The New NBCUniversal Logo – Commentary from Landor Associates

The New NBCUniversal Logo – Commentary from Landor Associates

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New NBCUniversal

NBC Old Logo

Rietje Gieskes, Associate Design Director at Landor Associates is here today to talk briefly about the new NBCUniversal rebranding. Enjoy.

Last Friday NBCUniversal debuted its new logo statement to the world. This rebrand, to those not following the story, is the direct result of a majority buyout by Comcast. Notably absent from the new logo are the familiar peacock and globe iconography. The new solution, composed solely of purple typography, is one way NBCUniversal is signaling a new chapter in their history.

When it was established in 1994, NBCUniversal was, predictably, the result of a merger between NBC and Universal. They chose to represent themselves through a conventional combination of their two respective brands. The previous NBCUniversal logo featured small caps type divided by a peacock and surrounded by a globe. The typeface, Copperplate Gothic, was lifted directly off of the spinning Universal globe. The removal of these recognizable icons from the new logo is creating quite a stir within the design community and beyond. The peacock has long been a recognizable and much loved symbol for NBC.

Today NBCUniversal acts as an umbrella brand for a large variety of entities. Presently, it owns a total of 41 companies, only 14 of which are associated with the NBC and Universal brands. Thus, it is logical for the corporate entity to be brand neutral and to not play favorites with the legacy properties.

There are additional changes to the brand, as well. The name was updated to NBCUniversal, Inc., formerly NBC [space] Universal, a change described by the new CEO Steve Burke as representing “individual businesses working together.” Less successful is the type choice. The new treatment is a miss-match of a contemporary sans serif with sharp Copperplate-like serifs glued on. It is understandable that they would want some continuity from the previous brand, but this compromise seems more awkward than it’s worth. The wording is now set in title case, a change likely made to improve legibility of the new space-less name. Still, the coupling of NBCU as a visual acronym seems destined to dilute the power that NBC once had in the mark. This might be their intention, thought it’s hard to know.

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The overall result is visually unremarkable. What remains to be seen – as is the case with all new identities when they first debut on the blogosphere – is whether this logo is a part of a more extensive brand visualization and experience. Was NBCUniversal right to distance itself from its entities by removing the peacock? Will this make it easier for them to acquire new media properties? Has NBCUniversal lost some of its cachet?

What are your thoughts?

70 thoughts on “The New NBCUniversal Logo – Commentary from Landor Associates”

  1. I understand the need for an unbiased mark, but they’ve missed it here. Character is lost to complete anonymity.

  2. Does it actually matter what the mark is ?? This company is big enough where they can afford to cast aside all of the branding bits that most marketers would rave on about how important they are. I don’t think massive companies like PnG or NBC universal in this case get hurt to much from a weak logo. Good design is good business, but good business isn’t always good design.

  3. @shell – we’re not talking about the size of the business we’re talking about the quality of the logo. Just because a company is large enough to exist without iconography doesn’t give it free reign to have a shite brand.

    the new logo doesn’t convey a single idea or inspire thought what-so-ever. it’s hardly legible and the only thing i get from it is “we’re in the business of being bland”.

  4. While I’m losing any sleep over this new logo, I’m not a fan. The chief reason is because adjoining NBC to Universal assumes that we are somehow able to pronounce the entire thing. NBCU is not a word, and I believe that the slightest bit of punctuation — perhaps a hyphen or slash — would go a long way.

    While I understand the rationale for removing the Peacock from the previous logo, I very much enjoyed the circle shape and all uppercase typography. I don’t understand why they departed so far so fast.

    Like I said, not losing any sleep.

  5. I feel this is major step backwards for the NBC brand. Regardless of who bought the company, you don’t cast aside decades of effective branding and icon recognition on what, from the outside, appears to be on a whim. Not only is this a poor creative idea, this will cost them thousands of dollars replacing the logo on signage and the like. But, hey, to each their own.

  6. Jacob, thank you for this useful info.
    I think that, as most of useless redesigns, this one doesn’t have any similarity to the old logo. Though it’s not critical, it’s always uncomfortable for me (when one of my favorite brands make a redesign).
    I like when the brand’s redesign is not a totally new work, but an improvement of the well known old image. Like it was with Starbucks 🙂

  7. I think what is causing the uproar is the loss of the peacock.

    I like the Font and removal of the space, but I certainly think they should have kept the peacock. When you think NBC, you automatically see a peacock in your mind. So, keeping it and maybe updating it would have been best (IMO), the logo just looks incomplete to me.

    Like.. “It’s a good start, how long until you are finished?”

  8. Not liking the new logo.
    I agree with KOON, for me it’s NBCU niversal also.

    To bad such a recognizable logo is now lost…

  9. I think this logo has a very clean and corporate vibe but overall it’s unoriginal. It does not reflect the enormous creative legacy both giants bring to the table. I can understand not wanting the peacock to be a dominating focal feature, but I agree with Johnathan that this logo looks incomplete.

  10. My god, that is awful. The font they went with is just atrocious – what are those random serifs and extreme points at the end of the letters? Also, looks vaguely like “cunt” in the middle of the logo.

    Just terrible. Wish I got paid for this shit.

  11. Agree with koon and others, as soon as I saw it I thought it was a branding for a university. NBCU. I know some comments and the article itself point to the loss of the peacock, its not that for me, it just looks so amateur.

  12. In my opinion they should have abstracted the peacock concept even more than in the old logo. The lack of the colors of the peacock is what bothers me more so than the lack of the peacock itself.

  13. The new logo is devoid of any personality. There is nothing memorable about it. I remember when NBC dropped the peacock and replaced it with the “N”. Only after NBC was tanking in the ratings did they realize their mistake and return to the peacock. Something tells me history is about to repeat itself.

  14. I was shocked when I saw this and I think it is the worst logo (if you can even call it that) I have ever seen. Wolff Olins should be ashamed. I assumed that Burke’s kid did it in Word that morning. Now to find out the story behind it makes me hate it even more.

  15. Some one I was just talking to about this made a perfect analogy..

    “What if McDonald’s got rid of the ARCH?”

  16. Initially it just comes off as unremarkable. The flared serifs look almost antique like and forced, the periwinkle color is rather gaudy and without some sort of visual barrier, the mark reads like ‘NBCU niversal.’ I think the biggest gripe I have is their removal of that iconic peacock mark. If it’s not broken then don’t break it. New Coke anyone, I can grab a case on my way to the Gap…

  17. As I understand it, this logo was developed for internal use only. I don’t know why it was unveiled, but it has certainly caused a stir. This simple style would be easier to use in instances where branding is not important, yet still reflect the authority of the company.

  18. terrible !!!
    background color
    font selection, it looks like handmade serif style.
    the way they use the capitals and lowercase is just nasty.

  19. Yet another example of a company trying to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken.

    The new logo doesn’t read as NBC Universal it reads as NBCU niversal which makes me think of a university.

    The loss of the peacock is awful in my opinion, the logo loses all forms of recognition. It’s just a boring logotype now.

  20. A logo designed by a corporate committee. Oh, sure, designers were involved to make sure there was a vector version, and pantone colors and cymk. But it looks like a result of t0o many executives forcing their own opinions and not much here in terms of design, a memorable mark, or meaning.

    By the way, does anyone remember the NBC logo redesign fiasco of the late ’70s?

  21. If a first year art student submitted that logo, their professor would fail them.

    The “old” logo is elegant, colorful and expressive.

    The “new” logo is a bunch of letters typed in a bland font.

    Hopefully this is just another Gap-esque publicity stunt.

  22. REALLY? This must be the Emperor’s New Logo. Apparently clients are ready to pay large for poor solutions.

  23. Hmm…NBCU… really? THIS is the best they could do?

    A little research would have saved them tons of money I’m sure… COKE….GAP…..

    If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The old logo was perfectly lovely as it was.

  24. Yikes. A serif font with inconsistent missing ligatures.

    I can’t look at this at a glance and understand who this is. It needs a separation of some sort between NBC and Universal.

    Even a · would make it better:

    I understand the desire to remove the iconic symbols, but have mixed feelings. Even an outline of the top edges above the text would make the tie to the company strong, without requiring icons/logos.

    That’s my $0.02. I do enjoy reading these other opinions here, keep them coming.

  25. Dropping the peacock is a mistake. Plain and simple.

    Working for so many years to establish a brand only to discard it because its too big now. silly.

    Being associated with NBC has some cache right? why wouldn’t sub companies want to be associated with that? I’m not a business man so i really can’t make comments on that side but as an artist i think this design is just weak.

    i wonder how long this redesign really took…

  26. Like other comments before me, I agree that dropping the peacock is a mistake. It’s one thing to create an image that’s affiliation agnostic, and other to completely drop any association with the network’s past. I could accept an updated peacock, maybe with different colors to symbolize change, or some other updated twist on the existing brand, but I believe the full text logo is a mistake.

    Like the previous comment, I also see “NBCU niversal” when I look at it. They could have done “NBC” in a bolder derivative than “Universal” to create some separation without a space. The new logo looks like something that no time or effort was put into.

  27. oh boy. They didn’t have to fix what wasn’t broken.The previous logo was great… nice & colourful & simple; everything a logo should be and a great solution to a merge. I agree with Koon… it now reads NBCU niversal.

  28. I never actually realized how bad the old one was till seeing it this big instead of in a quick flash on my tv screen. Terrible typeface choice.

    Add me to the list of peacock supporters.

  29. I couldn’t agree more with Sirolf and KOON. I too saw NBCU and am now constantly thinking of it as a university, simply because that is how I am remembering it.

    The loss of the peacock is a big fail in my mind, as that was the single most recognizable attribute of the brand. Bringing that into the new age with a freshen up would have been far more successful than this otherwise boring, bland look for what is supposed to be a brand of endless creativity.

  30. That has got to be one of the ugliest logos I have ever seen. It looks like it was created in MSWord or something horrific like that. It doesn’t take a branding genius to know that if you are going to lose something as memorable as the peacock, you better do better than this!

  31. At first I didn’t like it; but it’s graphically a better approach. The old logo wasn’t any better, way to busy. The new one, even though not my cup of tea is still graphically more versatile and in a better direction then the previous one.

  32. To read the article.

    First of all sorry for my terrible English.

    In my humble opinion:

    (a) the logo “Turkey” is almost unbeatable. It is very good. Defined with minor possible strokes.

    I’ve tried and true, I stay with the original.
    A logo should work in black and white. In case if not will be a nice symbol, illustration, painting, web 2.0, animated presentation, poster, tv, etc.

    (b) with the union of companies. If do not want to redesign based on “Turkey” and “world”
    It may be a good idea a logo only tipografico.
    But please, I think that it is a nerve to use a source standard and “flies”

    If to a logo tipografico starting from a stardar source. Better with a new source.

    Make the font to make it readable but at the same time only if it is a great time. -time and little money… does NBC little money?-


    1 Turkey + world. But worked than the old. (have stuck and wing to run)

    2 Tipografico. I think that they are based on an error. NBCUniversal. Read “NBCU niversal”
    (it is clear that NBC wants to stress?)

    3. With new symbol + drawn typography. to my right. The logo of NBC is a pity not to keep it, but do it “worse” is like putting Mozart at pace of Rock…
    It looks “good” but the original will always be better. Let us not snobs.

    The structure should be something like “nbcuniversal” or “nbcuniversal” or separated. The Universal is poorest…NBC is best. Joking aside, it is not read.

    Best regards,


  33. I believe that the peacock was the synonym of NBC. That alone was something people associates with NBC, so dropping that is a big mistake.

    Additionally they have changed the font to a very round, and to me child like looking font, which makes me think of something that belongs with Disney or Nickelodeon.

    I recommend the person(s) who did this NOT to put it on their CV!!

  34. The NBC and Universal logos are less NBC and Universal than the words NBC and Universal.

    If they really wanted it to be brand neutral they would have changed the name.

  35. To me too, it looks like ‘NBCU niversal’ as already mentioned by some above. But after half a second of looking at the logo you realize what it says.
    Think of it:
    The use of same font and no spaces between the words shows the collaboration and single-mindedness of both the companies, although you really feel the need for a better font there!
    Also, for companies of such large proportions it is very ‘gentlemanly’ to have a logo this simple. They don’t need to show that they’re real big and fancy cuz they actually are!
    Who knows, they may start using just the ‘NBCU’ part as time progresses and the name catches up..

  36. Oh, and I forgot to add – the ‘NBCU niversal’ trick also makes the cogs turn – which is good enough to make it stick around in your mind for a while..

  37. At first I thought it wasn’t going to work. The peacock! My beloved multicolored peacock was replaced by a slab of….purple.

    But the more I think about it, the more I can understand their strategy. Branding by color is a trend that isn’t new. It’s not easy to do, given there are only so many colors to choose from, but the color is unique enough (for now, anyway) and the company has the resources for such an extensive branding exercise, so they may be able to pull it off.

    As for the font, I think it works, simply because it’s not a choice commonly seen. It doesn’t set comfortably to the eyes. To designers, this makes it seem bad, but to users, it just seems slightly more noticeable. This awkward hybrid of sans and serif may find it’s strength in just that, being awkward.

  38. It does matter what the mark is, but more importantly, it matters what brand they’re portraying. In my opinion, it was a bad marketing move to change the NBC logo. It’s iconic.

  39. I would have gone with a light san serif versus a serif, kept the whole thing in caps and some how keep the circle.

  40. I hope nobody got paid for this! It looks like somebody told the office boy to pick the ugliest font he could find and just type out the words.

  41. Although I do not like, in your defense of its author I can say:

    -At least saved space to her around.
    -Imagine that the order was – not Turkey not world –
    -Typography… If the enough sefif. -S – serif
    -Implemented a significant color for the brand

    Sometimes designers, ideas we throw in the trash.

    More than 20 years designing… and almost always happens to me, my minimalist designs do not like.

    “Is too simple for my”
    These sources “them want a gradient color”
    “There are lots of free space”
    “Tell me these source using” (“Lord is not a source that is drawn..”)
    “It has been a friend and said that makes it any…”

    Solution: Try to please the customer with design less tacky.
    Make a design more complicated (bad) tighten the (bad) design give rather than suggest (bad)

    But we must remember that “who pays sends”.

    Best regards

  42. Wow! i had to check twice because i was convinced it was the other way one being old one, and old one being new one..That wouldve been a superb improvement…and yet…i cant believe my eyes..almost feel bad for them o_0

  43. Horrible… Must have been the same noob who did the Golden State Warriors new design.

    They must be recruiting MS Word specialists nowadays..

    Why is horrible design becoming popular?

  44. another great example of corporate mentality.

    obviously not designed by a creative team. looks more like the work of some in-house intern in charge of office powerpoint presentations (at best) who is there probably as a favor to some suit’s golf buddy.

    shameful and insulting.

    but what do you expect from the american corporate structure where the most unqualified people end up making all the final decisions?


  45. Well, they’ve achieved their goal: it looks corporate, classic and minimalistic. The old one felt more “personal”, but now that the NBCU is an umbrella brand, a more neutral logo makes sense.

    I just can’t help but feel they paid a few hundred thousand dollars for a logo that can be done in minutes – the pitch must’ve been pretty good if that’s the case :-)…

  46. A different take;
    Very easy for Rietje to downplay competitor (WolffOlins) work and name it ‘unremarkable’. And sentimental (but human) to relish the past.It’s pretty clear NBC & Universal are getting closer together, hence the lack of space. The new Gothic is modern, well executed and doubt any of the commenters above even know what kerning is.

  47. OK that’s pure amateur design… My 4 year old could have typed that out and said, “look dad a logo”. Oddly enough I don’t even have kids…

    Yes, that’s how bad that logo is.

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