Brands that are scalable across all types of media were a big trend in 2010, and PWC’s new logo is an excellent example. Designed by the London office of Wolf Olins, it’s got a friendly serif typeface set against a series of warm, colored panels that can grow or shrink to suit the medium, whether you’re talking about a web site, a TV animation, or a brochure. Why that matters: We live in a multimedia world, and today’s brands need to work just as well online as in print. Expect to see more along these lines in coming years.

Comedy Central’s new logo takes the same idea -- a design created to travel from TV to the iPad and back again -- and adds a dollop of humor. (We’d certainly hope!)

Comedy Central

Designed by New York-based thelab, it’s a “C” tucked inside an upside-down “C” that’s meant as an ironic take on the copyright symbol -- the ultimate symbol of capitalist America. It’s the perfect riff for Comedy Central, a station that manages both to send up the corporate world and work like a cog in its wheel.

SECCA

Pentagram’s animated logo for the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is the logical denouement of branding in the digital age. Sure, it looks good static in print, but it looks even better online, its letters drifting back and forth, as they do, competing with all the other stuff moving around the web. Scalable brands might be ubiquitous a few years hence, but animated logos are the wave of the future.

Chiquita

If we were giving out awards here, Chiquita would win for the best crowd-sourced branding campaign. The company asked folks to redesign the iconic stickers on its bananas, then actually produced the 18 designs that got the most votes in an online contest. Normally, kicking a branding scheme to the masses gets you a little buzz and a lot crappy design. But by confining the competition to miniscule stickers (and not, say, involving the company’s entire identity), Chiquita kept the stakes small -- literally. Put another way: They got a little buzz and who cares if they got crappy design? Which they didn’t. Most of the winning stickers are pretty cute.

Fred

The upstart Scandinavian furniture distributor Fred made our list, in large part, because its branding scheme by Australia’s Clinton Duncan is so fricking weird. The logo centers on the proclivities of Fred, an invented character who’s super social, loves to travel, and, most importantly, adores Scandinavian furniture. It sounds like a shtick, but it manages to work: By giving an unknown company a personality -- even a fake one -- it becomes instantly relatable.

Fred

The upstart Scandinavian furniture distributor Fred made our list, in large part, because its branding scheme by Australia’s Clinton Duncan is so fricking weird. The logo centers on the proclivities of Fred, an invented character who’s super social, loves to travel, and, most importantly, adores Scandinavian furniture. It sounds like a shtick, but it manages to work: By giving an unknown company a personality -- even a fake one -- it becomes instantly relatable.

Global Network of People Living with HIV

This nonprofit HIV organization had the best information design of any health-care organization we saw this year. Its report on HIV prevention measures, shown here, is so superbly designed, it could actually help prevent the spread of HIV.

Global Network of People Living with HIV

Abstract visualizations of various HIV-prevention technologies figure prominently throughout the report. More importantly, the layout follows some basic rules of information design: It has lots of white space, the font is big and clear, and there are obvious division between headers and the body text.

The People's Supermarket

Here, UK-based Unreal managed to make The People’s Supermarket, a crunchy food co-op, look pretty sexy, with a simple, but elegant, branding scheme that exploits bold color and typography.

The People's Supermarket

It also turns the Euroslot -- the product-display hole punch that’s synonymous with retail -- into a branding icon, which can serve as anything from a handle on The People’s Supermarket shopping bags to a decorative feature on The People’s Supermarket letterhead.

Tang

Can good design revive flagging brands? Streng Design’s revamp of Tang -- the Vitamin C-rich powdered drink that’s been all but abandoned by its parent company in the U.S. in recent years -- suggests as much. The concept uses Space-Age imagery to tap into parents’ nostalgia for the brand.

Tang

Unfortunately, it’s just a concept at this point.

United

Now for the brands we hated! Checking in at No. 2 is United, which dropped its lovely "U" (the work of design demigod Saul Bass) and adopted the icky logo of Continental, after the two carriers merged earlier this year. Is that a whiffle ball on the right? Vomit.

Gap

And our vote for the worst brand in 2010 is… drumroll, please… Gap! It wasn’t just the aesthetic horrors of the redesign, bad as they were. It was the company’s lame backtracking. (A crowd-sourced logo? Please.) And then even more lame backtracking. Note to companies in 2011: If you’re gonna roll out an atrocious rebrand, own that awfulness.

Co.Design

10 of the Best (and Worst) Rebrandings of 2010

Thanks to Gap's face-plant of a logo revamp, 2010 will go down in the historical ledger as the worst year for brand design since, well, OK, just last year. Still, it's a damn shame, because the past 12 months have witnessed a raft of branding innovations, from a classed-up packaging concept for Tang to logos that morph across the full spectrum of modern-day media. Here, we've compiled eight of the best branding schemes we saw this year. (And, in the interest of objective journalism, we've also thrown in a couple that make us want to barf.)

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10 Comments

  • Havilande

    I disagree on the United vs. Continental Logo.
    The "U" is nice, subtle, but not particularly memorable.
    The Continental sphere is MUCH more memorable and stronger as it reminds one of Aviation-  flying around the globe. 

  • Richard Koffler

    How shallow to equate logo design with branding. A brand is orders of magnitude larger than a logo.

  • Stephen Byrne

    While there's some good identity work here from some great shops, it's a lame article that identifies eight US primarily rebrands (one that's a concept, so how does that count?) & out of the two duds, Gap was a very partial rebrand that lasted five minutes. This deserved a more considered piece. Underconsideration does a far better job on this. Can we please have a dislike button on Fastcodesign?

  • Xavier Petit

    My favourite design in this review yet what a let-down, their domain name seems inactive.

  • Jesse Kline

    To Brian Rempel: I can't even understand what you are saying. Are you saying it's all subjective? What we think as consumers about a logo is unimportant? That the logo just needs to be recognizable to the corporate entity it represents, and represent that entity visually? I dunno. I'm confused. I like the Co.design logo. I guess you're saying it doesn't matter what we think, and it's kind of pompous to sit up on a panel and decide what's "the best" and what's "the worst". Correct?

  • Jerry Ketel

    A brand is a relationship between a company and its customer. So logos and brand identity are only as good as the meaning the company pours into the brand. Good design is one of the elements of a brand but not the essence of it.

  • Blain Rempel

    I'm growing weary of the "aesthetic design as the center of the universe" diatribe that is appearing way too frequently in Co.Design (which I generally find informative). And also the Logo = Branding perspective, which couldn't be more wrong.

    Individual, or even collective, opinions on which logos are "good" or "bad" are irrelevant for the most part as long as logos are recognizable and hopefully representative of what the company wants to express (not what the designer or consumer or whoever want the company to express).

    Logos are artifacts of the enterprise and not of the designer. As an example, I don't think the Co.Design logo is particularly inspirational or meaningful, but what I think about it doesn't matter. As long as the logo speaks to what Co.Design intended, or more importantly is at least recognizable and unique to Co.Design, it has achieved its purpose.

    I'm certain there are people who love the Co.Design logo, and there are people that are decidedly ambivalent about the logo. Regardless, I don't think it speaks to who / what Co.Design *is*.

  • ANDRE CHENIER

    You could not find a better example to illustrate the fact that the reliable evaluation of art, and art related things, are out of the reach of "experts".

    How many times has it happened that great works of art have been panned by contemporary art "experts". Probably more often than not.

    Some of the so-called "best" designs in this article are simply awful, while the two losers are beautiful.

    I am not an "expert" so you can trust me on this.

  • Iva Kravitz

    If you're going to talk about unfortunate branding decisions made in 2010, you might mention the nine partners of Polshek & Partners throwing one of the most valuable and prominent names in the architecture industry - Polshek - out the window to be replaced by a name that means nine things - Annead - as they re-branded. And these are smart people, right?