From Bad to Not Quite So Bad?


Psion, the London company that brought us the original, Linux-based Netbook, recently rebranded. This will come as a shock to former Psion-loving geeks, because most of us assumed that the company closed long ago. Indeed, they are still in business and even recently introduced a new and more modern logo design.

Indeed, modern is the only positive adjective that we can use to describe the new logo. It is glossy and shiny to a fault, appearing almost blinding.  It is hard on the eyes. The letters are formed from square metals letters in sizes that appear almost random. They have different weights, different sizes and indeed nothing in common except for sharp corners and the same texture. It is hard to image a logo more unattractive… although the old one is a good candidate. It seems overly technological and contrived, like it was meant to appeal to an audience of very young adolescent boys.

The old logo featured black rectangles with bright yellow letters. The letters are topped by runes that can be made from the letters, as seen in the animation. Random much? It is hard to understand what the meaning could possibly have been. Perhaps Psion felt that they were telling the future and referring to the prophetic qualities once held by runes. Perhaps they were implying that the runes were another ‘language’ and referring to the computer language of our digital era. It is difficult to tell, which made this a very bad logo.

While it is difficult to figure out the meaning of the old design, we suspect strongly that the new one contains no meaning at all. It was possibly selected by someone in the corporation with no sense of style whatsoever. While we are used to seeing artificial lighting and gradients in modern logos, this one seems to take these devices to an extreme. The range of weights is more baffling; not even stylish, it creates a visually unpleasant and even jarring logo design.

The only interesting factor about this logo is the debate over whether the old was better than the new, or vice versa. Has Psion gone from bad to worse or from bad to not so bad? Ultimately, the answer is irrelevant. Regardless of whether their current (bad) logo is an improvement over its predecessor, it still will do nothing to build the company or attract a new customer base.

A further issue that came to mind is that of the Toyota model Scion, which is pronounced identically to this company’s name. We would imagine that the two companies are sometimes confused, especially in the North American markets in which the Scion is most popular. Because the new logo looks like one for an automobile with its shiny, metallic letters, the confusion may get even worse with this rebranding.

Rebranding is important if you are using an out of date logo. However, it goes without saying that the new one needs to be better than the old.