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Netizens roast new PS5 logo, but branding players come to its rescue

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) left many scratching their heads last week when it unveiled the new logo for PlayStation 5 (PS5) during the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES 2020). Reason being the PS5 logo is more or less similar to the ones used for PS4 and PS3.

In an interview with Business Insider Japan, SIE’s president and CEO Jim Ryan explained the similarity between the PS4 and PS5 logos, saying that it is crucial for PlayStation’s products to “have a sense of consistency”. It is also vital for consumers to immediately think of PlayStation as soon as they see the product, Ryan said.

Despite the fact that Ryan announced several key features of the PS5 hardware including 3D audio sound, ultra HD blu-ray, and haptics and adaptive triggers, netizens were still fixated on the logo and many have been mocking it. Some netizens took it upon themselves to create the PS6 logo, while one was amused that the logo was created after hours of meetings, discussions and approvals.

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and this seems like the case for PS5. While it might take awhile for netizens to cut Sony some slack and move on from the new logo, branding players said the brand has nothing to worry about. Andrew Crombie, managing director of Crombie Design, told Marketing that the PlayStation brand is strong and can now be instantly recognised by generations of gamers. As such, there was no need for a revolutionary logo update.

“The original logo, although little more than a product code, has become as identifiable as any on the planet, thanks to its particular typographic design and Sony’s huge investment over many years. So, why screw with it?” he added. According to Crombie, effective logo design is as much about how the company applies the logo and the meaning it attaches to it, as the design itself.

Great logos are typically simple, relevant and unique. They bring forward some aspects of the product or brand story and twist them to be uniquely distinctive.

In fact, Crombie thinks the brand made a smart decision in tweaking its current design, especially in the context of other recent logo update fails. This is despite the fact that pundits joke about the numerous hours wasted spent on deciding about the change from “4” to “5”. “From a pure design point of view, I feel the logo is better now with the symmetry of the ‘5’ and the ‘P’, than it was with the ‘4’,” he added.

Agreeing with him is Katie Ewer, head of strategy at Jones Knowles Ritchie, who said it would have been “lunacy” for the company to reinvent the PlayStation identity just to jazz up the launch of a new edition to an existing product. “When Sony launched the PS5 last week, they hadn’t changed the brand, they simply announced an evolution to the franchise,” she said, adding that the function of an identity is to represent the idea of the brand behind it.

When a business changes its brand’s external signifiers – such as its logo – the purpose is to announce a more fundamental change to the brand behind it.

According to Ewer, armchair critics are upset because SIE presented a trivial, incremental change as a significant event. She added that SIE’s Ryan made “the same mistake thousands of brand managers make every day”, and that is assuming that consumers cared about the logo.

“They don’t. By staging his new logo as an event, by saying the words ‘I’m pleased to share with you today our new logo”, he invited opinion and of course, criticism. People buy brands, not logos,” Ewer added.

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