One of the most talked about rebrandings in Trinidad has just occurred. Neal and Massy has rebranded themselves as Massy, and with it, all of their subsidiary companies. The logo is described as such on the new Massy website– "The Massy logo is simple, bold and modern and represents the mutuality of our Group of companies, with a stylized infinity symbol that retains the N and M of our previous corporate identity. The visibility of both letters in the logo design is a deliberate reference to the heritage of founders Harry Neal and Charles Massy."
From the first time I saw the new logo, it struck me as being an overdone concept, and I wasn't sure if I had seen it before. Everyday I peruse websites such as logopond, dribbble, and behance to look at logos and I just felt that the new Massy logo looked like an idea that I had seen before. And then, I received a message on facebook with a link to a logo that looked eerily similar.
There are of course many similarities between this logo and the new Massy logo. The logomark is almost the same shape, similar colours are used, and the logotype seems to be written in the same font.
The fact that Massy now has what seems to be an unoriginal logo of course isn't their fault, and the onus should be on the design firm hired by them. The agency/designer should've gone to all lengths to ensure the originality of their work. Below is a transparency of the two logos to show the similarity.
There are also other brand components that are similar. For instance the Massy card is very similar to the envelope of the Museum.
Despite the seemingly unoriginal design, the new logo for Massy is definitely an improvement on the old "NM" logo, however, one must feel that they would not be completely satisfied with what is a very uninspired final product. Also the use of a font very similar to Helvetica for the word "MASSY" comes off as a bit boring. All in all though, the logo is an improvement and the colour choice stands out well when put to use, and from what I have seen on their website, press ads, and signage, everything is working cohesively.
Logo and brand identity aside, the thing that seems to be upsetting people the most is the fact that Massy has decided to change the names of all their subsidiary companies. There will now be Massy Motors, Massy Energy, Massy Pres-T-Con, Massy Technologies, Massy Communications, just to name a few. Perhaps the biggest change for most people would be the renaming of Hi Lo food stores to Massy Stores Supermarket. Hi Lo has been around since the 1950s and has a very strong brand reputation; Trinis all over the world could sympathize with me in admitting that any plastic bag regardless of their origins, is a "Hi Lo bag."
Hi Lo is one of the most recognizable brands in Trinidad and the change to Massy Stores feels a bit "corporate." The nation's favourite food store, in appearances, has become just another company under the umbrella of Neal & Massy, and it certainly loses its personality and brand heritage. Sure, the old Hi Lo logo could have used a face lift, but to completely change a name that is so ingrained into the culture is certainly a bold move that would upset a lot of consumers.
One could argue that in order for the branding to be withheld throughout all of the companies, perhaps it was a necessary move, however they could have maintained the Hi Lo name and included "A Massy Company" or something to that effect under the logo, or somewhere else on their media. It certainly seems that Trinidad has lost a small part of our brand culture, and the next time you are looking for a plastic bag, maybe try asking for a "Massy bag" and see what happens.
**UPDATE** The intention of this article was not to insinuate that any sort of plagiarism has occurred with regards to the Massy logo. The choice to show the Museum logo was to make the point that the Massy logo was not an original idea/concept, and that the logo could be pushed further. As a designer I know that we create things that, of no fault to ourselves, might appear to be very similar to other works that have been previously created. Does a similarity mean plagiarism? Absolutely not! It just means that as a designer, we should push our ideas and concepts further.
Nicholas Huggins is a graphic designer. See his work here.