Here at Roundpeg, we love a good discussion about rebranding, especially when it involves drastic changes to well-known logos. The topic this week was the recently updated JCPenney logo. Similar to the “new Gap logo incident” of 2011, this one has been causing a stir among designers and non-designers alike.

Just last year, JCPenney changed their logo to the all lowercase version which had the letters “jcp” reversed on a red square. The most recent logo change followed an announcement that the department store will no longer be offering hundreds of sale opportunities each year, and will instead be moving to a system involving three levels of discounts, to “keep things simple.”

The strategy is being called “fair and square,” and the new logo is a very literal interpretation of that. Peter and I had a long discussion about the logo and whether or not we thought it was successful. It still incorporates the square from the previous version, but the square is now blue and hangs uncomfortably in the upper left corner of a larger red and white square. It is very clearly meant to represent an American flag, which is bizarre, since the majority of JCPenney’s products are manufactured outside the US.

Besides the flag, which seems cliche and unnecessary, I have a few other issues with this particular rebranding project. I believe that when a company makes the decision to rebrand, it needs to be an extremely well thought out and executed plan. The fact that JCPenney rolled out a new logo less than a year ago makes me think they aren’t taking their rebranding as seriously as they should be. Repeatedly changing your logo and marketing strategy is a pretty surefire way to decrease recognition and brand loyalty.

CEO Myron E. Ullman was quoted as saying: “Our new logo reflects the modern retailer we’ve become while continuing to honor our rich legacy.” To me, the logo feels very old-fashioned. With its tired color scheme and font choice, and what seems to be an obvious lack of inspiration, the new logo feels extremely dated and uninspired.  While it hasn’t garnered quite the level of reaction the Gap logo did, from what I have seen so far, people are bored. The consumer has already seen too many variations of this square logo before and they’re ready for designers to think outside the box and show them something new and fresh.