Waterstones reverts to original logo

Bookseller Waterstones has scrapped its Venture Three-designed sans serif marque and reverted to its previous Baskerville logo. Venture Three has also been involved in the new branding process.

The original logo

The company has reinstated its former Baskerville serif font with a capital W, which was used prior to Venture Three’s May 2010 rebrand. It has also dropped the apostrophe from its original title.

A statement from Venture Three says, ‘Since James Daunt became managing director [of Waterstones] in July last year, we’ve been working closely with a new management team and a new vision for the business.

‘Digital is revolutionising the bookselling business. But there’s no plan to become a fully digital company. With the rise of Amazon and decline of local libraries, Waterstones is proud to be a physical space where you can discover, pick up and read new books. The serif font is a reminder of this offline presence. And a nod to the era of the traditional bookshop.

‘At the same time, Waterstones are fully on board with digital. In fact, dropping the apostrophe was in part chosen to make the name easier to type, while being a more accurate match with its URL and other online expressions.

‘And there is a bigger thought here. The change liberates the brand from the proprietary world of one man, and takes it into a new space. One that embodies the combined efforts of hundreds of booksellers, the management team, and millions of customers. With the deftest of strokes, the Waterstones brand has been released to the nation.

‘As the business strategy has been transformed, so the brand has changed. This first element certainly references the past, but looks to the future. And there is more gorgeous brand work to appear that will take this idea further.’

Daunt says, ‘Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving a capital W, and a font that reflects authority and confidence – Baskerville does just that.’

‘Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling. It also reflects an altogether truer picture of our business today which, while created by one, is now built on the continued contribution of thousands of individual booksellers.’

The new logo will gradually be implemented across all touchpoints including written communication, display material, online and shop fits and refurbishments.

Venture Three's 2010 rebrand
Venture Three’s 2010 rebrand
Hide Comments (15)Show Comments (15)
  • Ray Vellest November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    While I do appreciate the fact that Waterstone’s original brand is highly recognisable as a traditional and valuable brand, I believe the rebranding was spot-on and brought the brand to a new era. I wonder if the decision to revert to the original brand was made based more on the challenges of transition than anything else.

  • Andrew Brown November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Could be a mistake, moving backwards.

    “Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving a capital W, and a font that reflects authority and confidence…Baskerville does just that.”

    Also old fashioned, traditional and safe – perhaps not the best place to be right now in this crazy digital age?

  • Victoria Osborne November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    How odd, I was just thinking about this the other day.

    I saw the shop on Trafalgar Square has the sans serif logo but I still see shops with the old serif logo and I wondered when they would all be consistent. I thought to myself that it was a shame as I prefer the serif logo so I am pleased to see they are reverting back. I agree that Baskerville does have more confidence, strength and relevance than the sans serif.

  • Claire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    When will England learn to stop dumbing down every brand and turning the high street into a pre-school wonderland? Congratulations to Waterstones who realised just in time that they were falling into that same trap – and had the courage to turn things around.

  • Adrian Barber November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The attention given, the quality, experience and knowledge of the staff and the ambiance of the store is far more important in promoting the Waterstones brand, in these rocky times for the high street than the logo.

    Companies can promise what they like but ultimately it is the experience when visiting the stores and the recommendations from PEOPLE we trust which will form our opinions and on going relationships with these brands.

    Take note all the Sheds that sell technology!

  • Trevor Stanesby November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I was never convinced with the sans serif version and think it a brave decision to revert back. I prefer the established Baskerville.

    However, it’s strange times we live in with companies experimenting with their branding. Not sure this translates so well with those of us who see the waste of money used in such exercises.

    Just think they could have given Joe Public a discount instead 🙂

  • Joe November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Waterstones…. waterstones…. Waterstones… a new MD means a time for a ‘rebrand’?

    VentureThree, Venture3…. your comments please?

  • Paul Leach November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hmmmm, we’ve just had a similar situation with a new brand ID. Our client felt that the sans serif ‘W’ looked like a bum/pair of boobs. Cue some snazzy bastardisation 😉 They had a point though.

  • Mark Astle November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What about the stories about the dropping of the apostrophe? Are they true, or just a PR stunt to make us all really happy when they decide not to drop it after all?

    Although it would probably end up as a foot mark instead of an apostrophe anyway…

  • David November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I thought it was Ironic that a book seller would opt for an illiterate re-brand – swapping their correctly capitalised identity for one with a lower-case w.

    As such I am very glad to see it revert back to the correct form and I sincerely hope they won’t spoil it by doing something stupid like ditching the apostrophe or anything…

    …oh wait. Never mind.

  • Dan Clarke November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Maybe they should have picked up a few books on branding.

  • Bojkowski November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    A cap W in waterstones.com makes no sense though. If removing the apostrophe was in recognition of the digital realm then why ask people to hit ‘Shift+w’ instead of simply ‘w’. Web addresses ignore caps, making this whole exercise a pile of waffle. Can we just say well done waterstones for recognising a branding fail, hitting revert and leave it at that.

  • Matthew Galvin November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Sometimes it’s ok to say you’ve done a bad job.
    Sometimes it’s ok to admit that your quasi ‘brand logic’ machine got it wrong.
    Sometimes it’s ok to imagine a serif of all things in a digital space.
    Sometimes it’s ok to say to a client, don’t change.
    In this case it didn’t happen.
    Everyone could see this coming. I’m sure Venture Three are all over it now.

  • Rich November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


    “We need a rebrand. Here, Venture 3, have some money. Why yes, it is quite hip.”

    Fast forward to 2012:

    “Oh dear, Venture 3. Your new branding didn’t work. Never mind! Here, have some more money to change it back again!”

  • Tanya November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I am so happy they decided to revert back i think now more in the digital age waterstone’s needs to stand out, where as with the sans serif one it does not, it lacks something and it sits in the background, the simple use of bringing back the old font brings back their strength, it is more look at me i am here and here to stay. Having worked for projects on waterstone’s i have to same sometimes old is best, doesn’t mean that it has to embody that. now it’s the brand managers job to make sure that the reverting back to their old logo doesn’t revert their thinking and strategy, they need to bring it back with new values that will see this logo embody the new digital age.

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