Waterstone’s – A ‘pointless’ rebrand

Waterstone’s appear to have rebranded from their old sharp pointy logo shown here:

Waterstone’s old logo - a nice pointy thing with some classic typography
Waterstone’s old logo - a nice pointy thing with some classic typography

And they have replaced it with this somewhat ‘pointless’ effort:

Waterstone's new logo - a rather pointless effort in every respect
Waterstone's new logo - a rather pointless effort in every respect

But I find myself asking why. They have 303 stores and to even replace the fascia and a few bits of POS around the store will cost them an absolute minimum of £10k per store to actually implement the change of logo. This gives them a bare minimum bill of £3.03 Million to update the stores. Cheap by some comparisons, but will it help them sell any extra books?

Not in my opinion.

Again, if we assume they made £2 on every book they sell (which seems highly unlikely), then that means they have to sell over 1.5 million extra books even to stand still. I can’t see a logo that looks like some old lady’s droopy appendages actually driving a single extra customer to buy from them, let alone to buy more and more from them.

Rebrands need to mark the change in a business and show that what it has done previously will be left behind in favour of it’s new way of behaving going forwards. If it is a line in the sand then this marking of the change can be beneficial. But not if the change is to make them look less authoritative and stylish than they did before.

In my opinion (and i’m happy for anyone and everyone to disagree with me), this is the worst sort of rebrand. A bad and pointless one that will continue to give our industry a bad name.

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23 thoughts on “Waterstone’s – A ‘pointless’ rebrand

  1. Will their shops be titled “waterstones.com” too, or is it just the web site? I thought we had moved away from putting the domain extensions on company names!

  2. I completely agree John. Apart from the fact that the new look is bland, as you point out there seems to be no good reason behind this exercise.

    I suspect that behind this is an agency that didn’t challenge the client enough and just took the money…

    1. What is even more surprising is that it is by a pretty credible design firm called Venture Three http://www.venturethree.co.uk/ who have done Sky, HMV (again with droopy logo) and some nice considered work.

      Ultimately, the market will decide whether it is any good and for me, this may even hurry them into an early grave as I don’t think it even gets them close to Amazon as an online retailer.

  3. Yes I think this seems to be a backward step. Lost its elegance.

    Really don’t think having the web address adds anything, seems a pointless and excessive gesture.

    Have they recently appointed a new marketing manager who wanted to make a mark? As the new re-brand seems to add no logical value.

    Plus on the website at the moment they still have the old flavicon!

    1. I’ve just checked again and not sure if it’s your cache, but mine is showing the new favicon now. I still think it’s a bit rubbish though!

  4. This is truely awful. Bland, non-descript, safe, and yes, utterly pointless. That’s not good! FYI HMV are operated by Waterstone’s, so perhaps HMV will be next on this dreary rebrand hit-list

    1. Good point about HMV. It’s a good account handler who can sell them a crappy design twice. Funnily enough, both businesses seem to be limping a touch to me as they are in a market with extremely aggressive competitors.

  5. Hello, I’ve been hearing a lot about this rebrand on Twitter. It’s interesting. Is it pointless? I don’t think it necessary is. The logo is clearly aimed at a different market and is an attempt to show that they are accepting in the fact they they need to change to keep up with the changing times and this is their attempt at keeping the brand fresh. The thing I’d be interested to know is whether all this talk that’s finding it’s way around Twitter and blogs is going to create a spike in their sales and registered users to offset the cost of the rebrand and increase their customer base. Personally, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

  6. I like the idea of the W as two books abutting each other but they’ve not defined it enough to make it work. And yes, it does lose the elegance we love about Waterstones. It turns what is the Waitrose of book supermarkets into a Coop.

  7. I never realised this was the intended connotation – well-spotted Cristina. If, as you say, this was better executed it may just have given this somewhat insipid logo more gravitas. What a shame.

    Nonetheless, perhaps Waterstones have more up their sleeve. If this marks the beginning of some thoughtful integrated marketing activity, it could be redeemed yet….

  8. Like Cristina I like the idea of two books abutting, which isn’t the first thing they look like, but with a bit more crafting could have looked better.

    Obviously aimed at a younger / online market and with the website address in the logo does this mean they see less future for the shops, therefore no longer 303 stores to refurbish?

  9. Have you seen the lovely swirly, colourful version on their home page today – maybe more ‘intergrated and planned’ than originally thought?

    1. I have seen that thankyou Mr Simon, but it looks a bit crappy on there to me. As a cross between a less good Thames Valley University (http://www.tvu.ac.uk/) a much less good Natural History Museum (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/) and an even less original Bournemouth University (http://home.bournemouth.ac.uk/) I think it just a bit weak.

      Waterstone’s are experts in books and surely they should have retained just a hint of decent typography – which is one of the lost arts that is dying with books and the growth of e-readers and online.

      And whilst i’m at it, losing the apostrophe is just plain wrong too.

  10. I agree with you, the change of logo does seem rather pointless but, at the risk of appearing pedantic, this is not a rebrand, it is only a change of logo.

    Has there been any comment from the company to try and justify the change?

    FWIW, looking at the old logo, my question is, “Waterstone’s what?”

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