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New Xerox brand image softens the digital X, projecting dynamism and forward-moving innovation

Xerox logo 2008

Issue #0801/2 – On Monday (7th January) Xerox introduced a new brand image, replacing the basic logo design that has carried the brand for nearly half a century in five different variations and two colours.

Described as “a lowercase treatment of the Xerox name – in a vibrant red – alongside a sphere-shaped symbol sketched with lines that link to form an illustrative ‘X’”, the new image is intended to portray Xerox as “a customer-centric company built on a continuing history of innovative ideas, products and services that meet the needs of businesses small to large”.

Xerox corporate identity timeline

Certainly much more modern and contemporary than the old logo and its associated digital X (designed in 1994 and phased out in 2004 but still in widespread use), this new logo uses a lower case xerox instead of the former upper case XEROX. Dispensing with the upper case characters is certainly a good move. How often are we told that using capitals in an email is the equivalent of ‘SHOUTING’? The capitalised XEROX was rather overbearing, potentially giving the message that the company was domineering, aggressive and inflexible.

Digital X

Although the logo and digital X were instantly recognisable to all who knew the brand, it did perhaps leave something missing for those who did not and one might consider the designs to have been rather clinical. The new logo brings the Xerox name firmly into the present and projects it as a youthful and dynamic player in the market.

The new rounded font, which has been developed specially for Xerox, together with the overall roundedness of the symbology, implies a rounded and friendly organisation that provides a rounded service to its customers around the globe.

Perhaps the spherical symbol (or ‘bouncing ball’) is representative of Xerox’s ‘bounce’ back from oblivion over the course of this decade?!

What is not changing (much) is the colour. Still red (but a slightly deeper red), the research undertaken by Xerox showed that the association in the minds of staff and customers between the colour red and the name Xerox and is strong even though it has only been used for a little over a decade.

Looking at the new identity from the other side, professional designers might question the use of such a contemporary design as being too closely tied to current trends and styles. The danger is that these change over time (as we see in the design of cars, clothes, haircuts – and web sites!), not necessarily long periods of time.

Although this new logo appears more user-friendly and accessible now, is it guaranteed to have the longevity to take Xerox at least to the end of the next decade? The original Haloid (Olympic flame) logo had a 3-decade life-span, while the Haloid Xerox (beer mat) logo lasted more than two decades, through several variations, and the Xerox logo mentioned in the introduction, and that we are all so familiar with, has served Xerox well for more than 4½ decades.

For a company the size of Xerox, changing an entire corporate identity is no small venture and represents a huge commitment in terms of both finances and time. Xerox estimates that it will take at least 18 months to implement the changes across its entire line of printer and MFP products, media lines, marketing materials, transportation fleets and company offices.

Let’s hope that the new identity works – to discover that the new image isn’t working in 18 months time, just as the conversion process is being completed, would be a total and utter disaster because it would then take a further 18 months to change it again, plus development time (not to mention cost) for another new identity.