I haven’t seen one of those in a while…

Back of the WHSmith store in Redcar (17 Sep 2009)

Back of the WHSmith store in Redcar (17 Sep 2009)

Visiting Redcar today, I was amused to spot a little throwback to the past in the form of an old WHSmith fascia, featuring the once familiar cube of ‘W’, ‘H’ and ‘S’ letters. 

Curiously, the main frontage of the store in Redcar High Street features the more up-to-date blue fascia with white text (below), but someone has either forgotten to update the goods entrance or decided that it really isn’t terribly important. 

The more commonly seen WHSmith logo these days

The more commonly seen WHSmith logo these days

It must be about a decade since I last saw the old logo featured on a WHSmith store, though – I remember it being on the old Eldon Square branch in Newcastle, before that closed and business moved to the shiny new branch on the old Littlewoods site in Northumberland Street. Needless to say, readers, it would be fun to hear of any other places that you know of where the former logo is still in situ. 

It is interesting, though, how a logo that looks fairly innocuous at the point of being retired begins to look rather quaint and dated once you’ve got so used to its replacement. Redcar aside, however, WHSmith seems to have done a pretty good job of rolling its new logo out over the years – and that is important. 

Current WHSmith signage, on a typical store. Photograph by Graham Soult

Current WHSmith signage, on a typical store

If you’re a retailer going for a new visual identity, with all the brand values and sense of change that that espouses, it needs to be comprehensively and consistently applied – as House of Fraser has recently done. In contrast, retailers such as Matalan, Next and M&S have all been rather slow at applying their new visual identities to existing stores; the risk is that it creates and communicates a two-tier estate – those most important stores that are evidently worthy of rebranding; and those lower in the pecking order that seemingly aren’t so worth investing in.

15 Responses to “I haven’t seen one of those in a while…”

  1. Adam said:

    Sep 27, 09 at 19:34

    It is strange seeing this logo now, the colours are just unattractive. The new look is certainly more desirable. I suppose this is just because we have become so used to seeing this new form.

    The WHSmith store in Swansea has the old logo imprinted on the glass of the windows.

  2. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Some observations from visiting MetroCentre today said:

    Oct 05, 09 at 18:51

    [...] MetroCentre’s Waterstone’s illustrates the point that I made here about retailers not bothering to upgrade certain stores within their estate. Not only does the [...]

  3. kyberhai said:

    Jan 29, 10 at 00:02

    What a stellar find!

    Really, aside from the lack of punctuation and capitalisation in the name – Mummy what’s a “Whsmith”? – then I loved the warm earthy colours of the old version.

    I think it may have something to do with this:
    http://www.leytransport.i12.com/nottc.jpg
    They were always at railway stations – back when more railway stations still had souls. All brings back fond memories of train journies as a child :>

  4. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » One bus ticket – 11 former Midlands Woolies said:

    Nov 02, 10 at 10:23

    [...] like the archaic WHSmith logo that I happened upon in Redcar, it’s an interesting example of a retailer rebranding but forgetting – or just not bothering [...]

  5. Thrifty Beatnik said:

    Dec 03, 10 at 08:55

    With the knocking down of the old ‘Pig n’ Whistle’,’Mikes’s Cafe’ and what I think was an independent video shop (very rare nowadays) this old WHSmith’s logo is more visible.

    I quite like the old logo really as there newer one seems to simply ape Waterstone’s.

    Next door to this old logo in ‘Redcar Literacy Club’ if you look in the upper windows there’s currently a rather humorous sign which reads ‘Reeding Club’….

  6. RPKGV said:

    Dec 03, 10 at 21:41

    I think the new one looks really posh and bland.

  7. Soult's Retail View » The return of “I haven’t seen one of those in a while…” said:

    Jan 19, 11 at 11:47

    [...] in September 2009, Soult’s Retail View readers seemed to enjoy my exposé of an old-style WHSmith logo at the rear of the branch in Redcar - well over a decade after that logo was supposedly [...]

  8. Bad Web Design: Rubbish Colour Schemes | Scrapper Duncan said:

    Aug 29, 11 at 08:19

    [...] (Photo reproduced with kind permission from Graham Soult) [...]

  9. WillPS said:

    Sep 15, 11 at 13:26

    The WHS in Nottingham Train Station still wears the cube logo (albeit sans ‘S’ – as if they tried to get rid of it and found it far too much of a faff!).

  10. Graham Soult said:

    Sep 15, 11 at 13:37

    That definitely warrants a photo – as long as you can get one without being arrested! :)

  11. Alex Martin said:

    Sep 26, 11 at 20:41

    Two years on from your post and there’s still a shiny and well-kept WHS logo on the front of the Chippenham store: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexmartin81/5998971814/

    Maybe this is a Wiltshire speciality, given they also have a beautifully out-of-date “J Sainsbury” in Swindon. Check out the retro aisle signs! http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=23108377@N07&q=sainsbury+swindon&m=text

  12. Graham Soult said:

    Sep 26, 11 at 20:45

    Great stuff, Alex! Did you see my recent blogs about retail in Swindon? http://www.soultsretailview.co.uk/2011/09/15/swindons-former-woolworths-store-past-present-and-an-uncertain-future/ and http://www.soultsretailview.co.uk/2011/09/15/swindons-bhs-provides-a-taster-of-what-newcastle-and-hartlepool-can-expect/.

    Chippenham’s still on the to-do list, but I expect to get there in the next month or two ;)

  13. Soult's Retail View » The fragment of Uniqlo that lives on in Coventry said:

    Mar 02, 12 at 13:04

    [...] whether it’s highlighting pre-1995 BHS logos in Carlisle or WHSmith cubes in Redcar, there’s a certain satisfaction to be derived from celebrating the signage that retailers [...]

  14. Soult's Retail View » Photo blog: ten shop fascias that time – and the retailers – forgot said:

    Aug 24, 12 at 20:41

    [...] it’s long-forgotten remnants of departed retailers, or 1980s fascias that chains have forgotten to update, there’s something satisfying about coming across bits of retail heritage in unexpected [...]

  15. Mike Rigby said:

    Jun 11, 13 at 23:12

    My mate’s dad, Ian Middleton, designed the WHS cube. I remember him showing me the early sketches in the 70s.


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