SILVER SPRING - The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has announced the first change to the denomination’s corporate identity in over two decades. General Conference Communications Director Williams Costa, Jr. circulated an image of proposed changes to the Seventh-day Adventist logo graphic at the 2016 Spring Meeting of the GC Executive Committee.
Costa said changes to the logo, characterized as being relatively small, will be voted during the General Conference’s 2016 Annual Council this October. The current Seventh-day Adventist corporate identity, a registered trademark of the The General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists®, was officially adopted at the 1996 Autumn Council (now Annual Council) of the General Conference Executive Committee.
The current Seventh-day Adventist logo on the left, proposed changes on the right.
The logo in its present form is the work of Adventist designer Bryan Gray, who serves as Creative Director for the Adventist Review.
When the denomination’s corporate identity was unveiled to the public in early 1997, GC Communications Director Rajmund Dabrowski said,
This new corporate identity for the Seventh-day Adventist Church reflects our deep and abiding belief in Jesus Christ as the center of our lives and our faith. My prayer is that this graphic representation of who we are will be used all around the world as a familiar symbol of our Church and its values.”
The logo includes elements that depict values and beliefs central to the Adventist faith:
The lines at the top of the design suggest upward momentum symbolizing the resurrection and ascension to heaven at Christ's second coming, the ultimate focus of our faith. The shape formed by three lines encircling an implied sphere represent the three angels of Revelation 14 circling the globe and our commission to take the gospel to the entire world. The overall shape forms a flame symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The symbol of the cross, representing the gospel of salvation, is positioned in the center of the design to emphasize Christ's sacrifice, which is the central theme of the Adventist faith. The Bible forms the base of the design and represents the biblical foundation of our beliefs. It is portrayed in a fully open position suggesting a full acceptance of God's word. It is our hope and prayer that though this logo is a very simple picture of the foundation of Adventist beliefs and values it may be a recognizable symbol of the Adventist message to the world.
The proposed modifications reflect a corporate zeitgeist that favors informal, made-for-web logo design. A sans-serif font replaces the current all-caps, serif font. Many contemporary brand overhauls have gone this route, favoring less formal modern fonts over classic typefaces.
In 2008, Pepsi paid Arnell Group many millions of dollars to redesign the cola company's corporate identity. Arnell described the change as "breathtaking." The public was far more critical.
The addition of a rounded square behind the Adventist logo calls to mind app icons ubiquitous on mobile devices and computers.
Abandoning the all-caps typeface provides a pragmatic solution to a frequent problem. “Seventh-day Adventist” is often incorrectly written “Seventh Day Adventist” in media reports and discussions outside of the denomination (occasionally within the denomination as well). The use of upper and lower-case lettering makes clear the correct capitalization of the name.
The current version of the logo bears a passing resemblance to the way the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) configures its name.
Note the similarities in typeface and layout of the wording. While there is nothing to suggest the similarities have had any bearing on the redesign, Adventists and Mormons, both young, American-born denominations, are occasionally confused for one another. Adventists seek to distinguish themselves and their unique understandings, and the proposed corporate makeover would provide another opportunity to set themselves apart.
When unveiling modifications to the logo at the Spring Meeting, Costa gave no indication that public input had been sought (we later learned that the update had input from Bryan Gray, the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists—which already has incorporated a new typeface for the words “Seventh-day Adventist” in its official publications—and designer Clayton Kinney of 316 Creative).
Initial social-media sharing of the logo’s redesign drew uniformly unfavorable reactions. Both on Spectrum’s Facebook page and on the Adventist News Twitterfeed, Adventists voiced dismay. Critics of the new look particularly took exception to the addition of the “box” surrounding the logo. “I don't like the ‘black box’ or any kind of box!” said one commenter. “It's blocky. It has lost the grace of the original logo,” said another. “The ‘new’ logo will require a whole lot more ink to print because of the black background,” suggested someone else.
Others suggested the cross should be made more prominent, and some disliked the font choice.
One commenter compared the redesign to a disastrous attempt by clothing company Gap to recreate its logo.
After overwhelming public outcry and derision, Gap scrapped the changes and reverted to its classic logo design.
If anything, the comments may point to a resistance to change when it comes to such a strong symbol of the Adventist faith. Clearly, feelings concerning Adventism’s corporate identity run deep.
It remains to be seen what additional changes may be made in advance of Annual Council, when members of the General Conference Executive Committee are slated to finalize the (slight) branding changes.
For more on the Adventist Corporate Identity and usage guidelines, see the Global Identity Standards Manual.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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