British Gas Logo

British Gas Logo

This popped up on Creative Review. They didn’t really comment on the update but focused the story on the agency that updated it, which was their ad agency, as opposed to a dedicated branding agency.

I don’t really have a problem with that, there are surely plenty of talented creative types who can do this kind of thing within the agency, so why shouldn’t they. Although what they’ve come up with leaves me feeling a little cold. It ticks all the current big brand update boxes; A ribbon, check, gradients, check, customised font, check, friendly and environmental green, check!

There is plenty wrong with it but I wouldn’t say it’s hateful to look at and it will look nice on customers bills and in their promotional materials. But I do have issues with it.

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Firstly the ‘British Gas’ looks really ungainly. The ‘Gas’ in particular looks wobbly, the tapering in of the G makes the a and s look wonky, the whole think looks like one of those optical illusions where the picture seems to be moving. The dots on the i’s are pretty much awful as well, designed to match the tips of t and h, but ending up looking like either fingernails or one of those mini cans of deodorant.

Then to the flame.

Some commentators have suggested that they needed to move away from the flame to some extent as British Gas now sell not only gas but electricity and home services (the UK’s biggest apparently), but I have to disagree with them on this point. For a start, they’re still calling themselves British Gas so are not making any real attempts to move away from their history, so the flame still sits above the word Gas. Also, they’ve managed to move into these new areas despite their gaseous history, I suspect very few consumers think they still sell gas. They ran a pretty smart ad campaign when they first started in the electricity business playing on the British Gas name, so no one is in doubt about what they can provide I’m sure.

They’re amongst a bunch of companies who’ve really carried off expanding their offering without changing a seemingly inappropriate name, The Carphone Warehouse springs to mind as do both the AA and RAC, who have expanded well beyond breakdown to insurance, driving lessons, windscreen repair and now home support in competition with British Gas.

Plus British Gas has been part of the ‘Centrica’ group for a number of years and chosen not to take up that generic moniker for consumers, so the idea that the less obvious flame was needed to promote a wider offering is bunkum.

The truth is the flame has been created to be more friendly and greener to customers, to update its look to something the big guys see as modern and in line with what consumers are looking for.

The sad thing is it just looks so generic and insipid. Take it away from the wording and it could be for any company. The negative space within it is awkward and where the green and blues meet sharp and horrible. I dislike how it sits where it does, too high and either not pushed right enough or bring it in a bit to the left, just don’t leave it there.

The truth might be that I just hate change, and on this one it’s true. I liked the old logo, sure it’s Helvetica (I don’t care if it’s not cool, I like Helvetica) and the blue is a little dark, but the flame is fantastic, it says British Gas, sweeps up energetically and I love the inner flames created by the smaller shape and the negative space.

At the end of the day, it’s not been designed for me as an observer of brands but me as a consumer. I’m sure they will get great success from it but it’s just a little disappointing and yet another happy warm update for a strong classic brand, which to my mind is wearing a little thin.

290PS. It’s been bugging me as I’ve written this, where I’ve seen that ‘i’ shape before, and it turns out my recent illness related daytime TV watching may have paid off. Fluffy, self-depreciating celebrity worshipping morning TV show Lorraine has a very similar ‘i’ facing the other direction. Quite a thing to aspire too, looking a bit like a naff morning show. Well done BG!

This article was originally posted on the Derby Graphic Design blog, on the 14th October 2011. We’re happy to welcome it to it’s new home on the logocurio.us site.