DC Entertainment Reveals Its New Identity

DC Entertainment serves up a sneak peak at the next step in its evolution as a multimedia entertainment company, with a new brand and interactive logo that celebrate its long history of secret identities, superpowers, and storytelling.

And now for the reveal.

If there is a common thread through most DC characters, it’s the concept of secret identities—Superman as Clark Kent, Batman as Bruce Wayne, Green Lantern as Hal Jordan. And no one knows who’s under the "V" mask.

DC Entertainment plays on that theme with its modernized, digital-friendly logo and brand campaign, which it unveils today and will begin appearing in March. The new overarching concept embraces the DC Entertainment corporate identity—which comprises publishing, media, and merchandise. That includes the three publishing imprints—DC Comics (superheroes), Vertigo (edgier fare), and Mad Magazine (humor)—plus movies, TV shows, video games, DVDs, and merchandising, most of which are distributed by Warner Bros. Thematically, the new look and feel imparts a sense of great storytelling, appeals to all ages, and is flexible across media, digital platforms, and characters.

"It wasn’t as obvious to the rest of the world as it was to the comic fans that Batman is from DC Comics or Sandman is a Vertigo character," says John Rood, DC Entertainment’s executive vice president of sales, marketing, and business development. "Now that our audience has exploded beyond just a readership, we needed a way of making a more consistent connection between our properties and their parent brands."

The brand ID is most whimsical in its malleability—particularly the logo’s animated ability to mold to the properties, characters, and media, especially in the digital space, where it becomes interactive.

"We didn’t want a static logo, but a living identity that could capture the power of our characters and storytelling," says Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. "What is special about DC content is the notion of a dual identity. When you think about our DC Comics superheroes, there’s a secret identity. When you think about Vertigo, it’s this notion of good vs. evil in many of the stories. And so, in addition to flexibility, the new logo communicates this idea of dual identity: There’s more than meets the eye. You have to take a closer look to understand the richness of our characters and stories."

Hence, the reveal aspect of the corporate mark.

The "DC" logo reads as a "D"-shaped page that pulls back to reveal a "C" that could either be an obvious letter or infused with elements of a property or character. Digital devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, touch-screen displays, gaming consoles) will enable users to peel back the "D" to expose a character, image, or story. The "C" can be customized to the colors and qualities of the property it’s promoting: silver and gray for the corporation, blue for DC Comics, or—as suggested by the graphic below—sparks for The Flash, green for Green Lantern, or a mist for Batman. All are unified by a common font—the serendipitously named Gotham Bold.

The logo’s adaptability will facilitate a fresh and innovative way to reflect ongoing corporate and creative initiatives. "The peel element can tie back to the storytelling content or character we’re showcasing, and leverage those colors," says Desai. "The 'C’ can be a vessel to showcase stories and character. It’s unexpected, requires a little thnking and some storytelling behind that mark."

The new branding effort—spearheaded by Rood and Desai, in partnership with global branding consultants Landor Associates, and nearly a year in the making—continues the DC Entertainment revamp that began two years ago with the appointment of president Diane Nelson to put together the company, and continued with the hiring of co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, and chief creative officer Geoff Johns, Rood and Desai, as well as the launch of last September’s successful The New 52 campaign that revised DC’s 52 comic book titles with new number one stories, redesigned costumes, and same-day digital publishing. Rood and Desai spent most of last year talking to the various DC and Warner Bros. divisions, and conducting focus groups of fans and specific demographics. "This was the top performing concept across all consumer segments," says Desai.

The company will implement the new identity and logo in phases, with comic readers seeing it on books and graphic novels in March. In addition, Desai is building a new website that will showcase all DC properties, not just publishing, as it does now, and take full advantage of the logo’s interactive capabilities. Throughout the year, it will begin appearing on consumer and home entertainment products, TV and film graphics, games, and packaging.

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13 Comments

  • F. Paul Russell III

    As a lifetime comic book nerd with design skills, I often cringe at the corporate identity of the major comic book publishers, as well as the most of the actual comic book title designs as well. Overdone, overwrought, and horrible lettering design. So glad to see this complete rethink on the DC logo. The older DC Comics logo was only about 5 or 6 years old, but immediately looked dated to my eyes as soon as it came out. The "swoosh" style logo aesthetic has always reminded me of something that should be on packaged goods; on a detergent box, or a window cleaner bottle. The new logo is simple and compact, and I especially like the way they are going to be utilized on the comic books themselves... as a bleed off the left binding. My only question now is whether or not this new look will "out-cool" their VERTIGO logo imprint. Really nice work.

  • Rye

    I dig it. Big upgrade from all previous DC logos. I think they need to quit the rebranding every few years, however. 
    This is great seeing all these critical comic book nerds lashing out at a better design! Talk is cheap - it's always easier to criticize than to actually execute the thought and goal of the creative. Previous logos: http://goo.gl/1LTk3 

  • Michael Durwin

    Umm, MTV did this already: a rough logo shape then lot's of variations.
    Perhaps they should focus on new digital delivery systems and better stories than a rebranding. It didn't help GAP, Tropicana, Pepsi and it isn't helping Mitt Romney.

  • BenjaminSantiago

    This is terrible.
    They should just redesign a pre-blue cosmic swoosh era logo...It seems like they forgot that when you read a comic book, the super hero is already on the cover...A logo for a comic book company does not need to be malleable in this way...It should be an icon buried in your subconscious reminding you of the years of quality storytelling/mythology and great artwork that lay inside. I wrote a way more enraged and cynical version of this post but accidentally closed the window...I learned to draw from comic books. It is a maybe a bit embarrassing if you know his work but the first comics I copied were from Joe Madureira's run on X-Men...they are in horrible condition because I used to look at them again and again and again and copy the drawings inside...The marvel logo at the time was just the M and that to me was a mark of the quality lay inside. I don't bring up Marvel to be polemicizing about comic book companies...I bring it up because PEOPLE DON'T READ COMICS FOR LOGOS, OR TO FLICK THINGS AND SEE HAL JORDAN...THEY READ COMICS FOR COMICS...

    In general though, I think the mainstream comics industry needs to get some for real graphic designers to create their branding...I've seen so many horrible horrible, almost I finished it the night before freshman type I homework kind of feel. I know for a fact there are many designers who are into comics. 

  • Aaron Pedersen

    I appreciate the thinking behind the loge and love thoughts on secret identity, but the execution falls so short. There is a generic corporate feel to it that fails to illustrate the content is represents. The type underneath seems to be an afterthought and the tight closure of the main "C" is awkward.

    I just wish it had a stronger point of view, considering how lively and imaginative the comics are. It definitely feels designed by committee. 

  • Collected Editions

    DC has seemed to struggle of late to conform its logo to its new comics line "genres," like Dark (Animal Man, Swamp Thing) and Edge (Stormwatch, Grifter), with the logo on the various covers indistinguishable except for a texture or color.  This is the first time most fans will have seen the new logo with two-tones or with identifying modifications to the underlying "C" -- with that, on DC's part, I think this will begin to make more sense. 

    It's also heartening that DC's logo *is* a comic book now -- before it's mainly been stylized letters, but now the logo is also the message.

  • Tom Rose

    The context behind the logo's design makes all the difference.  I like it. Not like the internet has ever over-reacted before...

  • 100.1 Santo Domingo

    I have to admit that now they've shown the logo will have different versions depending on the property it's pretty clever looking.

    But they were already doing that with the whirl logo, at least since the New 52 started. Each comic had a different version of the logo reflecting the property it was used on.

    I still think that as a logo it kinda fails on the purpose of telling me this is a company named "DC".

    I also love how they already have a Watchmen version of the logo. We better get ready to the WATCHMEN 2 media barrage that is coming XD