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JCPenney redesigns logo—again

What does it say about a brand if it redesigns its logo twice in a year? They’re nimble? Or they don’t know who or what they are? In the case of JCPenney, unfortunately, I think it’s the latter.

Here’s the new JCPenney logo, unveiled today as part of a rebranding:

New JCPenney Logo

As we reported last year, JCPenney underwent a rebranding in early 2011 and introduced a logo designed by graphic design student Luke Langhus. Here’s what that logo looked like:

New JCPenney Logo

And here’s the pre-2011 logo:

And just for reference, here’s the first thing I though of when I saw the new logo: The logo of Tommy Hilfiger, another retail brand that evokes the American flag. It’s similar, but not close enough to cause confusion.

Tommy Hilfiger Logo

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Now, just because JCPenney can’t stick to a decision doesn’t mean the new logo is bad. It’s modern and minimalist and distinct, and a nice nod to the brand’s American roots. It also ties into a new brand positioning. As a company press release explains:

“The new jcpenney logo, which combines the elements that have made jcpenney an enduring American brand, by evoking the nation’s flag and jcpenney’s commitment to treating customers Fair and Square. The square frame imagery will be evident throughout all of jcpenney’s marketing, to remind customers to frame the things they love.”

(And yes, they’re still going with the irritating, all-lowercase “jcpenney” insanity.)

The idea of “Fair and Square” treatment sounds like a nice, customer-friendly idea. Here’s how Penneys explain this big new idea in the press release:

“[A] new pricing strategy called Fair and Square… includes three types of prices. Everyday, regular prices, which are always great; Month-Long Values, even better prices on the things you need now; and Best Prices, jcpenney’s lowest prices, which always happen on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month as jcpenney makes room for exciting new merchandise. These prices will be coupled with a new promotional cadence that is in sync with customers’ lives. Rather than inundating the customer with a relentless series of sales, coupons, rebates and retail gimmicks, jcpenney will host 12 promotional events each year, on a monthly calendar. Each month will include even better values on the things customers are looking to buy during the month and a host of exciting products and services that are unique to the month.”

Sounds a little complicated. I’m not sure if this qualifies for a breakthrough in retail marketing, but it’s at least an idea. Will it work? By pledging to “host 12 promotional events each year,” JCP implies it plans to stick with this strategy for at least a year. That’s longer than the lifespan of their last rebranding. Let’s see if they have the attention span for it.

* * * *

There’s also a commercial promoting the new strategy, called “Enough is Enough,” showing customers recoiling in horror (“Nooooo!”) after being flummoxed by deals at other department stores. The ads are by agency Mother, with a creative team that includes Josh Engmann, Kyle Harman, Stacey Smith, Leigh Masters, Paul Malmstrom and Bobby Hershfield. (Creativity has a full list of credits.)

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Who created this logo?

Update: The logo was designed by Brand Advisors of San Francisco, under creative director Tom Suiter, the Wall Street Journal reports.

For advertising, Creativity reports JCPenney is working with ad agencies Peterson Milla Hooks (PMH) and Mother, having fired Saatchi & Saatchi in December.

Who signed off on it?

JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson and president Michael Francis.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Logos, Marketing

20 comments

  1. Gisele Turcotte says:

    The commercial with everyone screaming titled “enough is enough” is by far the absolute worst commercial on television. By continuing this atrocity I’m afraid that you will turn off many of your customers, I’m one. Please rethink this one, it is so beneath the quality of your store, Gisele

  2. Nader says:

    Hey. Nice post, Daryl. Very even-handed. I don’t hate the logo either…it puts a rather youthful, fresh spin on what many consider “your mom’s department store.”

    Ok. On to the spot. Neat idea: show everyone in the world freaking the hell out over every other department store’s sales periods. Solid strategy: de-position the competition. But major screwup: At 20 seconds in, the short shot with the dressed up mice zooms back, and reveals, gulp, a JCPenney sign…Now, in fairness, it DOES have the OLD JCP logo…so, is this to insinuate that the the “old” JCP used to participate in the coupon/sale day/you-just-missed-it madness, and now they don’t? Even if that IS the play, it’s confusing. Because it REALLY makes it look like the spot is poking fun at ALL department stores, including JCP. Considering that the vast majority of consumers don’t know that there’s a new logo, this spot is an EPIC FAIL, even though it contains the seeds of a pretty good, pretty cheeky idea.

    Ugh.

  3. Amber says:

    I actually think it’s kind of fun (the commercial, that is). Definitely an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd – one that probably passes right on by today.

    I don’t like the logo. At all. To me, the empty box looks like they forgot to put the image in…but then, I’m a copywriter, not a designer.

  4. mark says:

    Love the logo. Love the ad. I don’t shop there but now want to.

  5. Kevin says:

    The commercial HAS TO BE PULLED!
    The most irritating ad to which I’ve ever been subjected.
    That ad gives JCP a black eye!!

  6. emma says:

    the logo is ok, i prefer the one of the older logo’s. And the commercial, 2 thumbs down! they could’ve came up with something better. I still love the store but it wouldn’t hurt to try out the new “fair and square” strategy. I’m assuming the clothes will still be the same brands they have now? I hope so…..

  7. sara says:

    I love finding bargains in the clearance sections of JCPenny. Not sure how their new set-up will affect that. I REALLY hate those commercials. I was confused to as the point of them until I found this article.

  8. Marsha Frederick says:

    I ABSOLUTELY HATE jcp’s 1/2012 SCREEMING TV COMMERCIAL and ALWAYS MUTE TV. ITS SO ANNOYING I INTENTIONALLY LOOKED TO SEE WHO AD WAS FOR FIRST TIME TONITE SO I COULD WRITE YOU AND COMPLAIN.

    A FRIEND TOLD ME jcp HAS REALLY UPGRADED THEIR DEPARTMENT STORE/MERCHADISE AND PRICES ARE STILL REASONABLE. I PLANNED TO GO CHECK IT OUT BUT… THAT COMMERCIAL HAS GOT TO GO!

  9. Sboyer says:

    I really think that some CEO’s think that there consumers are really idiotic! Those commercials are the most ridiculous commercials that anyone has ever done! Isn’t it strange that they have not a single “pretty” face screaming — funny, but when they are “selling” their products — it was with the most “precise” usage of people’s who had “handsome, pretty” looks — I really hope that JCPENNEY looks at this and I am amazed that they don’t have a place on their website to say that you hate the commercial!!

  10. kriterion says:

    Horrific screaming ad, albeit I loved the towering holy muted music as the 2.1.12 came to the screen. When commercials scream at me, I always turn to another channel, mute it, or walk away. Sorry JCP, that was a stupid move. I am 61, a graphic designer and have always uplifted your company as one of those doing a great job in advertising. NOT NOW. Yes, the logo is simplistic and clean but instead of reminding me of jcpenney, it reminds me of GAP and Nationwide Insurance. I’ve spent a ton of money at your store. Don’t discount (pun intended) older folks. We were young once and why the heck do we get put in a box (pun intended) to suddenly become people without good taste (I hate flowers on clothes), money, or deserving inclusion in branding. I’m sick of being put in the demographic box of old person with no style or desire to spend money. This old lady could think about taking her not so young money to another store. How’s that for advertising.

  11. kriterion says:

    Well, I just opened their February grand opening issue, I guess they call, and I must say the overall branding brings the logo into open air, so to speak. The layout is contemporary, clean, has passion and cohesiveness. Love their use of the logo box/window for callouts over the pics, too. It all works for me thus far, but I think they can include older people with style as well. And, I hope they remodel the stores to carry the branding even further. Without cohesiveness across the board, it won’t work and they will be back to the drawing board once again. Good Luck jcpenney!

  12. Vivian says:

    I actually looked for information on this commercial because I had no idea what the point of it was or what it had to do with jcp. If the purpose of a commercial is to pique my interest, it did that, but in a negative way. More like, what the hell was that?

  13. THE JC PENNEY SCREEMING ADD IS OBNOXIOUS!!! VERY, VERY, VERY, OBNOXIOUS.
    —–> ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! <—-

  14. Jillian says:

    I agree! I was confused at this commercial. I even rewound it on my dvr to see if i missed something but nope . . .I didn’t. The commercial does not do a great job of conveying what it is jcp is trying to do. Like other mentions, I had to find this website to figure out what the heck it meant. I love jcp but not the commercial

  15. Sherry says:

    Just tore up my JCP credit card. Won’t shop there again… so much hype about something non-consequential.

  16. Jack says:

    NEXT STOP: BANKRUPTCY
    What were these idiots (Michael Francis, Pres. & Ron Johnson, CEO) thinking? Maybe that their customers are the idiots and wouldn’t see past the smoke and mirrors? Prices are higher across the board, clearance sales are over and no more coupons. “Fair and Square”? You guys cannot be serious! Time to close my account!

    • Kathie says:

      Prices are NOT higher. The new everyday prices are what the “sale prices” were. Clearance is not over, they are now called “best prices.” But you are right about the coupons, there’s no more. There’s no more 15% survey coupons.. in place of that you are entered in a drawing to win $500 JCP gift card when you fill out the survey.

      Everything changes people. You can’t expect everything to stay the same. Get over it.

  17. Geezee says:

    Love the new logo. Its more hip and modern. The conmercial is hilarious.

  18. Robin says:

    The screaming ad was terrible! I was glad it only lasted a coupl of weeks. HOWEVER… the replacement ads with the attempt at retro? So sad! If JCP were a hip company, these could be cool spots. Sadly, it just reminds us how behind-the-times the company is. Likely meant to be tongue-in-cheek, just reminds us why they need to keep changing their logo (they’re trying to make us think they’re someone else). Too bad…

  19. Hanson dalyn says:

    the logo was not created in San Francisco it was created through a university contest, which one of our friends won the title and created the logo.

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