Premiering in 1992, Men’s Journal Magazine has experienced numerous rebrand efforts. This is the first one that is a complete overhaul and a complete eye catcher when compared to the magazines other efforts. The new logo, taking inspiration from European auto-racing posters, is a bold, but inspiring new approach to the logo. From the Press Release…
Though we’ve tweaked the logo many times since the magazine premiered in 1992, this is the first time we’ve overhauled it. And we think it better reflects Men’s Journal today. Creative director Benjamen Purvis, together with legendary type designer Jim Parkinson, who drew the new logo, took their inspiration from 1930s European auto-racing posters — rugged, elegant, unadorned. “It’s handcrafted, masculine, and authoritative,” Purvis says. “I think it perfectly expresses the spirit of our magazine.”
SPD recently caught up with Benjamen Purvis and had the opportunity to ask about the making of the new Men’s Journal logo. Here’s what he had to say…
MJ’s logo has been tweaked many times in the past 20 years, but it never strayed from an upper and lower case serif format. In October of 2011, we decided to again change the logo, to better express the spirit of the magazine today. But I didn’t want us to design in a vacuum, so I rounded up the logos of all the magazines that typically show up next to ours on newsstands. I presented Men’s Journal’s upper and lower case logo next to the upper and lower case logos of Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness to persuade my bosses to completely overhaul the logo and go with an all upper case sans-serif look.
Back when I was being interviewed for this job, I told Jason that I thought MJ’s design should evoke the spirit of European auto race posters from the 1930s and ’40s. The ones I had in mind are disciplined yet bold, clean but masculine, and they have a timeless cool to them. I began assembling a collection of jpegs of these posters after I got the job, and I turned to these images for inspiration for the look of the new logo. I knew we’d have to go with condensed characters in order to keep the logo roughly the same height on the cover, and I liked the idea of sturdy, monoline shapes. So I edited the collection down to four different posters that employed that kind of typography, and sent them off to legendary designer Jim Parkinson to begin the redesign process.
Jim and I went back and forth on the look of each character, and Rolling Stone design director Joe Hutchinson weighed in on each draft with an impartial eye. An early draft was perceived as too masculine by some of my coworkers — one of whom remarked that the logo was looking “very Cold War.” I surmised that the blocky lettering felt militant and imposing, so I asked Jim to change the shape of the S, the R and the A, and to slightly round some of the corners throughout. In the end we got something that looks masculine and authoritative and modern, and it wouldn’t feel at all out of place on one of the 80-year-old posters we referenced.
I believe this move was a risky decision considering the logo before was very iconic and this one strays very far from that original design. There’s a 20-year audience that has become attached to this logo looking a certain way. However, I think they pulled it off, removing the drop shadow and making the lettering louder and bolder seems to be a good branding decision to bring in the next 20 years for the Men’s brand. It’s classier, cleaner and screams modern compared to the previous redesigns. It’s really nice to see something completely new, I can’t imagine if they did something like bring back the drooping J from the 1996-2004 logo. We can also thank Jim Parkinson for that one as well.