• Nov 23, 2010
GM's Renaissance Center headquarters shortly before the new sign was unveiled

The familiar blue-block General Motors logo that has adorned the automaker's headquarters, ads and websites for many years is down from the building, but not all the way out of existence.

GM dropped the old familiar logo from its Renaissance Center headquarters on November 18, ushering in a new era with its initial public offering of stock. The sign was replaced with a 625-foot LED electronic board that will show logos from the company's past. The sign was switched on as GM's stock began trading again on the New York Stock Exchange.

New GM logo on headquartersThe two-story blue-block GM log has also been stricken from the GM.com website. It does still live, however, on GM's media website, and on an internal GM site. GM spokesperson Pat Morrissey says that the ol' familiar blue-block GM logo that brought the automaker through the Jack Smith and Rick Wagoner eras, and through Pontiac Azteks and Saab 9-7Xs, will not disappear from GM's typographic life. "[Chief marketing officer] Joel Ewanick thought the building and website needed fresh looks, but we will not be getting rid of the familiar logo all together," says Morrissey.

GM has long been ambivalent about its corporate logo and brand. In 2009, the year GM went into bankruptcy, it dropped the GM logo from its vehicles. And it has steadily moved away from advertising GM as a brand on TV, radio and print. The irony, though, is that it did not change the trading ticker symbol from the old company. The company trades as GM on the NYSE. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, however, GM gave up the ticker symbol when it de-listed from the TSE in 2007. Now, it wants it back from Geo Minerals Ltd., which took the symbol, and is offering to buy it back from the mining company.

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There is a lot of recent history with regard to automaker logos and their buildings in Detroit. When Jacques Nasser took over at Ford in 1999, he took the Ford blue oval logo off the Dearborn headquarters building, and replaced it with the Ford Motor Co. script "trust-mark." That was to symbolize the fact that Ford was a diversified company, including European luxury brands, as well as the other businesses Nasser set about buying. Later, when William Clay Ford Jr. took over as CEO and wanted to refocus employees and the world on the idea that the Ford brand was the core of the company, he dropped the trust-mark and re-installed the Ford blue oval.

"This is historically one of those measures to try and change mood, like giving the front-porch a new coat of paint and hanging a wreath," says independent marketing consultant Dennis Keene, who advises companies on corporate image. "It is a good idea to do when you are making sweeping changes to a company and culture, which GM certainly has been doing." It is, however, a bit unusual for a company to employ several different graphic renditions of a corporate logo. "It's a signature for a company and a brand," says Keene. "I don't think it's a good idea to have so many different ones floating around... it looks like you can't make up your mind."

[Images: Paul Sancya/AP, Fabrizio Constantini/New York Times]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      "On the Toronto Stock Exchange, however, GM gave up the ticker symbol when it de-listed from the TSE in 2007. Now, it wants it back from Geo Minerals Ltd., which took the symbol"

      That is funny, because you refer to the Toronto Stock Exchange as the TSE, since they have been TSX since 2001. (TSE is the Tokyo Stock Exchange).
      • 4 Years Ago
      I saw them chage this awhile ago I thought it was something dealing with the company slowly and quietly moving out of detroit. I also noticed that during the show detroit 187 that the GM logo was blacked out. I thought it was because of the whole no free advertising rule with ABC. This sign will not last more than a year or two and then have to be replaced because it will stop working.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The sign was replaced with a 625-foot LED electronic board [...]"

      I think you mean 625 "square" feet. There is no way in hell that board is 625 feet tall nor wide. 2 stories on a building like this is typically 20 feet. so 625 square feet makes more sense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Man, 625 feet sure isn't what it used to be...
      (seriously, I doubt that's even 62.5 feet)
        • 4 Years Ago
        In the article it says, "When the stock started trading, the lights on the 625-square-foot LED replacement were switched on."

        Somebody (Autoblog?) lost the "square" part...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, I'm guessing it's measured diagonally like TVs. It still looks sorta small for 625 feet, though.
      Monkeycheez52
      • 4 Years Ago
      Old Logo, New Logo...it just don't matter, the car still just won't go.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Christ, seriously? that same odd aqua blue glow as their dash and center stacks? Here I'd hoped the "new" GM would move past that in their cars, guess not if it's a part of the logo now .
        • 4 Years Ago
        My G8 is all red...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice way to continue wasting money.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The sign measures 25' x 25'
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dumb.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dumb.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they don't repeat Gap's mistake:

      http://www.craplogo.me/logos/GM._logo.png
      • 4 Years Ago
      So their new logo is their old logo?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Read the article:

        "The sign was replaced with a 625-foot LED electronic board that will show logos from the company's past."
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