Goodbye JCPenney (logo)

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    One of the most recognizable wordmarks of the 20th century is going away soon in a bid to attract younger shoppers. Retail giant JCPenney is rolling out a new logo in an attempt to rebrand themselves as a modern retailer.

    The logo pictured above was designed by Massimo Vignelli and Jay Doblin's company Unimark and first appeared in late 1971. It was an attempt to craft a more contemporary, upmarket image for Penney stores, and also an homage to company founder James Cash Penney, who died shortly after the initial roll-out of the logo. The JCPenney logo was part of a comprehensive corporate identity program that in 1974 won an IDSA Special Award for the Advancement of Design.

    According to poster Bill B, at Brand New:

    "the 'simple' Helvetica logotype was really the visual expression of a new philosophy that (Jay) Doblin had brought to the company. It had been called Penney’s, and Doblin rightly thought that implied cheap. He respected the founders' ideas and wanted to restore the name of the person who started the company to prominence. The logo would be the founders' 'signature' on everything the company did. and therefore it was not to be showy. It was a simple face and used discreetly — usually on the bottom and not big. There was not just one signature. Helvetica bold, medium, regular and light could be used depending on the situation. Regular was used most often and for signs, but light was used often for women’s apparel and bold was used in hardware. The identity system was meant to be the expression of a philosophy of doing business, and Jay was a fervent believer that design could accomplish such things."

    Though it took almost 15 years to do so, the JCPenney logo eventually replaced a circa-1963 logo, affectionately known as Funky P, on all company materials and stores. For the last ten years, the logo has been featured in a red square.

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    1. [jonrev] 49 months ago | reply

      Woodfield Mall; Schaumburg, IL.

    2. Joe Architect 49 months ago | reply

      It's not that bad, really. Typical suburban mall.

    3. Jim Huber Photography 49 months ago | reply

      I had a thought that maybe the switch to an all lower case font with their logo could be a response to Sears going with an all lower case logo.

    4. oakpark71rocks [deleted] 49 months ago | reply

      Woodfield is more than a typical suburban mall! It's the largest Chicagoland suburban mall, and it is HUGE!! For a several years, it was the largest mall in the nation!

    5. [jonrev] 49 months ago | reply

      I've also noticed all-lower case seems to be the recent trend... Pepsi comes to mind as well.

    6. Joe Architect 49 months ago | reply

      I doubt it. JCPenney and Sears haven't been direct competitors in years.
      Woodfield is a special place. One of these days I'm going there.
      All these new logos look like Pepsi for some reason.

    7. Retail Oddities 48 months ago | reply

      You'd like Woodfield, Steven. I spent my childhood around that mall, and it was pretty cool. It has the largest Sears in the US!

    8. Joe Architect 48 months ago | reply

      Sounds like my kind of place. :-)

    9. oakpark71rocks [deleted] 48 months ago | reply

      @bigcheese1150, I think you mean the largest Sears in the Mainland US, for the largest Sears of all is at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.

    10. Joe Architect 48 months ago | reply

      I didn't know that!

    11. oakpark71rocks [deleted] 48 months ago | reply

      The largest JCPenney store of all is in San Juan, Puerto Rico at Plaza Las Americas. It has four floors and carries Lancome, Estee Lauder, and Clinique cosmentics.

    12. army.arch 48 months ago | reply

      Sears Ala Moana has 341,199 sq ft.
      Woodfield has 416,000 sq ft.
      But the largest Sears in the Americas is in Toronto at Eaton Center with 817,850 sq ft.

    13. oakpark71rocks [deleted] 48 months ago | reply

      Thanks for that comparison army.arch! The Toronto store was the flagship Eaton's department store, the namesake for this and several other Eaton Centres in Canada. BTW, it's spelled "centre" in Canada.

    14. Joe Architect 48 months ago | reply

      I've seen pictures of the San Juan JCPenney. it doesn't look or feel much like Penney's here. Much more upmarket.
      So Woodfield is the largest in the US, and Eaton Centre is the largest overall? Ok. I figured somebody would know.
      I really hoped the "eaton's" that Sears tried would have taken off. It looked like a great concept.

    15. [jonrev] 37 months ago | reply

      And with this, I declare squares are the new "swish".

    16. Joe Architect 37 months ago | reply

      Maybe JCPenney's two-square adaptation means the trend has peaked.

    17. cooldude166861 33 months ago | reply

      I'm not sure how my local JCPenney will look when/if it gets this new logo. It is 1994-96 vintage in design, because it was remodeled/ refaced following the 1994 fire at the 1967 mall.

      The current look:

      In 1970:

    18. Joe Architect 33 months ago | reply

      That's a major change. I could see it working better on the old facade than the current one.

    19. [jonrev] 17 months ago | reply

      I think you called it, kind of... Penney's just aborted the last few years worth of logo changes - reverting back to its plain Helvetica typeface with no box or anything at all. I like it... it's not the funky-P, but it's nice to see again. Too bad the company is still sinking fast.

    20. Joe Architect 17 months ago | reply

      Maybe the logo change will help.

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