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The logos for Beats by Dre and Oxford Dictionary look extremely similar side by side.We’re not loving the new logo for Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO). First, the blue icon is uncannily similar to the ubiquitous icon for Beats by Dre headphones.

The old and new logo for Oxford Dictionaries, side by side.

The new logo (top) is a radical departure from the old logo, which wasn’t flashy but did convey the appropriate gravitas.

Second, the logo (the blue one, at right)  fails to fulfill its primary function, which is to impart the spirit of the brand at a glance. To our eyes, this logo says “youthful, hip and fun,” which is fine for $200 headphones (as represented by Beats by Dre, the red logo), but counterintuitive when representing a brand that is the foremost authority on the English language.

We wonder what audience this logo was designed to attract: students who own, or wish they owned, Dr. Dre headphones and want a dictionary to match? In fact, the goal was to attract “a wider audience,” according to the folks at Accrue Fulton, the British firm hired for the rebranding project. To accomplish that goal, they “tried to give ODO a more modern and accessible feel.” We’ve read their rationale (and you can too by clicking here). But in our view the new marque misses the mark. In a case like this, we would advise evolving the brand with a nod to modernity, instead of ditching the whole gravitas thing altogether.

The evolution of the BMW logo.

By contrast, BMW has kept its branding current by making subtle changes that remain true to the brand’s status and personality. Notice how BMW returned to its classic look after the branding strayed too far in the 70’s and 80’s.

Need help with design, writing and/or marketing strategy for your promotional materials and/or website? Email Kim Landry or call 484.829.0021.