an announcement on the APA website and an accompanying Youtube video. Here's an alternative version of the new logo:
Now, I'm not an APA member, but as a psychiatrist, this is just embarrassing. Poor Benjamin Rush must be rolling over in his grave! I'm also not a "branding expert," but it seems that the APA could use all the help it can get these days. Thus, I'm offering some pro bono advice as a public service.
TypefaceFirst off, the text becomes very fashion-forward with the use of a skinny font (resembles Avenir, but I'm not sure exactly what it is) for "American" and "Association." The semi-bold and colored emphasis on the word "Psychiatric" just seems a bit…desperate. Look at us, we're psychiatrists! I'm not saying that the typeface doesn't look nice, but it smacks of trying too hard to match the latest trends in visual marketing:
Now, Apple can do with this because they actually are producing new high-tech products. But the APA? Sorry, I don't think Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5 qualifies. Why not make something that looks timeless and classy, rather than trendy and fashionable? Here's my suggestion:
This has the added benefit of allowing the letters "APA" to line up, emphasizing to the world that the fight over what "APA" stands for is not over, even though the American Psychological Association owns apa.org and the Google search results. We psychiatrists don't give up!
LogoThough I discussed the choice of typeface first, the new logo emphasizing the brain is the most jarring aspect of the APA brand refresh. Here were my initial thoughts:
A couple of days later, I still feel the same way. If you're trying so hard to signal that the organization is modern and future-looking, then why in the world use such a literal outline of a brain? The whole point of logos is to make a simplified visual representation of something so it becomes an instantly recognizable icon. That's why Apple's logo doesn't look like an actual silhouette of an apple, and the Microsoft Windows logo doesn't look like a photorealistic window. It's also why the serpent on the Rod of Asclepius winding its way through the brain (wisely) does not show snake scales. Also, note what happens to the APA's brain when it's shrunk:New @APAPsychiatric logo looks like a fuzzy egg from the distance. Hope they didn't pay too much for it! #APAAM15 https://t.co/hJVNDWpGJ4— Psycritic (@psycrit) May 17, 2015
Look how fuzzy the brain becomes, while the Rod of Asclepius retains its shape nicely. So, APA, if you're going to use a brain with folds, then at least make them look somewhat rounded:
Even though it's a bit cartoony and not anatomically accurate, it's at least visually cogent, especially at smaller sizes. Alternatively, you can get even more minimalistic:
These changes took me all of 20 minutes in Photoshop, and I'm no graphic artist. I wonder how much the APA paid their consultants for all this?
TaglineFinally, that tagline: "Medical leadership for mind, brain and body." While I won't argue too much over the missing Oxford comma, I do think: wouldn't it be nice if the tagline matched the typeface and the logo? The typeface signals future-think, while the logo features a traditional symbol of medicine within the brain. I don't see anything conveying "mind" or "body." Since I believe honesty is the best policy when it comes to branding, why not this:
Or even better, if the focus in going to be on medical brain disorders, why not a complete rebrand of the APA into something even awesomer?
There, that's more like it!