Play.com Loses Direction?

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Play.com is a well-known website in the UK, a homegrown alternative to Amazon. It is the second largest online retailer in the UK, following—you guessed it—Amazon. It is also available in the US and a handful of other countries, although the new logo design that we are writing about today has only been released in the UK market. This makes sense because our country remains its top market and thus its top branding priority.

Play.com basically sells toys for adults, diversions including DVDs, CDs, books, electronics and more. This August, we noticed that the website was changing. It officially made the switch a few weeks ago to a new and more modern brand.

The old logo featured the name of the website in indigo upper case letters, rounded in a friendly way. The .com portion used smaller lettering, which never made sense. The image featured a play button similar to those seen on a VHS or DVD player.

This image is conspicuously absent from the new logo design. The new logo features simply the name of the website. Instead of using smaller letters, the .com portion is now slightly thinner. This brings attention to the word ‘play’ without being as obvious. In addition, the colour palette has been changed as well, from indigo and gold to a more youthful blue and orange.

We have never been fans of using buttons in logo design, although they certainly work at times. The problem with this play button in particular is that it is rounded and looks like one on a VHS player. Do you own one of those? We didn’t think so. This is hardly the outdated image that the company wanted to present.

However, the new logo design feels a bit bare and understated. Perhaps this is just because we are used to seeing the more complicated old logo. The play button was not just relevant to the name; the arrow gave the logo design a feeling of movement and a focal point. While the image certainly needed redrawn, it did not deserve to be discarded altogether. In addition, the writing is a little too rounded. Lower case sans serif lettering is quickly becoming over-used in UK logo design. While it works well for some brands, it just does not seem technological or official enough for a brand with this clout. After all, Play.com is a leader in UK retail.

Although it would be nice to see some sort of image in this new logo, a change in products is one good reason for the play button to bid adieu. When Play.com opened shop, they sold mainly DVDs. This made the image highly relevant. The web superstore now carries a variety of items, so the play button probably needs to go. Still, this logo design feels too safe. It needs something else.

Has your business made huge changes since your logo design was created? If so, it may be time to rebrand. It is possible to create a UK logo design that will be relevant to your company and your market without making drastic changes such as this one.