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.