The Drum caught up with design industry insiders to gauge a first reaction to the new look and what it means for the brand.
Simon Manchipp, co-founder and executive creative director, SomeOne
The $165m+ brand needs little introduction. In eight short years they have established themselves as the defacto, go-to site for all the best cat videos. With over six billion hours of video being watched every month, YouTube is in the rare-breed section of brands where the name alone is immensely valuable — people search online for names, not logos.However YouTube owners Google have recently established a very elegant and extensive design system
to enable all their brands, assets and communications to connect together visually. At SomeOne we have long been firm believers in creating flexible and adaptive visual brand identities that join the dots for brands across multi-channel applications. We call them BrandWorlds.It would appear that YouTube has finally begun to settle under this approach to create simple but not simplistic graphics. It was time to have a tidy up.I don’t think this means we are likely to see any radical new aspects to YouTube as a result of this new look. This appears to be a gentle reprofessionalisation of their visual assets. It’s unlikely to be a symbol of change, more a change of symbol.
Spencer Buck, creative director and founder, Taxi Studio
If what I'm looking at on screen is truly the new YouTube logo, it turns me off.Why follow in the same futile redesign footsteps of Microsoft, eBay, Gap and countless others.YouTube, you are pioneers, your identity should reflect that fact!
Paul Shipley, senior designer, Love
It feels like it's a step too far. Maybe YouTube feels it don't need the equity and immediacy that itbuilt up the previous logo - maybe the strength of their URL alone is what their brand identity is and where their equity lies. The fundamentals of identity design should still stand though - the type has lost its independent look, this looks like so many modern day makeovers: the lightweight sans serif font based around the neutrality of a lightweight Helvetica; stripped back aesthetics in the marque; the new focus around a symbol. How many more times are we going to see these BBC iPlayer/ITV player derivatives. If you're going to move that far away from the original to create a graphic device that can be transferred and built in to digital platforms - come up with a marque that's aesthetically more interesting, ownable, playful and excitingIt could've been so much better.
Uri Baruchin, strategy director, The Partners
In line with the recent brand guidelines and the evolution of Google's identity over the last couple of years, we can see a move towards a more simplified look for YouTube. This is a wise move for a brand that made its name by having the most minimalist approach to user experience: a single page with a search box. With their offering increasingly more diverse, this approach isn't quite possible anymore, so an economically expressed identity creates a link to that heritage. By reducing visual complexity, Google is able to better connect the essence of Google with YouTube. This change is also in line with the identity design trend towards 'debranding'. Strong, confident, brands stand out from the noise by using strong ideas expressed economically. Naturally, it's much easier to make that move when you've a high level of recognition to begin with.
Leanne Watkinson, designer, Thompson Brand Partners
It seems to be an extension of the branding rather than a new logo, and for this purpose, I think it works well. However, if it were to replace the original logo, I’m not so sure. It fits in with the latest trend for flat design, but has lost a lot of personality. The original logo is youthful and exuberant, which reflects the YouTube channel much more accurately. The new marque is a bit too grown-up and restrained – even a bit boring. Why have they not more closely reflected the logo in the new icon? If it is to replace the logo, then why not drop the type altogether? Go all the way and have the confidence to own the play button. Having said all that, doing what they have is definitely creating a buzz, which I guess is shrewd marketing at the end of the day.
Cristian Cook, partner and founder, Designwerk
With identity projects, it is often better to take the evolutionary route when undertaking a major rebrand. In the case of the new YouTube logo, the company seems to have gone down a rather off-piste and weaker route.They seem to have been naively seduced by the need to use the tired and overused Play button in the new logo at the expense of good design, and in the process have actually diluted the brand rather than visually progressed it.For a modern organisation this is surely not consistent with their contemporary brand values. Verdict: Must try harder.