BLACK + DECKER becomes…Blah + Dull

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Black & Decker is one of the world leaders in manufacturing power tools, capsule with a history going back over 100 years. Established in 1910 by S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, Black & Decker has become one of the most well-known power tool manufacturers in the U.S. and possibly around the world offering “power tools, accessories, outdoor yard care equipment, home cleaning products, automotive and lighting products, hardware and other home improvement products”. This is their existing logo:

old-logo

Lippincott recently was hired to redesign their logo (below). Of the new design, they say: “The rounded holding shape evokes the brand’s once iconic product plaques. The minimalist design speaks to their intuitive products and experience while appealing universally across geographic borders.”

new-logo

They dropped the hexagonal orange-and-black nut-like symbol that has been its hallmark for over 90 years. To reflect the company’s new positioning (less industrial, more emotional), Lippincott designed the logo to be more user-friendly and to make customers think not only of Black & Decker’s tools, but also their other products used around the home, coffee makers and toaster ovens. They want to create a “strong home-living experience, showing why the brand is welcome into homes around the world and the difference it can make every day.”

While I like much of Lippincott’s past works, in trying to “appeal universally across geographic borders” and look “minimalistic”, their new logo now seems so generic that it doesn’t stand apart from so many other brands I see out there. I understand the risk involved in repositioning a company to regain relevance in the marketplace and attract new customers. But I think it’s a shame that Black & Decker chose to entirely abandon the nearly 100-year-old brand equity of their hexagonal logo shape in favor of something so plain and uninspired.

The typeface is nothing special, a sans serif that you see here, there, everywhere; the rounded holding shape is about as universal as they come; and replacing the ampersand with a plus sign also seems a bit trite. Below is their previous design (left), the new one by Lippincott (middle), and an example of an alternate direction I wish they would have explored.

balack-and-decker-logos-compared

Nothing about this rebrand signifies  “power” or “tool” to me, but that is precisely what B&D had in mind — they don’t want to be too masculine or too feminine; modern but not too inaccessible; gentler and less heavy-duty. And they forego their bold black and orange brand colors for…black and gray? This is definitely not the Black & Decker I remember using when building that deck with dear old Dad. Instead, this feels more like Crate + Barrel to me.

Though I don’t think this rebrand applies well to their power drills and sanders, it does probably work fine for their dust busters and blenders and the like. I think this new logo feels wimpy and uninspired, but time will tell if it is successful in reenergizing the brand and strengthening it’s relevance to the average consumer.

Final Grade: C

About author: Scott Schiller is a Milwaukee-based art director, graphic designer, illustrator and fine artist. He has experience in corporate branding, logo design and marketing and advertising design. He is also an accomplished wildlife and pet portrait artist.

Written by on February 6, 2014

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