Noted: New Logo for American Bar Association by Finn Partners
“Lowering the Bar”
(Est. 1878) "With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society."
ABA Journal story
[ABA Executive Director Jack L. Rives] pointed to several issues with the current ABA logo, including that it’s difficult to read and does not place enough emphasis on “bar.” He said there are more than 5,000 associations in the country that begin with the word “American” and end in “association.” A user who visits ABA.com would reach the American Bankers Association, while a user visiting ABA.org would reach the American Birding Association.
The ABA worked with marketing agency Finn Partners, which Rives said went through dozens of possibilities before recommending the new logo design. It will be publicly unveiled May 1.
“It’s contemporary, it pays homage to the past while moving forward to the future, and highlighting the look is the subtle colors that are used,” he said. “This was their recommendation, and when you look at the logo that was proposed and compare it with the current logo, you will see how much more powerful the proposed logo is.”
Images (opinion after)
The old “ABA” part of the logo was pretty great, with the crossbar of the “A”s aligning with the “B” and creating a very defined top as the three letters came relatively naturally together at the apex. The wordmark underneath it could certainly have been better, not just in type choice but in sizing and arrangement. The new logo is terrible. I am 99% sure I do not need to see anything else this year to know this will be my number one choice for Worst of the Year in the Noted section. I find this offensive beyond words. No. Sorry. I take that back, I do have words: The way the “A”s connect with the “B” is ridiculous on both sides, creating horrible counterspaces between them and big blobs of typographic matter where they meet. The arrows instead of the crossbars are gratuitous, distracting, poorly placed, and plain dumb. The wordmark, in light and bold Helvetica is not just as basic as it gets but it’s been done as amateurishly as possible. They managed to make a long name look ten times longer by giving it no spaces. Looking at the other options in the video, it’s clear there was no intention whatsoever to this exercise other than trying a hundred different things a hundred different ways to see what sticks and trying to impress the client with “dozens and dozens of possibilities” instead of a few good, well thought-out options. To borrow from law speak, this was just poor counsel from start to finish.