Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

That Personal Touch

In late May, News Corp. released a new logo, seen above, to herald the split of the company into two parts: News Corp. (newspapers and publishing) and 21st Century Fox (entertainment). The logo release was something more than that too: described as being derived from the handwriting of News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch and his father Keith, the logo seemed to indicate a return to family control, and that Rupert was to be literally hands-on as the corporation shook off its scandal. In the Guardian, Creative Review’s Mark Sinclair noted, “In the era of digital text, handwritten lettering can appear honest, candid even.” Note the can because this artless logo immediately seemed like something else. First, the handwriting of two people cannot be candid. It’s been manipulated, apparently to create a better press release narrative. If you don’t like Rupert, remember his father. It’s also undistinguished. That initial N could never stand as a part for the whole logo, as anyone could write it. And the blobby ends of the N and P suggest Sharpie origins, the bleeding when you let the pen linger too long on your packing box. The black and white looks cheap, which may also have been the point, after a 20th century of geometric symbols and shiny gradients. Scripts are supposed to signal nostalgia, personal connection, with-love-from-me-to-you. But when anyone can make their handwriting into a font, has script lost its meaning?