How People Feel About the 2019 Warner Bros. Logo Redesign

Branding
Kelsey McKeon
2/6/2020

Award-winning studio Warner Bros. didn't win most people over with its redesigned logo. Our survey of 1,001 people in the U.S. found that just 11% prefer the new blue-and-white shield. The previous logo, a three-dimensional, gold-and-blue shield, evoked feelings of nostalgia for many, but the new logo is optimized for smaller screen streaming entertainment as opposed to the big-screen features of the past.

Warner Bros. is an iconic entertainment production company whose films and television programs span most of the last century. Its latest hit, the 2019 film “Joker,” was nominated for 11 Academy Awards in 2020 — the most nominations of any film.

The company will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2023. To prepare for the milestone, Warner Bros. changed its iconic shield logo for the 12th time in the company’s history and the first major change since 1984

Most people, however, are not as excited about the redesign as they are about “Joker” and Warner Bros.’ other box office hits. 

We asked 1,001 people in the United States whether they preferred the old Warner Bros. logo or the 2019 redesign. Just 11% say they prefer the updated Warner Bros. shield.

We Found That...

Most people (89%) prefer the old Warner Bros. logo to the 2019 redesign.

Most People Prefer the Old Warner Bros. Logo to the 2019 Logo Redesign

Warner Bros.’s recent update to its shield logo fell flat — most people prefer the previous logo.

About 89% of people prefer the old logo, which is famous for its use of gold and three-dimensional design.

The new Warner Bros. logo maintains the company’s iconic shield imagery but streamlines the design into a two-dimensional shape.

89% of people prefer the old Warner Bros. logo 

The redesigned Warner Bros. logo features a blue-and-white design with a narrower shield and custom lettering. It also dropped the banner that reads “Warner Bros. Pictures,” a highlight of the old logo.

The new logo was just one part of a complete rebrand for Warner Bros. from graphic design company Pentagram, which also recently redesigned the Yahoo logo.

Pentagram created a “comprehensive identity system” for the company, with different variations of the blue-and-white shield design.

New Warner Bros. Logos

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The “flat” design distinguishes the new shield from the old, three-dimensional shield.  According to the Interaction Design Foundation, flat design is a style that uses bright, two-dimensional colors and shapes.

A three-dimensional version of the new logo was part of the rebrand and included on the Warner Bros. studio water tower, but the company uses the two-dimensional logo for most branded merchandise.

The iconic shield shape is present in the new design, which creates a sense of continuity for Warner Bros. Pentagram, however, slightly altered the dimensions of the shield to fall in line with the “Golden Ratio” that would make the shape more visually appealing.

The Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio that’s found in nature and used in design to create beauty through proportion.

Canva Golden Ratio Spiral

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Pentagram slightly adjusted the proportions of the Warner Bros. shield to fit into this ideal ratio, hoping it would be more aesthetically pleasing.

The redesigned logo also came with a custom font and updated mission statement, creating an entirely new identity for a nearly 100-year-old brand.

Consumers, unfortunately, did not share Warner Bros.’ excitement about the rebrand, despite its thoughtful and comprehensive redesign.

The Old Warner Bros. Logo Evokes Nostalgia for Consumers

Warner Bros. used its previous logo since the 1980s, meaning an entire generation has identified the entertainment giant by the gold-and-blue shield.

The old logo’s three-dimensional, “skeuomorphic” design is synonymous with modern classics such as Looney Tunes, the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Wonder Woman,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy.

Old Warner Bros. Logo

Skeuomorphic designs take digital objects and add dimension and appear striking on the big screen. 

Three-dimensional, skeuomorphic designs were popular among web designers before flat, minimalist designs became the norm for increasingly digital experiences around 2012.

“Flat, one-dimensional designs seem to be considered more modern than their three-dimensional counterparts,” said Melanie Davis, a writer at Hotels4Teams.

Recently redesigned logos for retailers Lord & Taylor and Sears, for example, have flat designs similar to the new Warner Bros. logo. Not every flat logo redesign is unsuccessful, however —in Lord & Taylor’s case, consumers prefer the updated logo.

Some people also dislike the logo’s updated color scheme, saying it’s a little too close to another popular brand — Facebook.

“[Warner Bros. has] gone with the overused 'white-and-blue' color palette, which reminds me of Facebook,” said Luka Arezina, editor-in-chief at data security blog DataProt. “If you’re watching a Warners Bros. movie with your kids, the last thing you want to be reminded of is social media.”

Others are disappointed at the company’s decision to do away with the classic gold branding.

“Colors matter, and there is no more regal color than gold,” said Mitch Goldstone, film historian, and CEO of ScanMyPhotos. “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.”

The old Warner Bros. logo also evokes feelings of nostalgia among many consumers. This is the only Warner Bros. logo 20% of survey respondents, who were born after 1984, have ever known.

“On a personal level, I don't really like the change because I have really fond memories of watching Warner Bros. cartoons all my childhood,” said William Taylor, career development manager at VelvetJobs

Taylor, however, believes the brand’s redesign suits technological developments, as more people use their mobile devices to consume entertainment.

“From a professional perspective, I do realize that their old logo was highly detailed and hard to use at a small scale and in digital contexts,” Taylor said.

More people are watching TV shows and films on smaller devices such as smartphones and tablets. The new Warner Bros. logo will be easier to see and use across these platforms.

The redesigned Warner Bros. logo upsets consumers who associate the previous gold branding with memories and brand dominance.

People Expect the Iconic Shield in the Warner Bros. Logo

The redesigned blue-and-white logo is Warner Bros.’ 12th major logo redesign since the company was founded in 1923 but keeps the well-known shield design. 

By keeping the shield image, the updated logo maintains a brand identity that has been consistent over the past century.

The first Warner Bros. logo from 1923 showed the studio building encompassed by the familiar shield form.

The shield remained part of nearly every Warner Bros. logo since 1923, with the exception of the 10th logo, which lasted from 1972 until 1984

Evolution of Warner Bros. Logo

Each Warner Bros. logo can be tailored to specific films or shows. 

The “Harry Potter” film franchise, for example, saw different variations of the pre-2019 Warner Bros. logo throughout its eight films.

The first two films kept the traditional gold-and-blue Warner Bros. shield, with subsequent directors changing the logo color slightly to fit the mood of the story — but still always keeping the shield.

Harry Potter Warner Bros. Logo Progression

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The three-dimensional shield shape maintained its metallic appearance for each film but evolved from the traditional gold to silver and then rusted metal for the final, darker installment in the series.

Pentagram redesigned the Warner Bros. logo with the same versatility in mind, keeping the iconic shield shape but allowing and encouraging directors to change the logo to suit their work.

The new logo’s clean lines will help customized versions of the logo appear sharper on smaller screens, but it might take time before people embrace the redesign.

People Are Hesitant to Embrace the Redesigned Warner Bros. Logo

Warner Bros. redesigned its logo in 2019, but many consumers aren’t fans of the change. Only 11% of people prefer the new logo, according to our survey.

The old logo evoked a sense of nostalgia for people who grew up with Warner Bros. Entertainment. Others criticized the new logo’s simple design and colors.

The redesigned logo is the latest in a long history of new logos for the entertainment company. Just like the previous logos, directors and creators will be able to customize the new logo to suit their projects. 

Ultimately, the updated branding will coincide with the company’s centennial celebration, and people will have to become accustomed to seeing the new designs on future Warner Bros. projects.

About the Survey

Visual Objects surveyed 1,001 people in the United States.

Less than half of respondents (44%) identified as female, 36% identified as male, and 19% declined to self-identify.

One-fifth of respondents (18%) are ages 18-34, 12% are ages 25-34, 25% are ages 35-54, 32% are 55 and above, and 23% declined to identify their age.

Respondents are from the Midwest (28%), Northeast (16%), South (33%), and West (23%).