A Lesson in Stereotyping

By Mash Bonigala

In logo design, it is important to know your audience. After all, if a logo is meant to appeal to a certain group, this will certainly be an important part of the design process. The colors, fonts and images are all selected with the target audience in mind.

Nobody knows the American female audience better than the people who market to them. Marketing to women happens to be the sole purpose of the NBC Universal initiative Women at NBCU. This section of NBC works with brands and advertising agencies to create marketing aimed at women throughout NBC’s vast empire of television channels and programs.

The company previously used a logo that featured overlapping circles with the name of the initiative in round, lower case letters in the center. It used modern colors and was a fine logo, but television companies can never leave well enough alone. The company recently redesigned their logo design to tie in more with the NBC Universal brand while also representing modern women a little better.

The new media logo design is a circle in an appallingly bright shade of hot pink, with a W that is designed to resemble the classic peacock image that has been associated with NBC throughout the years. Tall, thin writing in blocky letters bears the name, which has been moved outside the circle.

I imagine the conversations that surrounded this new logo design as going something like this:

Well, it’s pink and round, like American women. Right? Throw a stylized peacock in there and we’re good to go.

In case you cannot tell, I am not a huge fan of the new design. It seems a little too stereotypical. The color, the circle, all of it. The old one had its issues—the font felt out of date, for example—but it was better than this. The female market is not full of fluffy pink viewers who love to stare at circles. The creation of a W from the NBC peacock image is clever, but it just is not enough to carry the rest of the logo. Further, the spacing feels off. The logo design font and image feel like parts of two separate designs.

One important thing to remember is that this logo is not one that is meant to be seen by female viewers. It will be seen mainly by companies that are working with NBC Universal to market to female viewers. That is an important difference. On the other hand, remember what I said about advertisers knowing women better than they know themselves? Most people will see this logo design for what it is: a stereotype, and an ugly one at that. The old logo seemed a better representative of the American female television audience.

Ironically, the peacock on the classic NBC logo design is a male one—only males have the plumage and color that most of us associate with the bird. NBC is assuming, probably correctly, that most products of the American public school system were never taught this fact. This logo design seems to be a miss on so many levels. The good news is that this awkward and unattractive logo will probably remain out of the public eye, where it belongs.