New Warner Bros. logo sparks controversy

According to a survey published this week by portfolio website Visual Objects, the new Warner Bros. logo is “not a winner” with 89% of respondents saying they prefer the old to the new. The studio launched the redesigned logo in November, replacing the iconic 3D gold-and-blue shield design with a flat blue-and-white shield design, representing the company’s first major logo reworking since 1984. The shield design itself first appeared in 1920s.

“By trading the dominant gold color for just a bland blue-and-white logo, Warner Bros. forfeits its heritage and the legacy of its past,” said film historian Mitch Goldstone.

It turns out that people do feel nostalgia for the former Warner Bros. logo, even though the new look is supposedly in line with current logo design trends. It seems that one of the objections in the research reveals that the new logo is too similar to others, and even reminiscent of the Facebook brand.

Among the respondents in the survey, writer Melanie Davis said, “Flat, one-dimensional designs seem to be considered more modern than their three-dimensional counterparts. [The new Warner Bros. logo] is boring and blends in with the sea of other flat logos now. The gold-and-blue shield caught your eye.”

The iconic WB shield design is synonymous with such films as Wizard of Oz and Casablanca, as well as Looney Tunes cartoons and the Harry Potter franchise, with one respondent suggesting that he would prefer the restoration of the old logo after the fond association with “watching Warner Bros. cartoons all my childhood.”

Visual Objects surveyed 1,001 consumers across the U.S. and you can read the full report here. Let us know your thoughts below.

Published by

Martin Dew

editor

82 Comments

  1. When I first heard that Warner Bros. was changing its logo, I thought, “They’re bringing the Saul Bass logo back?” Because it seems like nearly every other important filmmaker who made a movie for the studio in the past 10 years prefer using that logo over the recent one.

  2. Robert Crawford

    I don't really care, but if I had my choice, I would not have changed the logo.

    I would not have either. The Warner logo is iconic. The one they had been using was the optimal one.

    But, as always, everyone feels the need to re-invent themselves. An important part of history often goes with that.

    Now we have to contend with evil Disney pulling the FOX name off its 20th Century and Searchlight logos. Now that's what I call a travesty!

  3. Ronald Epstein

    I would not have either. The Warner logo is iconic. The one they had been using was the optimal one.

    But, as always, everyone feels the need to re-invent themselves. An important part of history often goes with that.

    Now we have to contend with evil Disney pulling the FOX name off its 20th Century and Searchlight logos. Now that's what I call a travesty!

    It might be a travesty, but I can understand why they did it.

  4. Ronald Epstein

    But, as always, everyone feels the need to re-invent themselves. An important part of history often goes with that.

    Wasn't that true about Columbia Pictures starting around 1981, when they changed (for their film logo) from the Sunburst/Abstract Torch to the 80s Torch Lady?

  5. As terrible as it is and it is pretty terrible it’s better than the 1967 or 1972 versions. Though I must admit I have a certain amount of nostalgia for the ’72 version having seen it often in my youth.

  6. roxy1927

    Though I must admit I have a certain amount of nostalgia for the '72 version having seen it often in my youth.

    I think you have the same amount of nostalgia for that as I have for both the Sunburst/Abstract Torch and 80s Torch Lady of Columbia Pictures.

  7. Sam Favate

    Man, Warner needs some real leadership desperately. That new logo is something for an imprint, like an animated subdivision or an indie films unit, not for the whole company.

    What makes me think there was a big "logo unveiling" ceremony at the studio and everyone there nervously clapped?

  8. I like the long badge that used to be on the old b/w Warner movies. I'd agree that the best one is the yellow & blue one, I suppose you could say it looks a bit old fashioned, but so does the new blue one, as it still has the Warner badge, at least the red & black one looked modern. As long as they leave the logo alone on their catalogue releases, I'm not bothered.

  9. I was born in ’48 and prefer that logo. It’s classic, like me. The new logo seems fit for cartoons or other studio ephemera. It looks like somethhhing a student in photoshop could knock out in 15 minutes. Shameful!

  10. I’m really not a fan of the trend to make logos and icons “flat and simple” as some misguided interpretation of “modern”. I hated when Apple decided to make their iPhone icons “flat”. Just couldn’t fathom why Apple thought this looked better than the “etched/3D” look they originally had. This WB decision kind of evokes the same response from me, “bleh”.

  11. Ironically, in 1984, when WB ditched their abstract logo that looked to me like two and a half hits of cocaine on a black plate while looking down at it, other studios were using the white-and-blue motif:

    And WB's archrival in Burbank soon followed suit once they finally added a logo:

    Now one of them is no more and the others ditched the blue-and-white logos for CGI ones. When WB does it now, it really does feel like they are copying the Facebook logo. There's a fine line between minimalism and laziness, and this crosses it.

    And whoever wrote that article that called The Wizard of Oz a WB film shouldn't get a Christmas bonus this year.*

    *Even then, I don't think anyone will actually recreate the climactic kidnapping scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

  12. Sam Favate

    Man, Warner needs some real leadership desperately. That new logo is something for an imprint, like an animated subdivision or an indie films unit, not for the whole company.

    Here’s the thing; Warner is now an imprint of AT&T. They’re no longer an independent corporation solely existing to provide filmed entertainment. They actually haven’t been for decades, but the purchase by AT&T changes them from being a film company amongst a collection of media companies to something else.

    The logo is clear and flat and scales up or down. I would not be surprised to see it used in places that offer less real estate than a movie screen. I think the idea will be that you’ll recognize that logo and know it’s movies when you see it integrated into the forthcoming HBO Max app and other AT&T devices.

    And I know someone is going to say “But Josh, we’re all big movies fans, we know what Warner is.” And that’s true. But that change isn’t for us. It’s for a new generation of consumers that interacts with the media they consume very differently than we did.

  13. Wayne_j

    The 2019 version is very similar to the 1929 version. I think it does look good for animated films but not as much for live action.

    Around the time of their last logo redesign, WB's animation division was still dormant, so they had to outsource this custom logo for Follow That Bird to a Canadian company:

    Little did they know then that they would someday be on the same network as Fraggle Rock, HBO, or that that network would be under the same corporate umbrella as the studio.

    The main difference between the 2019 and 1929 ones is that the '29 one, thanks to the outlines of the shield, still has more of a sense of depth to it despite being 2D.

  14. I don’t mind it so much. I actually enjoy seeing the different variations when I watch older films, and I expect the old shield will return eventually, leaving it as another unique signifier in their history. It also reminds me of the WB Animation logo that appears on most of their DC projects these days, which I really like.

    [​IMG]

  15. Ronald Epstein

    I would not have either. The Warner logo is iconic. The one they had been using was the optimal one.

    But, as always, everyone feels the need to re-invent themselves. An important part of history often goes with that.

    Now we have to contend with evil Disney pulling the FOX name off its 20th Century and Searchlight logos. Now that's what I call a travesty!

    I agree about the "evil Disney" part but I do see why removing "Fox" from the names of the other production companies makes sense given the divisive nature of that brand, never mind the fact that Fox News and say, Fox Searchlight, have pretty much nothing to do with each other. Companies care about the bottom line and I suspect the divisive nature of "Fox" was hurting revenue, especially because I doubt there's much overlap between Fox News watchers and the primary Fox Searchlight audience.

  16. Tony:Reynolds

    I agree about the "evil Disney" part but I do see why removing "Fox" from the names of the other production companies makes sense given the divisive nature of that brand, never mind the fact that Fox News and say, Fox Searchlight, have pretty much nothing to do with each other. Companies care about the bottom line and I suspect the divisive nature of "Fox" was hurting revenue, especially because I doubt there's much overlap between Fox News watchers and the primary Fox Searchlight audience.

    Not that my opinion matters to Disney…

    The FOX in 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight have NOTHING to do with Fox News.

    We all know that. The studio was founded in 1935. There was no Fox anything at that time.

    I just look at this as a piece of film history destined to be forgotten by future generations just because of the "perceived" political/television affiliation.

  17. That’s not entirely accurate.

    In 1935, two film companies were floundering on their own, and merged to survive in a then-changing landscape: 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation became 20th Century-Fox. (William Fox had already been forced out of the company several years prior to the merger.) But everything that we associate with the Fox movie brand, from the logo to the famous fanfare music, is actually from 20th Century Pictures.

    So it’s not really that Disney has destroyed/removed/mutilated the name of one of the original studios. It’s more that Disney returned the studio to its original branding.

    By making gestures like returning the Fox logo to the beginning of the digital versions of the original six Star Wars films on Disney+, Disney has indicated that they’re not erasing the name’s legacy. They’re simply not emphasizing it going forward, which makes sense in today’s media landscape. The name “Fox” now conjures an intense political polarization in the minds of many average consumers, one that is simply not relevant to or help with for Disney’s plans. The name “Disney” or “20th Century Studios” doesn’t compel an average viewer to say, “My beliefs demand that I avoid this brand” or “My beliefs require that I patronize this brand.” The Fox label, for better or worse, does. In the past several years, prominent content creators who for years had made their home at Fox either left the studio due to the political association of the cable channel, or made very public statements that they were ashamed to be contractually obligated to work for the company. That’s simply not something that Disney needs. If the name prevents you from attracting talent and inspires what talent you do have to disparage the company publicly, that’s not useful. Change the name and those problems go away instantly.

    The average consumer doesn’t pay attention to these things they way we do. There are plenty of average consumers that now believe Disney owns Fox News. That’s exactly the kind of thing this change is meant to address.

    I do like that the first film being released with the new “20th Century Studios” branding is Call of the Wild. The 1935 version was the last movie released by “20th Century Pictures” and I like the symmetry there.

  18. Sean Bryan

    I’m really not a fan of the trend to make logos and icons “flat and simple” as some misguided interpretation of “modern”. I hated when Apple decided to make their iPhone icons “flat”. Just couldn’t fathom why Apple thought this looked better than the “etched/3D” look they originally had. This WB decision kind of evokes the same response from me, “bleh”.

  19. Warner Bros. could add to the impact of their logo by going back to the "Steiner fanfare" used from the late 1930s for many years. It identified a WB picture almost as much as the Alfred Newman fanfare did for 20th Century-Fox.

  20. Jeff Adkins

    I've always thought that silent logo was perfect at the beginning of 2001: a space odyssey.

    It worked there because having the lion roar would have dulled the impact of the opening shot.

    RPMay

    Warner Bros. could add to the impact of their logo by going back to the "Steiner fanfare" used from the late 1930s for many years. It identified a WB picture almost as much as the Alfred Newman fanfare did for 20th Century-Fox.

    They brought it back in the 1980s in their home video logo.

    Except in the actual movies that used it originally, Steiner's fanfare would usually lead into the opening theme of said movie.

  21. Every time a new executive comes in it seems they want to change the classic to prove their relevance and power. The usual corporate BS. The old logo was great the new choice sucks and looks cheap and there is nothing cheap about WB productions. I hate the corporate climate of constant BS.

  22. SFMike

    Every time a new executive comes in it seems they want to change the classic to prove their relevance and power. The usual corporate BS. The old logo was great the new choice sucks and looks cheap and there is nothing cheap about WB productions. I hate the corporate climate of constant BS.

    I hate it, too. Seeing creativity pushed aside for cheapness is never fun and always demoralizing. The only thing that shocks me is that they waited until now to do it. There was only 12 years of the Saul Bass \' before they brought back the old-school shield.

    Ronald Epstein

    Not that my opinion matters to Disney…

    The FOX in 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight have NOTHING to do with Fox News.

    We all know that. The studio was founded in 1935. There was no Fox anything at that time.

    I just look at this as a piece of film history destined to be forgotten by future generations just because of the "perceived" political/television affiliation.

    There was also a Fox Movietone News in the pre-TV era. If anything, having the movie studios control broadcast TV networks now — and with them, the news departments — is a throwback to those days. ABC News is basically Disney News, CBS News is essentially Paramount News, and NBC News (including but not limited to MSNBC) is essentially Universal News. Likewise, CNN is under the same corporate umbrella as Warner Bros. You might as well call them WB News.

  23. Josh Steinberg

    That’s not entirely accurate.

    In 1935, two film companies were floundering on their own, and merged to survive in a then-changing landscape: 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation became 20th Century-Fox. (William Fox had already been forced out of the company several years prior to the merger.) But everything that we associate with the Fox movie brand, from the logo to the famous fanfare music, is actually from 20th Century Pictures.

    So it’s not really that Disney has destroyed/removed/mutilated the name of one of the original studios. It’s more that Disney returned the studio to its original branding.

    By making gestures like returning the Fox logo to the beginning of the digital versions of the original six Star Wars films on Disney+, Disney has indicated that they’re not erasing the name’s legacy. They’re simply not emphasizing it going forward, which makes sense in today’s media landscape. The name “Fox” now conjures an intense political polarization in the minds of many average consumers, one that is simply not relevant to or help with for Disney’s plans. The name “Disney” or “20th Century Studios” doesn’t compel an average viewer to say, “My beliefs demand that I avoid this brand” or “My beliefs require that I patronize this brand.” The Fox label, for better or worse, does. In the past several years, prominent content creators who for years had made their home at Fox either left the studio due to the political association of the cable channel, or made very public statements that they were ashamed to be contractually obligated to work for the company. That’s simply not something that Disney needs. If the name prevents you from attracting talent and inspires what talent you do have to disparage the company publicly, that’s not useful. Change the name and those problems go away instantly.

    The average consumer doesn’t pay attention to these things they way we do. There are plenty of average consumers that now believe Disney owns Fox News. That’s exactly the kind of thing this change is meant to address.

    I do like that the first film being released with the new “20th Century Studios” branding is Call of the Wild. The 1935 version was the last movie released by “20th Century Pictures” and I like the symmetry there.

    Josh,

    You managed to explain that wonderfully in a manner that put things into a new perspective for me.

    First, did not know the details of how the studio was originally formed. Thanks for clarifying.

    Next, I didn't factor in the political issues and public statements that were being made because of the studio's association with the cable channel. I never realized it had grown into such a huge issue.

  24. MatthewA

    It worked there because having the lion roar would have dulled the impact of the opening shot.

    It worked just as well on that 1979 Columbia Pictures film The China Syndrome: ordinarily, the Sunburst/Abstract Torch would have had that famous jingle/title track from Suzanne Ciani, but on The China Syndrome, the Sunburst/AT was silent, and all we heard was the director (or whoever it was) say, "Playback please…" over the bars and tone of fictional L.A. station KXLA. If the Ciani jingle were there, it would have been quite the whiplash, IMO, to come down from that to the quiet control room scene.

    Here is that silent Sunburst/AT on The China Syndrome:

    And here is the opening shot that (also IMO) was a very good reason for the silent Sunburst/AT:

  25. bmasters9

    Wasn't that true about Columbia Pictures starting around 1981, when they changed (for their film logo) from the Sunburst/Abstract Torch to the 80s Torch Lady?

    I always liked the sunburst torch. Reminds me of when I was a little kid and I would see it in the movies or at the end of a television show.

  26. I remember how excited I was when the original Warner Bros logo was used on "Whats's Up Doc" and "Blazing Saddles" during the Saul Bass years. "Blazing Saddles" even used the traditional fanfare from Warner Bros movies of the 1940's. The new logo looks like something you would find on the back cover of an old Warner Reprise record album. Should be tiny and maybe used in the copyright notice or at the bottom of a movie poster. IE Released By Warner Bros with that logo.

  27. Josh Steinberg

    The name “Disney” or “20th Century Studios” doesn’t compel an average viewer to say, “My beliefs demand that I avoid this brand” or “My beliefs require that I patronize this brand.”

    I disagree. Some people have a similar reaction to anything Disney. Some people won't go to a Disney movie because it's a Disney movie.

  28. MatthewA

    I disagree. Some people have a similar reaction to anything Disney. Some people won't go to a Disney movie because it's a Disney movie.

    Some folks won't buy anything with the word "Sony" on it, whether it is video games, tvs, bluray players, computer dvd drives, movies, etc …

  29. jcroy

    Some folks won't buy anything with the word "Sony" on it, whether it is video games, tvs, bluray players, computer dvd drives, movies, etc …

    What kind of negative associations does Sony have that cause some to shy away from that brand?

  30. bmasters9

    What kind of negative associations does Sony have that cause some to shy away from that brand?

    It depends on the age of the person.

    I encountered anti-Sony folks back in the days of the Walkman. Basically some folks encountered one too many shoddy Walkman models, which didn't have decent quality control. Similar story with Sony branded stereo components.

    A lot more partisan were the folks who didn't jump onto the various Sony Playstation console models, and actively and deliberately hated Sony for just that sole reason. (Basically folks who hate Sony for the reasons that they're rationalizing their purchasing decisions of other consoles such as Sega, Nintendo, Xbox, etc …).

  31. jcroy

    It depends on the age of the person.

    I encountered anti-Sony folks back in the days of the Walkman. Basically some folks encountered one too many shoddy Walkman models, which didn't have decent quality control. Similar story with Sony branded stereo components.

    A lot more partisan were the folks who didn't jump onto the various Sony Playstation console models, and actively and deliberately hated Sony for just that sole reason. (Basically folks who hate Sony for the reasons that they're rationalizing their purchasing decisions of other consoles such as Sega, Nintendo, Xbox, etc …).

    And also, I've heard reports about how some Sony Blu-Rays have DRM that has wrecked people's computers if those Blus were inserted into computer drives (may be incorrect on that, though).

  32. (Without getting too heavily into politics).

    Another huge faction of anti-Sony folks I'm aware of, were older generations of Chinese and Korean folks who lived through the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during the 1940s and earlier. Essentially the occupations resembling Nazi Germany, where the kids were forced to "learn" Japanese, massacres, etc ….

    After world war 2, many Chinese and Korean folks became very anti-Japan in many aspects. They simply wouldn't buy anything "made in Japan" including Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, HItachi, etc ….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea_under_Japanese_rule
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War

  33. By design, the list to "brick" a bluray player/drive is read every time a bluray disc is inserted into a bluray player, whether standalone or computer. This blacklist is in the file MKB_RO.inf in the AACS directory on every pressed movie bluray disc. The "blacklist" is updated if the previous version (usually on a flash chip inside the player/drive) is older than a newer version on a newer bluray disc.

  34. jcroy

    (Without getting too heavily into politics).

    Another huge faction of anti-Sony folks I'm aware of, were older generations of Chinese and Korean folks who lived through the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during the 1940s and earlier. Essentially the occupations resembling Nazi Germany, where the kids were forced to "learn" Japanese, massacres, etc ….

    After world war 2, many Chinese and Korean folks became very anti-Japan in many aspects. They simply wouldn't buy anything "made in Japan" including Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, HItachi, etc ….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea_under_Japanese_rule
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War

    Let's not go there as that awful war has been over for almost 75 years!

  35. If people didn't care, then the new logo would have scored higher on the test. It doesn't matter how much technology changes; when you change something iconic, people notice. MGM/UA learned the hard way when this logo, according to the book Fade Out: The Calamitous Final Days of MGM by Peter Bart, got booed at a test screening by an audience expecting Leo the Lion:

  36. bmasters9

    What's wrong with the clouds?

    Over the past decade I have grown to hate that horrible cloud background and the tinkle of that infernal piano (for home video releases)! I want the logo to look (and sound) like it does in, say, the Harry Potter films, where it is given gravitas and where it produces anticipation, which it doesn't do for me when I see all those frigging, fluffy hand-drawn clouds behind it. I want fanfare that has punch, as did the Max Steiner openings of yore. I think a solid black background with a gold and red WB shield would be perfect for a lot of its releases. I don't much care for the streamlined, abstract logo WB is proposing. They should bring back the Saul Bass logo if they want to make such a radical change. There.

    But it's not just Warner Bros. I think Paramount has gone overboard with its damn stars that now fly in from outer space, skip over a lake and circle around the mountain (looks cool in 3D, though). I hated that "sunburst" Columbia logo used for a few years in the 70's. I'm so glad they returned to leaving the statue in frame throughout. I also despised the "neon" look of the so-called "progressive" Universal logo with its spikes of fluorescent colors protruding from the globe. I really like their latest one, created for their 75th anniversary but still going strong. Now, that's a keeper. You feel you are about to view something of importance. Sorry, but fluffy little clouds, even behind the impressive 3-D WB shield, do not do that for me.

    My favorite logos are largely from now-defunct companies, such as Geffen. What a remarkably simple yet effective design: a slowly turning sphere with a simple "carved" line that reveals itself to be the letter "G" when it finishes spinning. It's brilliant. I loved the original Orion constellation logo before they tried to fancy it up. The DreamWorks logo has always been impressive, and they've left it alone. And I give a huge shout out to Criterion for its current logo, which is also extraordinary, and one I never get tired of watching. Whoever designed this wasn't paid enough…even the stationary letter "C" tilted to the right is awesome.

    But dainty little clouds in back of a…well, you get what I'm saying, right, Ben? 😉

  37. Dick

    I hated that "sunburst" Columbia logo used for a few years in the 70's. I'm so glad they returned to leaving the statue in frame throughout.

    But dainty little clouds in back of a…well, you get what I'm saying, right, Ben? 😉

    In that case, I don't blame you for disliking the cloud background– on some discs I've had, the jingle sounded even worse.

    BTW, what did you think was wrong w/Columbia's Sunburst/Abstract Torch (what made you dislike that one)?

  38. The new Warner Brothers logo looks like an "IKEA" version of the logo….cheap looking……they should have just left the logo alone. SMH….I don't know what's going on with these studios these days. 🙁

  39. Edwin-S

    Things change. It is a corporate logo. People will get used to it in a few months and that will be the end of any "controversy".

    Well, "People" will not include me, and I will keep complaining about crumby updated logos, thank you very much! 🙂

    P.S. Geese, I must be getting irascible in my old age…

  40. jcroy

    This was the Sony/BMG drm used on their cd releases back in 2005.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal

    This was on so-called "CDs". (I don't believe they actually qualified to be called CDs.)

    One piece of garbage code broke the ability to do digital audio extraction, so you couldn't copy the music that you had bought to your computer or portable music player. There was a second piece of hidden garbage code – a "root kit" to hide the first piece of code, so that it would be difficult or impossible for you or for any "cleaner" utility to remove it.

    My reaction to news of this was to boycott everything Sony for a LONG time. Including especially the CDs that I normally would have been buying.

  41. what an uninspiring new logo. I’m in design…this would never have even gotten out of a brainstorm meeting at my firm. No hearts will start racing when that thing comes on the screen.

    I do agree about the current logo tho…cartoonish clouds, loud piano, overworked rendering. No great loss to see that disappear. I guess they went in the opposite direction and decided to make it look like the logo of a bargain grocery store. Oh well.

    Twentieth Century Fox was always my favorite.

  42. Cranston37

    The name changed but at least they kept the logo 😉

    View attachment 68697

    They kept it, but now it's this big block of shiny gold that looks like chrome, with the fancy fly-around of "the camera." I much prefer the earlier, non-cgi versions, which had better color design and did not have that artificial ex-machina look. As for the audio, the original CinemaScope "extension" fanfare (by Alfred Newman), despite the re-recording for the modern rendition using all the audio technology of today, still sounds best to me. Guess I'm just a kind of nostalgic purist. Yeah, time marches on, but (for me, at least), it doesn't necessarily bring with it any improvement on what came before.

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