I’m not sure that I was ever “blown away” by the previous Medium logo. To quote the recent “The Story Behind Medium’s New Logo”, I had indeed perceived it as “simple, elegant, and strong.” I never questioned it though, even as a designer myself. There was something so blunt about it that there was no need to question a thing, honestly. It just sort of sat contently locked to the top left of my browser window, reminding me that, yes, I was still on the Medium site.
It wasn’t until this morning that I realized I really, really liked that Stag “M”, actually.
A co-worker Slacked me a link to their logo “reveal” post and I immediately started reading. I’m not sure why, but I thought the whole article was somehow going to end in a beautiful twist of irony. I scrolled through their identity process and justification jargon and smirked to myself at their sketches of other logos. And I genuinely hoped that once I got to the end of the article, Medium was going to inform me that they had to go through the motions of a “glamorous redesign” to realize that what they had initially was perfect. There would be the old M with a supporting caption that read “The Stag M is here to stay.”
Then I scrolled all the way down and realized this wasn’t a fucking joke.
My heart sank, kind of. That sounds cliche, but I think it actually did. It’s like that niche form of empathy when you strangely feel very, very sorry for someone making a legitimate fool of his or herself. When it’s totally their fault, but you feel bad for them all the same. Like the dude at a mild wedding reception who took the “Hey, someone’s gotta start the dance party!” memo just a bit too much to heart.
Not liking the new Medium logo is one thing. I am not one to ignore justification for something; I can still respect something that is out of my aesthetic preference comfort zone, especially if I respect the process. But I just don’t even understand this one…
In the relatively short time that I’ve been a Medium advocate, I’ve still felt a strong connection to its brand: It’s elegant. It’s timeless. It’s blunt. It’s honest. It’s no-bullshit. It’s content-focused.
Medium reinforced this idea that if a story is written right, it doesn’t need extra fluff to “shine.”
I felt like the formatting and branding that Medium provided was the perfect stage for any story. The previous brand served the same purpose that a blackbox theater does for a talented improv group. A good troupe can make a purposely stripped-down stage into any setting they want to — it’s still a theater (so it’s legit), but it leaves more to the imagination.
But I digress…this new logo doesn’t ruin everything. Medium is still an incredible platform for storytelling and thought leadership. But this new vibe does throw me off. Because they changed the logo, the overall brand loses some credibility. It loses some timelessness. It might gain some trendy points (maybe?)… but that makes me fear for a few years down the road when isometric green polygons creating illegible depth isn’t “cool” anymore. You can do a lot with your branding elements — a logo isn’t the only vehicle that can carry your soul and personality.
In conclusion, maybe not being “blown away” by a logo isn’t so much of a curse after all. Maybe its context is what actually matters.
Here’s to hoping that Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr don’t try to jazz their own logos up too much… I like that beautifully simple letters can still mean something huge.