Publish365 019: GM's New Logo Is Sad

It's a cliche, to be sure. When you start talking about logos being horrific, someone will invariably mock you for just wanting the "same old" and "not liking something new" but honestly, that's not me. I enjoy changes, updates, and brand image refreshes, and I can't help but notice how pathetic GM's new logo is on many many levels.


First let's look at the abomination itself next to the logo it replaced.


Old logo on the left, new on the right.

The old logo had a few characteristics that made it good (and, really, some that made it bad), but it was one thing: bold. The strong colors and strong contrast look really good, and the logo was angular and definitive. We'll get to that, but there are so many things about the new one that are just outright bad that it's hard to look at the overall logo as anything but a downgrade.


The new font is awful.

The curve one the top of the G and the M matching the interior curve on the bounding square look dumb and inconsistent when matched with the angular nature of the descender on the G and the bottom of the M. It's a weird font that tries to straddle between angular and rounded and fails at both. The shape is inconsistent overall and weird. I'm assuming the logo was a custom in-house font and the principle could have worked if the design elements were consistent. They are not. This is a fail.


Gradients? Like in 1990?

In 2020 logo designs are flat. That's how modern logos are designed: flat colors on flat surfaces. No weird bevels and drop shadows and definitely no gradients. The drop shadows make appearances from time to time, but the idea of logo looking like it's 3D isn't done any more and when it is it's truly and roundly mocked as it should be. This gradient is heinous, as well, and it's so cliche. The company is trying to present the image of an environmentally conscious company by showing you blue skies and water. No thank you. This just says "I figured out the gradient tool and wanted to apply it." This feels like the kind of logo that gets re-done, not the kind that's a product of the re-do.


The overall design is weak.

The lowercase letters are weak (in this case). GM is a bold brave company conquering new frontiers in electric and zero-emission vehicles. This is supposed to be a rebirth of their company, so what does their logo say? Small, boring, and uninteresting. In an interview about the logo, a company representative said that the M is supposed to evoke thoughts of a plug for their new focus on electric vehicles. Do you see a plug there? Aside from the M having three vertical lines, I don't see a plug. I see an M that, for some odd reason, is underlined, which, also makes my eyes want a cigarette. Why is the M underlined but not the G? It's unbalanced in a weird way and it's off-putting.


Coca Cola has tried many times to re-do their logo, but their general logo has been the same since their inception. People appreciate that level of consistency. They don't change their logo with the wind of trends, and that stability says they're a company who isn't trying to catch whatever wave is rolling by at the moment. Pepsi, a perennial second-class citizen in the cola wars, has had TONS of different logos over the years, almost as if they feel like they can just grab attention with a rebrand over and over again and hopefully one sticks. What you see, though, is that they're still number two and Coke is still number one.


Whenever a company as old as GM redoes their logo, I cringe. Not because there's never room for improvement, but because the logo often is changed to represent some trend they want to latch on and abandon who they are and shed their image. If GM had modernized their logo in a way consistent with modern design principles but at least reminiscent of their old logo, it would be an easier pill to swallow. In many ways, the old logo is actually more modern than the new one. This new softer hodge podge of design elements is not going to represent the company well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pulled back in a few years in favor of the "classic" one we've all come to know and love.

It wouldn't be the first time a company mishandled a logo.

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