The new logo is meant to be a riff on the copyright logo.

The new logo is meant to be a riff on the copyright logo.

The new logo is meant to be a riff on the copyright logo.

An outdoor banner.

An outdoor banner.

The iPad app.

The iPad app.

A preview of the new website.

A preview of the new website.

A preview of the new website.

Co.Design

Comedy Central Unveils Ironic New Logo, and Nobody Gets the Joke

The kibitzers have spoken: Comedy Central's new logo?: Not funny. Or maybe they just don't get the joke.

The network unveiled a dramatic new look yesterday set to launch officially in January -- a "C" tucked inside an upside-down 'C' that bears a striking resemblance to the copyright symbol, and seems simple, straight-laced, and otherwise everything that Comedy Central's old logo was not. Faster than Colbert can raise a thumb, commenters on sites including the HuffPo, New York, and the brand-design blog UnderConsideration, started wailing: "Borrrring!"

Other reactions: "serious and boring?; ?simple AND boring?; ?BORING, LAME, UNINTEREST­ING?; ?It's worse than awful: it's boring?; ?Boring!?; ?boringly corporate?; and ?that is... one boring ass logo."

Oh, my. Is it Gap all over again? Let's hope not. The logo might be simple, but boring, it ain't. If anything, it's an ambitious example of branding in the age of tablet computing and, we reckon, a harbinger of things to come.

"The thing the old logo did brilliantly was to be a television logo, but it was difficult to use in a scalable way," says Alicia Johnson, co-creative director of thelab, the New York firm behind Comedy Central's rebrand. There's also a sense that its cartoonish looks no longer fit the identity of the channel, which has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the schlubby early days with shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. 'Although Comedy Central is funny it also plays a larger role in culture,' Johnson says. "In a lot of ways, it's like a major news network. So, and I?m quoting a blogger here, the old logo was like showing up in a Hawaiian shirt at a Fortune 500 company."

The new logo is simple because it needs to be able to travel across the vast spectrum of new media, from iPads to TVs. You can shrink it down, blow it up, make it dance -- whatever. "One of the things we looked at constantly as we were developing the brand redesign is that it needed to become a next-generation brand package," Johnson says. "In the old world you could do a logo mark that was dominant for print. You don't want that anymore. The way a brand moves in a digital space -- where everything moves -- is as relevant to your experience as a static logo." [Make sure to watch the video above!]

One of the chief complaints about the new logo is that it's too corporate and looks exactly like the copyright symbol. (It also looks a lot like the Copyleft logo.) Duh, that's the point! The copyright is the ultimate emblem of the corporate world. Here, Comedy Central is literally turning it on its head. The joke is subtle but clever. You don't need comic sans and a brick backdrop at the Ha Ha Club to say "funny." The new logo brands Comedy Central as funny -- and subtly suggests that they've got a lock on laughs.

Some might argue that Comedy Central should've adopted a more middle-of-the-road logo -- one that's round and friendly, but not as cartoonish as the old one. It stands to reason that a bubblier logo would be just as legible on an iPhone (or any media surface) as a hard-edged "CC" (which thelab designers hand-drew). Then again, you'd lose the power of the copyright reference. It's a toss up.

Thelab stands by its design, so don't expect any sheepish surrenders. "It's really more about making the content king than trying to be the content," Johnson says. 'The network has genius programming. The mark's job is not to be the loudest, the wackiest.' Hal Wolverton, co-creative director at thelab, elaborates: "It's an empty container that can take any form the comedy requires. ...Brands are becoming more about how they behave than how they look static." Because static, well, that's just boring.

[Images courtesy of thelab]

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14 Comments

  • Sean B

    Can't believe the point of the logo is to poke fun at corporations or to be anti-corporate - Comedy Central is a global entity owned by Viacom, which is about as corporate as you get. Nothing 'subtle or clever' here - just back-rationalised, average design work.

  • Roberto Martinez

    Great logo! Simple, straight, strong, recognizable. Great logo. (and doesn't have 39,999 versions...)

  • Toby Cummings

    I love the new logo. People always hate on a simplified logo, but in this case they've more clearly emphasized the logo mark. It will be more versatile at small sizes, and really, I think every business wants that.

  • Thomas

    If I was comcast I'd be upset. It looks exactly like the comcast logo with the red crescent flipped and blunted instead of tapered.
    I like the "implied" pyramid created by the ends of the "C" that probably (I haven't tried it) fits nicely inside the "C". As noted by the designer, it's flexible but in my humble opinion not very creative and too similar to comcast and copyright. Add another larger "C" or two and add a solid red dot in the middle of the little "C". Make it a bulls eye. It is Comedy "Central". And it wouldn't look like "target" either.

  • Steven Parker

    My company has had the copyright symbol as part of our logo for almost 10 years. Frankly, I feel vindicated! Maybe we were boring chic before our time.

    Can we at least admit that ALL logos are boring by today's ridiculous standards? A logo has a job to do--communicate something. But the something is usually small and focused. It's a visual REMINDER for heaven's sake. It is not intended to deliver 90 minutes of blockbuster entertainment!

    The only thing more boring than seeing everything in the world as "boring" is having to read about it.

  • Jym Allyn

    I strongly suspect that it will "grow" on you as a brand as we get used to the backwards outer "C."
    It is significantly better than "SciFi."

  • Jeffrey Jones

    This is a stylin' logo for a cutting[edge] network.
    People with little or no design cred should keep their "opinions" to themselves.
    Overthinking, mebbe,. Over-speaking, definitely!
    Just because you CAN comment, doesn't mean you should.
    If we were on a playground, I'd rub these folks' noses on the asphalt.
    Great job by thelab, and the CC folks who approved it.
    Now, anyone want to talk about Syfy?

  • James

    This is pretty great, I think. Curious though, when was this article posted? I don't see a date anywhere, unless I'm completely missing it?

  • Tracey O'Driscoll-Packer

    I think it's just right and the video uses it perfectly. Comedy Central has evolved without leaving anyone behind. The channels' content proves it reserves the right to skip up and down the scale from juvenile to profound and a bit of subtlety in the logo isn't going to hide that. Sleek and simple might seem incongruent at first but I don't think it is. For me at least, the message is clear enough to work. I'm sold.

  • Omar Yacoubi

    It could be funny, but the joke doesn't ring true. This is Viacom, the same company that sued the pants off YouTube to eliminate user-generated content and bring everything under its own ad-supported Web site, even to the exclusion of Hulu.