Following the acquisition of the telecoms business of San Miguel Corporation, two of the Philippines’ telco giants recently launched their new logos symbolizing the convergence of PLDT and Smart, combining fixed and wireless technologies to serve both individual and enterprise subscribers. The new logo also comes with a change in name from Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company to PLDT Inc.
“Rather than allow ourselves to be disrupted by new technologies, we are disrupting ourselves. We have embarked on a digital pivot to enable us to serve the increasing needs of our people’s digital lifestyle and the country’s growing digital economy.”
Manny V. Pangilinan, Chairman & CEO, PLDT-Smart
From the press release, “the new PLDT and Smart logo is shaped like a triangle with the three sides representing the Company’s business pillars – exceptional people, meaningful innovations, and our valuable customers. The triangle is also the symbol for Delta, the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, which stands for change. Taken together, these three pillars create tremendous energy that will enable our customers to achieve their limitless potential. The triangle’s three sides support each other. Thus, an inherent strength flows harmoniously among the sides to sustain the structure.”
I’d like to take an emphasis on the triangle, the delta, and the concept of change in the next paragraphs. But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
The old PLDT logo is in itself a very powerful symbol. Even without the text, you could distinguish the iconic 33-year-old abstract figure of a telephone receiver when you see it in concrete pavements, manhole covers, sidewalk posts, telephone handsets, or multimedia ads.
Fast forward to the new logo on the right: the press release stated that, aside from the triangle and its three business pillars, the logo also represents delta, meaning change. The first time I saw the new logo, I immediately went for the Möbius strip, or the Penrose triangle. I know it sounds complicated (I’m such a nerd!) but the choice and the placement of the colors in the triangle implies folded edges similar to the Möbius or the Penrose.
The Penrose triangle was popularized in the 50’s by a psychologist and a mathematician as an impossible object. Mathematically speaking, no 3-dimensional object in Euclidean space can represent it but only 2-dimensional depictions.
I’d like to think about the concept of “the impossible object” and apply it not only to the logo change but also with the direction of the industry. I don’t want to sound short of hope but the country belongs to the list of countries with the slowest internet connections in the world. For the past few years, it was almost always (if not always) the same. If there really is a certain “convergence” between solving the impossible object (that is, the state of our network) and the change symbolized by the delta here… then, let’s do this! Major supporter of making things better! *raises hand*
Other than the iconic receiver symbol, it didn’t look like it was too much for PLDT because it was able to stick with the red palette and the uppercase letters. For Smart, it’s a whole new thing that takes a lot of time to absorb. The most recent logo change seemed like a major overhaul: a very drastic change in iconography, color scheme, and typography.
Looking at the logo flashbacks above, Smart’s color scheme would be the first noticeable design element. The shades may have changed over time but it was always blue… until today. If we’re talking about serving the increasing needs of the people and the growing digital economy, I’d like to think the green would represent a move towards greener pastures. Otherwise, I’d think of Google Drive, Family Mart, or even Vicks Vapor Rub… and relate their services to the new brand.
Smart has been using that familiar blue uppercase chunky sans serif font for decades already. While there is a coordination between the hard-turned-soft-edge last letter for both PLDT and Smart, there’s a certain degree of strength felt in that old uppercase logo as compared to a combination of lowercase letters set in what looks like a modified bold Futura or Century Gothic.
If the PLDT logo change could pass as unnoticeable, Smart definitely cannot. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed Smart change its logo for five (5) times. The changes weren’t as big as in 2011 where they incorporated a more playful and youthful vibe to its identity by adding colorful bubbles to the blue-white ensemble. Who’d have known that today it’d be bigger than bubbles and greener than blue?
It would really take a long time to get used to this but if we’re about to experience the change, that’s what I’m looking forward to. Just to start with the getting-used-to part, I’m putting the logos here again for another look.