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This month Vanity Fair released a new serif logo for the magazine's 100th anniversary issue. We reached out to Bas Jacobs from the Underware type foundry for his thoughts.

Jacobs wrote us back:

Although the new logo looks very different from the old one, they are both very classical magazine mastheads. No remarks on the workmanship of the design; that looks very solid, well made. Of course you could question if a magazine like Vanity Fair wouldn't require a different, more progressive, more risky or challenging direction for their covers. My answer would be ‘no’, because such a magazine requires a traditional approach. They can use this new masthead for quite a while in the future.

Wouldn't it be ideal if a magazine like Vanity Fair has such a strong masthead which is traditional, but at the same time one-of-a-kind? Let me explain what I mean. In general you should maybe more question if changing a masthead too often is a good thing by itself. It can be a missed chance of creating a hard-to-avoid publication which becomes part of collective memory. Wouldn't it be better if a magazine keeps their masthead for decades, and let their masthead become their magazine? The masthead equals the publication. However, that requires lots of guts. There are just a few examples of such a lucky situation. Think of the self-willed New Yorker, or maybe even Rolling Stone magazine for example. Their mastheads are not perfect, but obstinate. Newspapers are mostly much more conservative in this aspect, which I believe is a good thing.

Maybe this is more a general observation about publication design instead of a comment on the Vanity Fair redesign, but I believe it’s an essential discussion which needs to be held at every intelligent, self-examining publication.

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