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Aesthetics of Trust: The New (Old) Good Housekeeping Seal

DLB takes a look at one of the oldest American promises of product quality: The Good Housekeeping Seal. Does its new branding herald the start of a trend?

Comparison of the old and new Good Housekeeping Seals
The new seal is, in fact, the old-looking one on the bottom.

The Good Housekeeping Seal is 100 years old this year. To mark the occasion, graphic designer Louise Fili was asked to create a new design. Can you tell which one it is? In a surprising gesture, Fili rescinded the unflattering 90′s look of the previous mark and instead opted for a tasteful, classical return to form.

When it was introduced on Today, the colorful old logo was mistakenly introduced as the new one. Fili, however, felt vindicated somewhat by the mistake. “I guess that could be considered to be an insult,” she said, “but I wanted it to look like it had always been there.”

The new design arguably looks much better, but we ought to ask ourselves: what does it represent?

One could say that the struggling economy has created (or will soon create) a consumer flight to trust and product quality. Are we witnessing, then, a return to stalwart brands or images that invoke stability and a remind us of simpler, more honest times?

Good Housekeeping Seal, ca. 1908
The original, 1908 design.
Old or not, the seal is clearly an appeal to trust.

If it is trust we are seeking these days (and I think it is), is nostalgia the visual we’re looking for here? I guess, on a lizard-brain level, going back to Mayberry might make us feel safer or optimistic, but the past is just as full of unethical behavior as the present day. In fact, the old people seem to be the ones screwing us over the most these days.

I suppose such things appeal more to emotion than logic, but it opens up a fresh question I think is worth pursuing:

What makes something look trustworthy? Paul rightly says that trust is a promise kept. By what signs and symbols is a promise made?

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NickJan 6, 2009
 

Comments on this post

1.

The logo got me fooled as well as I only read the background after seeing the graphic :)

As for trustworthiness, I suspect the logo must look as if it were a stamp or a seal. The old graphic is too modern to represent heritage and age.

Dimitry Z at 11:20am on Tue, Jan 6th.

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