MGM’s ‘Leo the Lion’ Gets a CGI Makeover in Updated Logo

The new logo leans into the company's nearly 97-year history

This marks the first update to the logo since 2012.MGM Studios

As brands continue to simplify their logos—some to the point of dry uniformity—classic film studios like Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) are resisting that urge altogether. Today, as MGM unveils a brand-new logo, the studio is showing its commitment to the timeless, golden art deco design that has defined the brand since 1924.

Top line

MGM Studios‘ revamped logo represents its first update since 2012.

Well-known for franchises like James Bond, The Handmaid’s Tale, Rocky and The Voice, MGM Studios in Beverly Hills was originally founded in the era of silent films. Despite Hollywood’s changes throughout the last century, MGM Studios has stuck to its branding roots by always featuring Leo, its lion mascot, and the Latin tagline “Ars Gratia Artis,” or “Art for Art’s Sake.”

This is the first time that Leo the Lion has been reimagined in more than six decades (this time with CGI, rather than a new feline model). The latest rendition leans into the company’s traditional gold design, filtering out sepia tones and modernizing the logo by sharpening the film roll, mask and lettering. MGM worked with Culver City, Calif.-based Baked Studios on the new look.

“It’s an evolution, not a revolution,” Stephen Bruno, chief marketing officer for MGM, told Adweek.

While Bruno admitted that updating a logo with nearly 100 years of history was “a little bit scary,” the flip side turned out to be that “everything that we needed to evolve it and make it feel modern was already embedded within the logo or within the brand.”

The biggest change is evident in the brand’s new monogram, which uses the classic font of the MGM logo rather than the blocky lettering associated with MGM Resorts, the Las Vegas-based casino company that initially fell under the same umbrella, but was spun off in 1980.

Between the lines

The new logo was slated to launch with the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die. While initially set to release in November 2019, Daniel Craig’s fifth performance as Bond was pushed back several times even before the pandemic, and now won’t be released until this fall.

As a result, the new MGM logo is emerging with little fanfare—the first movies it’ll appear in are the Channing Tatum-directed comedy Dog and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, coming in July and August, respectively.

Bottom line

“We wanted to modernize the logo, but we also wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose what made the logo so recognizable and also so special for the past [nearly] 97 years,” said Val Aveni, MGM vp of social media and brand strategy.

Rather than tearing it down and starting anew, “we focused on modernizing key elements such as Leo, adding the ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ translation … and even updating the monogram, which we pulled directly from the wordmark in the logo.”

Recommended articles