When are they going to change the Boots logo? Or to put it another way, Christ, when are they going to change the Boots logo and see what we see: a silly, overly cherished symbol of a form of the good logo — like brilliantined neat hair — as we walk past the frontage in half a block of pity at the old old-fashioned sign? It was already used in a retrospective perspective when they chose to keep the ’signature’ look way back at the last redesign, when it was a good way of presenting a company: give them a hand-written piece of something, they’ll love it, it’s the human touch, the people are going to pour in like a river of consumers, like a Niagara of shoppers for their mango shampoo and hi- fidelity systems because they're going to feel it’s for another person. What do they take us for? People who are happy with this !ogo?
Perhaps they are working on it now, the advertisers, perhaps they are looking at it as we do and seeing what we see and are no longer able to get in there and change it, not like the boys at BHS who did the shifty well before people had started to grumble. And what a job they did, what a transformation, what an altering. It was not just a change for change’s sake but an entire re-working — or at least, an example of their Will to rework - of the whole concept of what the shop was and is about.
Pre-the new BHS logo, the old one was just a sign that the shop that you knew as British Home Stores (the most expressive and faintly expanSive title) was located here. Here it is, where the sign is. Now we have the unusually balletic, gentle hand-writtenesque sign, not actually the work of a human hand, but a computer's effort to appear like it is trying to seem hand-written. And it is lovely.
Now with the new sign, the shop is not particularly about being an honest supplier of products to kit out the good British household with this-is- why-wawon-the-war items.
Now, it is about a sound — beeaichess, beeaichessness — and this is what Boots needs to claim back.
As far as logos go, the Boots logo might once have been a beautifully straight-forward bridge to the shaky heart of the consumer. Once upon another time, the signature itself was all that Mr Boot would have needed. It would have been the original sign: ’underneath this sign is the thing that this is the Sign of and that made the Sign'.
The man is travelling round the country selling chemistry products and bumping into Mr Jay Sainsbury, who has hit upon the incredible idea of selling
4 THE LIST 7—21 Sep 2000
COME IN AND HAVE
A LOW—CALORIE SANDWlCH AND SOME PROBLEM CREAM.
'things cheaply': a genius or, as far as I can gather, he was just the first one to gather together some products with their straight- fonivard, descripto-aesthetic, hand-written packaging, all grease-proof paper and string, put them on a barrow and appear at people's doors in a neat clean apron and bow tie. And what he offered was the offering. The fact that he had a product range at marked-down prices was an actual idea. Now we have asda talking about the fact that they don't need to have a sale because they have low prices as standard ForEver And Perhaps Ever, anyway until they roll them back just a bit more, like a young boy washing his willy thoroughly for the first time, painfully rolling back, feeling the WOW bite of truth for a sheer lasting second.
Boots must acknowledge us and our present power and what all sensible naturally clued-up, fully pro-amateur designers and cognoscenti like us have already known every time we have looked at the sign since nineteen eighty three.
The semiotics - or it semantics? — of it all are so wonderfully classic and clean. Mr Boot just made what he needed, a sign, and it could only have been a signature. What else? As a species, you come up with writing to have an external version of the inner sound and the connotations of what a word is for you. And you learn to make it more or less acceptable, universal, recognisable, like the signature of the person themselves, something that is not only done by them alone, but also a symbol of the fact that it is done by them alone.
A signature is a sign of a signature, a representation of representing itself made real and three-dimensional. As a logo for a business, it has that extra-connector angle
with the ink still seemingly sticky since the last piece of human involvement.
When you look at a signature sign
for a business, you sub-subliminally realise that somehow, somewhere,
a human was present to make the mark and you are buying,
therefore, from another
person just like you. Boots is
not a building, a Plc monster machine, it is a person, frail and barefooted and travelling in the world just like you, so come in and have a low-calorie sandWich and
some problem cream.
And as we buy from Boots, as we pay Boot the ultimate compliment of believing him
to be there, embodied in this
retail outlet, so we can employ the ultimate form of respect: a demand for quality and a wee change in the logo which frankly is not all that nice a signature, actually, more like a picture of the drunken squandering of bile, uphill along some railway tracks.
ROISIN M((‘lOSKl Y
Famespotting James McAvoy
What's his game then? Well, one minute he’s a 2 l ~ year-old actor from Drumchapel performing in The Reel Of The Hanged Man at the Traverse Theatre, the next minute he’s a 21-year-old actor who's hanging out with David ’Fri'ends’ Schwimmer and Tom Hanks.
How the hell did that happen then? James was spotted in the aforementioned play by the casting director of forthcoming American TV series Band Of Brothers, who snapped him up for a part in the show.
What‘s Band Of Brothers all about? It's a spin-off series based on Stephen Spielberg's Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan, produced by Spielberg's production company Dreamworks, and the brainchild of weepy Oscar winner himself, Mr Tom Hanks
And what does young James think of Tom Hanks? 'He’s a really nice guy and a good director,' he says. ’He’s got a lot of good input cos he’s an actor as well so he knows what to say.’
And Ross from Friends? 'I met him a few times and we went out for a few drinks. He’s a nice guy.’ Fair enough. So what's next for the wee man from Glasgow? Well he's currently filming a two- part BBC costume drama, Lorna Doone, which is going swimmingly. ’lt's good fun,’ says James. 'lt’s all big wigs, big breeches, horse riding and firing muskets.’
So he's set for TV fame and fortune? Not necessarily. 'l’m learning huge amounts on TV but I do still prefer theatre,’ he says.
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