There's no other kerning like…

David Jones quietly revises its logo

Before and after
Before and after

David Jones is an Australian upscale department store, owned by South African retail group Woolworths Holdings Limited. The first store opened in Sydney in 1838 by David Jones, a Welsh immigrant, with a mission to sell “the best and most exclusive goods”. It is the oldest continuously operating department store in the world still trading under its original name. It currently has 41 stores located in most Australian states and territories, and offers the finest brands across fashion, beauty and home. On 28th July 2016, David Jones opened their first New Zealand store in Wellington after buying Kirkcaldie & Stains.

New logo for David Jones
Logo detail

Well this one slipped under the radar, with no official statement from David Jones. Looking back through archives of the David Jones website as well as media releases places the update in July 2016. This aligns with the company’s expansion into New Zealand as well as its Spring/Summer campaign. If you haven’t been to a David Jones store in a few years, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the change. So let’s break it down.

The old logo was set in a transitional serif face. It looked like it could have been created in Microsoft Word as it wasn’t fully resolved; its weakness was its poor kerning, particularly in “DA” and “ES”. Having been around for much longer than I have, I suppose the reason it endured was because of its plainness. It was purely and simply a label, a marker for the brand – as a logo should aim to be – without trying to be a showpiece.

Old logo in stacked orientation
Old logo in stacked orientation

Accompanying the old logo was a stacked variation (above) which was used fairly widely. Kerning aside, as a compact block of letters, it sort of works. While there was no need for the two words to meld together, it doesn’t look too forced and is still readable. I’m unsure as to the fate of this version as it remains in use on things like gift cards. I’ll update this post if I find anything new.

Before and after of sample letters in detail
Before and after of sample letters in detail

The primary change in the new logo is the increased letter-spacing, which all but hides the kerning issues. It feels a bit more classy, which aligns with the brand.

If you’re having trouble seeing the differences in the letterforms themselves, the above image should make it clear. I haven’t been able to identify the new typeface, but the main differences are seen in the serifs, which are now slightly extended and with the endings cut straight rather than rounded. The horizontal strokes which sit on the baseline or at cap height are also straight, where previously curved. The proportions and contrast of the typeface, however, remain largely the same.

Typical David Jones storefront
Typical David Jones storefront with old logo (Wikipedia)

The old logo looks especially old school on existing storefronts.

Catalogue covers with the old logo (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014)
Catalogue covers with the old logo (Winter 2010, Winter 2011, Christmas 2012, Spring/Summer 2014)
New look store opening featuring new logo
Store opening featuring new look and logo (Getty Images)
Catalogue covers with the new logo
Catalogue covers with the new logo (David Jones)
New logo on a catwalk
New logo on a catwalk

As a store selling luxury products, the old logo was already on the right track with its serif face set in all caps. Just think of brands like Oroton and Bulgari which also use a similar style for an upscale feel. The new logo sensibly builds on the past by ironing out the kinks and giving it some breathing space, and hopefully this freshness is reflected in the look of stores. The revision is a step in the right direction and should serve well for years to come.