Simple is sexy.

Earlier this week, Santa Monica Studio launched a redesigned logo and completed arguably one of the most dauntingly under-appreciated projects a design team can tackle.

To some, a logo is just that. It doesn’t stand for or symbolize anything.

To others, particularly those designing it, a logo encapsulates a company’s very identity – everything it is and everything it offers. A logo can convey what the organization’s mission and vision – everything it is trying to accomplish. In a best case scenario, a logo will evoke a visually enticing affinity to the organization so when you see it, you feel something good. With such seemingly unattainable expectations, it is no wonder logo redesign projects are typically characterized by heavy costs and extended timelines. This isn’t something you can afford (in every sense of the word) to get wrong.

Santa Monica Logo (old)

Before…

One of the trickiest parts of designing a new logo is striking a balance between the influence of contemporary design and the tempting pull of trendy styles. In other words, your logo is (hopefully) going to be around for a while. So you want something that transcends trends.

Santa Monica Logo

…after.

When I saw Santa Monica’s new logo, I was initially reminded of some logos from the 70s when bold and repeating lines were king. In many cases, these lines were heavily influenced by the first letter of the organisation. You can see this influence in Santa Monica Studio’s revised logo – if you put the left-most shapes on top of those on the right, you get an “S”. This makes sense since we read left-to-right and the logo is horizontally dominant, so our eye naturally connects these shapes. This is a nice approach to avoid tying one’s logo to a particular time because it transcends style generations in a sort of what’s-old-is-new-again kind of way.

This design achieves a modern look-and-feel through flexibility. Santa Monica can adapt this logo to frame and highlight each of their games, associating the studio with high profile titles like God of War. This is particularly useful when the studio plays more of a “presenting” role and would like to link up with recognizable games it made possible but didn’t necessarily develop – like Journey.

Santa Monica Studio - God of War

Co-branding is the new branding.

I am typically quite critical of rebranded logos because companies often rely too heavily on a new logo to revitalize the business. Rebranding requires a significant investment in marketing and PR in order to communicate “what was”, “what is”, and most importantly “why it is”.

On its own, this wouldn’t be enough to wholly forgive the God of War team layoffs in February and terminating the four-year development of a new IP. But Santa Monica’s new logo reveal is cleverly timed with its move into a new studio home, The Reserve. Visually, it is much more simple and mature. Symbolically, it represents a new era of games from the storied Sony studio.

Now that you’re done reading, Google “logos gone wrong” to see why companies rightfully invest in proper rebranding projects.

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