Thursday, 22 July 2010

Disappointed with Waterstones

The only reason I am diverting from usual protocol to write about Waterstone's new branding and logo is because the store holds a special place in my heart. When the stores first appeared, I blinked at seeing one at my usual shopping venue - a proper, rich bookstore, all laid out beautifully with places to sit and read. The interior was grand - black and gold and the red carpet. It encapsulated the world of the written word beautifully (I tell it like it is because to a girl of 12, it was a gorgeous place to be, seeing as the local library was the alternative for sniffing out decent reads). Now here was a store!

Pre-2010 logo

2010 Updated Logo
Alas how that has been eroded away to be replaced by an inverted attempt at what Borders once had. I didn't not like Borders but it always felt more chaotic in there, while there was a decent sort of hush in a Waterstone's. I would like to ask why the company (HMV) thought this was necessary when the bookstore had such a powerful brand attached to its name - one could argue it held a certain antiquity but isn't the world of books supposed to have that sort of feel; that we enter into a place that holds tales and knowledge influenced by years gone by. Call me lame but it was a such a great alternative to the bland Borders brand from the USA. This was a little more...dare I say?...British. *shrug* I mean it's a sad day for the consumer really, when variety is leached from the market - we used to have the sweet and quirky Ottakar's with it's orange and green, well catered to the kids market. Alas, that too has been swallowed whole.

There's some interesting views on this. Being re-branded by HMV and all, it looks like they spent maybe a day coming up with the new logo? (from Ian Middleton, commenting on Retail Week "Great new logo chaps. You must have spent literally minutes designing it. If you look at it long enough it morphs into all sorts of unfortunate shapes.") And the tagline? 'Feel every word'. That sounds awful and distasteful. Here is one snippet I caught from a review:
While these inventive takes on the logo are certainly more dynamic, it still feels that the identity itself lacks the confidence, even austerity, of the old one. It may still be a large corporate behemoth of a chain, but at least it looked like it remembered what bookshops used to be about. <link>

Some others who have worked at Waterstone's have commented on how it would have been better if they spent their money on improving customer service so that they can compete with Amazon (which is still leaps ahead). This is true. I have yet to see a store out-do the experience, save the fact that you cannot physically hold the book. Find interesting thoughts here.

Oh and MD Dominic Myers said:
"The new look and logo reflect what a great bookshop should be – alive, inspiring, and in tune with what readers are thinking."

Yeh, I don't think so. It just leaves me feeling rather pissed. Pray tell, how it is 'alive'? It has no more form or thought than the McDonald's 'M'. I guarantee you Mr. Myers that readers are thinking 'Huh, why?'

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