on their website that the bangs on the logo helped to “differentiate and age down the three girls” while the “perky nose” reverberated youthfulness and the lips brought the “girls alive.” Additionally, the “neck makes the mark stronger” and the trefoil set’s up “a unified system.” OCD described the challenge of the redesign as one that “had to be sensitive to its [GSA] rich history. Our challenge was to capitalize on the existing brand equity but make it even more relevant to girls today.”

Armin from the website Brand New (Underconsideration) believed that OCD handled the redesign strategy for the logo accordingly. He wrote, “The first smart move by OCD was to not mess with a Saul Bass logo, the second was to try to technically improve it.” One of his readers, Aspect disagreed. “The nerve to think you can improve on a logo by Saul Bass. I would’ve rather seen this be completely replaced with something else than see a master’s work disrespected.” Girl Scouts past and present also weighed in on this discussion. Girl Scout co-leader Rosa Pires-Scali wrote on Facebook , “I don’t think there was a need for an update,” while former Girl Scout Michelle Araujo expressed, “There is no good reason for making the change in my opinion, especially with those minimal differences. It’s a historic symbol!”

Whether the redesign of the logo is relevant to girls today remains unclear, perhaps the redesign isn’t distinctive enough to remove itself from the shadow of Saul Bass.


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What do you think? Did the Girl Scouts make the right move in redesigning their classic logo?

Previous articles by Ana Paula Rodrigues:

14 thoughts on “The Girl Scouts New Look”

  1. Due to a crash in my WordPress Comments file, I lost a week’s worth of comments, so I salvaged what I could from Google’s cache:

    1. snipe on Sep 29, 2010 said:
    Disappointing change. It’s less aesthetically pleasing, and the new “bangs” make her head look deformed. I think the slight curve to the neck in the original looked more natural and had a nice flow.

    2. Kel on Sep 29, 2010 said:
    Agree with snipe here. Disappointing. The original shapes kept an overall softness, whereas the new version adds corner joins that feel too sharp somehow. The bottom tip doesn’t resolve as nicely as the original. Too bad. I’d rather have replaced it completely or better still – just left it alone.

    3. Ian Cylkowski on Sep 29, 2010 said:
    Those necks are scaring me.

    4. Harley B. on Sep 29, 2010 said:
    While the small changes seem completely unnecisary, the completed shape of the logo is well-done.. Look past the girls and at the clover-like shape.

    5. alm on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    I just can’t understan the need of the bang. It looks as part of the second girl’s face, and breaks the regular pattern. It’s less aesthetically pleasing, as snipe says.

    6. Kiren on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    If they would have left out the bangs it would have been better, that’s the first thing you notice when you look at it. It’s very distracting.

    7. Andrew on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    “I just can’t understand the need of the bang.”
    As it says, it’s meant to convey a difference in age groups.

    8. Nathan on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    I’d say its a toss-up between good and bad.
    Not everyone can be happy with a logo. It’s quite objective. However, here are my views on what’s working and what’s not:
    The things I don’t like are:
    A: the new logo is heavy on the top. The original logo is more balanced and horizontally broad which makes the overall shape a bit more appealing.
    B: with the point at the bottom of the new one, it begins to look like a medieval crest. Not quite the right image I feel for the Girl Scouts.
    C: The shape of the left and right side bulbs seem off. Now, I opened this image in photoshop and checked their symmetry. They ARE in fact symmetrical, but the right-most bulb, because of the curve, doesn’t feel the same as the left one, which is cut off before its curve inward, thus making the shape feel flat on that left side.
    The things I do like about it are:
    A: the expression on the faces feels more natural and soft
    B: the center face: the green represents a more natural profile as it flows into what would be the silhouette of her hair-very nice
    C: the use of the bangs, while a bit too dramatic possibly, does a good job of separating the perceived ages of the girls (in my opinion)
    Agree? Disagree?

    9. Andrew on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    “C: the use of the bangs, while a bit too dramatic possibly, does a good job of separating the perceived ages of the girls (in my opinion)
    Agree? Disagree?”
    I think it works better. The previous logo looks more like 3 mannequins that a group of women. IMO anyway.

    10. toni handoko on Sep 30, 2010 said:
    it’s a brilliant make over logo!
    11. New Jersey Troop Leader on Oct 1, 2010 said:
    A good logo that is timeless such as the GS logo designed by Saul Bass,NEVER needs to be updated!
    This is the second time a company took it upon themselves to butcher a perfectly good brand (Saul Bass also designed the AT&T logo that was recently “updated”).

    12. Mac J on Oct 1, 2010 said:
    Barely noticeable change (aside from the bangs). A waste.

    13. Victree on Oct 1, 2010 said:
    Nope! Due to the hard, straight lines, there’s a lack of personality which was present in the old one. Appreciate the effort though!!

    14. kittastickat on Oct 2, 2010 said:
    The reason they added the bang was apparently research showed that girls thought that because all the women on the trefoil were the same, they had to conform or something. So adding the bang symbolizes individuality.
    Market research bullshit if you ask me.

    15. Stacey on Oct 2, 2010 said:
    I like it. Aside from the necks, which creep me out because they do look completely unnatural. I agree that the girls appear more youthful and I think that the bangs were a nice touch. Both logos are great but the new one will definitely appeal to today’s generation more than the older one.
    Remember everyone, the logo is designed to appeal to the target audience. In this case, little girls.

  2. I think the new one has distracting line of the fringe and the straight lines are too hard losing the feminine feel, but the light green is a better suit for youth, and the spaces between the chins silhouettes have more balance, and the line on the top looks smoother. So if the better sides of two logos can be combined into a new one, it would be perfect!

  3. Um, why? The change is so trivial.(Remember those puzzles where you compare two pictures?) Only attentive eyes will spot the difference.

    The new design does make the heads appear malformed, and I doubt the facial detail improves printing/embroidery/other reproduction.

    If the organisation funded a change asking for a “new look”, then this rebrand failed miserably.

  4. As always good points on both sides. It’s true it’s a shame to see the Bass legacy logos updated… but then again, a brand does need to evolve as it’s market changes. If one really hated it I guess they could start a Gap style smack down… orgainze a group of angry blogging designers and it’s amazing what you can change. (and to think we had all given up on the idea of graphic design changing the world…)

    Now, I do like the fact that the overall shape of it is stronger and easier to discern and the green is much fresher, though I do like the original “woodsy” green as well.

    I’m also not such a big fan of the bangs since it is a little confusing/distracting in regard to the overall shape and I kind of like the longer forehead on the left most girl/woman, although it does look a little ’70s center parted hair… the larger forehead has always been considered a sign of intelligence, so I think that one is a wash.

    I think the elongated straight necks give a little of an “up up and away” vibe which I think is perfect considering who it’s for.

    The nip and tuck, is a little too much nip on the nose, but do think the overall is more human less mannequin.

    The only thing I feel is missing in the execution of the idea is that they seemed to have failed to adjust the positive and negative spaces appropriately to adjust for optical distortion. If you look at the chin/neck relationships they seem inconsistent. Also the right most leaf of the clover appears smaller. If the logo is in fact symmetrical (as one poster claims) that would explain why. To give a shape -with that much negative space carved out of it -the same heft or weight as it’s “positive” opposite it would need to be cheated somewhat larger to make it appear to the eye as symmetrical. That said, though Saul’s neck/chin relationship could use a little tweaking too…

    Overall, I guess if you do need an update of a classic, this is as respectful and thoughtful as I’ve seen in a while…

    Nice work!

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  7. The Saul Bass design was carefully considered relative to the design objectives agreed to which produced the great origninal logo. l know. I was Saul’s logo planning and account manager for many of his famous logos including AT&T. I am semi-retired now and welcome phone chats or email dialogs with anyone interested in Saul’s successful design strategy which I termed “credibility based logo design”. Please email [email protected] or phone 808 922 4042 Hawaii Time after 9am daily.

  8. At first glance from a distance it looks too similar to the original aside from color tone. Closer up the “haircut” looks just the opposite of a haircut. really long bangs? not a fan. The straight necks are un appealing as well to me. The “facelift is good though.
    overall I am a bit underwhelmed.Like the new YMCA Symbol this is weak in overall presence in my opinion.

  9. Its not Girl Scout of America or G.S.A. as you wrote in the article. It is actually Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. or G.S.U.S.A.

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