Good logo, bad logo – Gateshead’s revamped Wilkinson and Argos stores
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Given that a significant chunk of Gateshead town centre is currently flattened and awaiting redevelopment, it’s pleasing to see one of the town’s biggest retailers investing in its store.
Along with Tesco, the long-established Wilkinson store in the Interchange Centre is probably the town centre’s biggest draw. It’s not as big as the massive stores in Newcastle or South Shields, but it’s a decent size and always busy, stocking many product ranges that aren’t readily available elsewhere in the town.
Popping in last week, I was pleased to see that the interior of the store is getting a spruce up, and that the old, rather tired Wilkinson signs have been replaced by ones bearing the new, cleaner logo – previously blogged about in July 2009. As I argued then, I find the new, crisp logo a massive improvement on its rather old-fashioned and clunky predecessor.
Inside the store, the ongoing revamp seems very similar to the rebranded and modernised stores that I’ve already seen in Leeds and Sunderland, with improved signage, better views through the store, and a generally cleaner and less cluttered feel.
Outside – both in West Street, and within the transport interchange – the Wilkinson building is hardly a looker with its crinkly brown and red façade. However, the new signage makes a surprisingly big difference in giving it a fresher appearance, even if the West Street sign does seem a rather odd shape – presumably to cover up the holes left by the old one.
In contrast, the building on the opposite side of West Street has a new logo that I’m finding it much harder to warm to. This is the Argos store, occupying part of what used to be the North East Co-op department store in New Century House.
In common with the rebranding taking place across the rest of the 700-plus-strong Argos estate, the store has recently gained new signage, featuring the chain’s revamped logo.
When the modernised logo was launched just over a year ago, Argos’s Head of Brand Marketing was quoted by Retail Week, making reference to the “strong customer recognition” of the Argos ‘smile’ and arguing that the new version “remains instantly recognisable” but “feels more modern and relevant.”
I’m not convinced – to me, the new logo just looks like a cheapened version of the old, while at the same time hanging together less successfully as a piece of design.
To be honest, I’d never realised that the swirl was supposed to be a smile, but it worked well as a device in linking together the ‘A’ and the ‘s’, and giving the logo a coherent look. In the new version, in contrast, the ‘smile’ floats oddly under the text, while the formerly distinctive font has been replaced by something much more bland and generic.
Even as signage, the modernised font seems to work less well. While the old version usually had the red text superimposed on a blue background, the new one commonly ends up with a red rectangle seemingly stuck slightly randomly on top of a blue backdrop. An improvement? Again, not in my book.
Perhaps the chain’s shoppers will agree that the new look is “more modern and relevant” – but it certainly doesn’t put an Argos smile on my face.