21st Century Fox's First Logo Fixes What Wasn't Broken

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

The logo is a volatile instrument. It can do more harm than good if it’s introduced the wrong way, or with too much fanfare, or with too much self-congratulation (remember the Gap debacle?). Which might explain why the unveiling of 21st Century Fox’s first identity, yesterday afternoon, could’ve easily slipped under the radar.

The name and the logomark were designed by Pentagram, the 40-year-old studio responsible for dozens of widely-known brands, like the Daily Show and the Big Ten conference. Tasked with creating an identity for the company that'll be formed when Rupert Murdoch splits up News Corp on June 30, the designers made a single very smart move: they replaced the much-hated News Corp brand with one that harkens back to its most well-liked asset, 20th Century Fox.

Pentagram’s ten-second animation flattens out the classic gold-and-Klieg-light intro, abstracting the spotlights into negative space and wrapping the whole thing in a somber navy and grey palette. It trades up in the typeface department, replacing the original gold letters with an elegantly kerned rendition. The most jarring change, though, is the audio—rather than the familiar 1934 horn fanfare, we get a cascade of funny little bleeps and bloops. "Like our name, the logo reflects the rich heritage of Twentieth Century Fox,” Murdoch wrote in an email to News Corp staffers, “and signals the promise of the 21st century and our restless drive toward the future.”

Is it successful? It could be. On one (very cynical) hand, wrapping a company people love to hate in the skin of one most of us associate with Star Wars and Avatar is a brilliant move. On the other, this thing loses almost all of the excitement and glamor of the original. What's really fantastic about the 20th Century Fox fanfare—which George Lucas is single-handedly responsible for reviving, actually—is that it serves as a visual palette cleanser. It clears away the debris of previews and real-world cares and replaces them with the hazy, glimmering twilight zone of Hollywood. This version is much less figural.

Still, 21st Century Fox is bound to benefit from the association—and I'm curious to hear what you all think.