Design Experts Weigh In on DDB’s and Joan’s New Visual Identities

Beauty remains firmly in the eye of the beholder

DDB's new logo (l.) and Joan's (r.) were both unveiled a week ago. DDB, Joan

DDB and Joan Creative (now just Joan) recently unveiled new visual identities for their 70th and third anniversaries, respectively.

DDB’s new logo pays homage to founders Ned Doyle, Mac Dane and Bill Bernbach, incorporating their names into the fresh visual which is essentially a revamped version of its very first one—two Ds, one yellow and one black, stacked on top of one another. Joan’s new identity, which coincides with the agency opening its new office at 44 Wall Street in late 2018, drops the “Creative” in its name and reimagines the lowercase, rounded typeface logo as an “impactful, edgier, uppercase word mark” with the “J” designed to represent Joan of Arc’s sword, CEO Lisa Clunie recently told Adweek.

We asked design experts in the industry to weigh in on both: like, love or just OK?

These are their unapologetically blunt takes:

Caley Cantrell, professor and strategy chair at VCU Brandcenter

DDB: It was OK. “It is a nice refresh for a storied agency brand. Whether it is needed from a business standpoint I can’t be sure. But from an internal branding standpoint it might bring with it energy and enthusiasm.”

Joan: Liked it. “This rebrand feels strategically smart. After three years, Joan can comfortably drop the ‘Creative’ part of the name. They’ve earned the ‘it goes without saying’ attitude. And I think it offers versatility to be able to directly pair new elements/business units of their offering directly to Joan.”

Carol Chu, creative director at Beacon Press

DDB: Loved it. “It’s a clever use of negative space and I’ve always enjoyed a classic reboots of sorts—like the logos of yore.”

Joan: It was OK. “It becomes so tiring to see chopped type as a logo. You slice off a serif or you crop off some stem. It doesn’t feel particularly fresh and it’s already somewhat dated.”

Joan's old logo

Chris Do, president and founder of The Futur

DDB: Liked it. “I think the rebrand is clever, bold and appropriate. It has a slightly nostalgic vibe to it but I think this was intentional to also reference the founders. I can see the mark being used in many ways where the previous mark couldn’t. It can be used as a graphic container, bug and repeating pattern.”

Joan: Didn’t like it. “I think there is something much more interesting about the simplicity to the original mark. It feels modern, quirky, friendly, personal, unpretentious. The new word mark feels over-designed and trying too hard to be symbolic.”

Kristen Cavallo, The Martin Agency CEO

DDB: Liked it. “It is simple, rational and clean. It ties to their heritage and founders, which is a strength when your founders include giants like Bernbach.”

Joan: Loved it. “It’s more than a name or a font—it is a story. A sword and a heroine, a warrior with a cause. It says everything you need to know about the agency.”

Richard Pels, freelance creative director and copywriter and teacher at School of Visual Arts/City Tech

DDB: Loved it. “If persuasion begins with your logo, your visual handshake, this one is delightfully ironic. They’ve returned to a version of Doyle’s original logo that now has a good chance of lasting to their 100th anniversary, fulfilling Bernbach’s prophecy. Michael Bierut talks about a logo being an empty vessel you pour meaning into. This particular vessel comes already full to the brim, paying homage to the smartest group of people ever brought together in one advertising agency. In fact, it’s a lot to live up to. I’m all in.”

Joan: Liked it. “It’s not entirely fair to ask this after discussing DDB’s historical reboot, but I do like it. The hand-drawn logo brings an artisanal quality to the place, and reflects the image of some of their clients who have throwback type or hand-rendered versions of their logos.”

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.