Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Hollywood’s Fanfare Logos Are Getting a Makeover: Paramount and Universal

I can’t be sure as to whether it makes me a big geek or just a big kid to freely admit the following:

I friggin’ love fanfare logos!

You know those animated logos that show up briefly before a movie plays or after a TV show has ended? Yeah, those are the fanfare logos, and in this blogger’s humble opinion, they’re simply some of the most enchanting and expertly crafted logos around. The fact we typically see them in animated form only adds to their appeal, but it goes without saying that they’re pretty damn recognizable as stills too.

Also common knowledge is the fact that the finest fanfare logos belong to the Hollywood studios. And as luck would have it, my fondness for these magical, moving title cards is getting kicked up a notch in 2012 (twice over, mind you), with both Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures rolling out new-and-improved logos just for my viewing pleasure.

Each studio happens to be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, which means it’s time for them to push their branding efforts a little further than usual. This of course translates to anniversary-themed sites and apps touting several of each studio’s most memorable films from years prior, but more importantly, this means that we as viewers get to be awestruck by the top-of-the-line artistry that goes into the reimagining of the opening logos.

First and foremost, take a look at what Paramount has up its sleeve:


That fictional mountain has never looked more realistic! With the stars now dancing across the water on their approach and with a gorgeous sunset now painting the landscape in a warm, inviting glow, this animated logo is quite a memorable affair. Job well done, if you ask me.

But if you thought that was stunning, then you’re in for a real eye-gasm with Universal’s new unveiling:


Now that’s a sight to behold! The transition from daytime to nighttime as the lettering scrolls from one side of the Earth to the other is on spectacular display, but perhaps more noteworthy is the re-worked version of Universal’s timeless, orchestral theme, which is now more rousing than ever!

If there’s a single complaint I could lobby at these new logos, it would be that the “100th Anniversary” tags are a little distracting, but that’s hardly a criticism worth weighing against these otherwise stunning achievements in visual branding. After all, it’s not like these studios can celebrate their centennials forever.

All in all, I’d say that Paramount and Universal have certainly outdone themselves. Can’t wait to see what the next century holds for fanfare logos!

Agree? Disagree? Miss the logos of yesteryear (here and here)? Voice your opinion below.

Image credit: twm1340


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  1. Amy Swanson

    I love how your excitement and passion really shines through this post, Joe! I agree with you 100%, I love the new fanfare logos. Paramount’s is more visually appealing than Universal’s, in my opinion, but overall they’re both really nice. When I hear that opening music in the theater I get goosebumps with excitement of the movie starting. I’ve been well trained, haha!

    Great post, Joe!!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      You liked Paramount’ logo more than Universal’s? Fair enough. To each his (or her) own, I suppose. 🙂

      Honestly, I must’ve watched Universal’s new logo over a dozen times now, and it STILL gives me goosebumps!

  2. Alex Brodsky

    I’m with you when it comes to Geek-ing out over the fanfare logos (though I never had any clue that was what they were called). They set the tone and the mood of the theater as it segues the audience from the casualness of the previews into the actual film.

    Both of these designs are pretty awesome, but a device I’ve complained about probably deserves partial credit for these designs. The Paramount stars swooshing through the water and the Universal letters circling the globe are sharp, but I feel like that design came about because both studios plan on making a ton of films in… wait for it… 3D. As great as these logos look in 2D, they might look cooler in 3D (not cool enough to change my mind about 3D, or to get me to pay $20 to see them). Surely the studios had the 3D experience in mind while designing these.

    Cool post, Joe

    • Joseph Giorgi

      That’s so true: they really do “set the tone” for the audience. As soon as that fanfare logo shows up on screen, the audience knows to just sit back, shut up, and watch — a respectful audience, that is.

      And, yes, I’m sure that the studios had a third dimension in mind when designing these logos, but at the end of the day, they look great in both 2D AND 3D. So, the fact that Paramount and Universal may have had an ulterior motive is just fine by me. 😉

  3. Eric

    Hands down, smart idea. Make the movie exciting out of the gate, and more than just the name of whichever production house cranked-out the film. That’s how it should be. I’ve never really felt one way or another with logos, though it does get a little redundant when they have to flash the logos of several producing companies before the damn film (probably the same people who roll their credits at the beginning AND the end of the film…Woody Allen excluded from this because he uses a titled card). Cool stuff, Joe! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      No problem!

      Yeah, it does get annoying when up to six or seven animated logos play before the actual FILM even starts. It’s like… “Okay, so the movie must be starting after THIS one. No? Well maybe after this NEXT one. Right? No? Seriously? How many of these things are there?”

      …and then there’s like four more and I’m already done with my nachos and I’m friggin’ bored.

      Of course, if ALL fanfare logos were as well put together as Paramount’s and Universal’s, I’d probably be okay with having to sit through more of them.

      • Jill Tooley

        Joe, you’re lucky I wasn’t drinking anything while I read this comment — otherwise, I probably would’ve laughed hard enough to make it come out of my nose. And then I would have kicked you in the shins for my trouble! Haha…

        Seriously though, you crack me up. 🙂

  4. Cybernetic SAM

    I personally think it would have been neat to do a a throw back to their original ones. After all, that is where they got their start! Plus I am a sucker for nostalgia. The new ones, though very pretty, I think the original ones commemorate who they always have been.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I do love the vintage logos, but at the same time, it’s nice to be wowed by something new. We can always check out the old fanfare logos online whenever we’d like, so that’s good enough for me.

  5. Jeff Porretto

    This is serious geek-out territory man. But you know what? Totally warranted! I REALLY noticed the first time I saw the new Universal logo. I just wasn’t sure if it was new and I felt cool for noticing, or if it had been like that for a while and I was, yet again, behind the times. Nevertheless… It was friggin cool! I’m glad there’s people out there that appreciate such things!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      You can certainly count me among those who “appreciate such things.” If lovin’ logos is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right!

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    What the “next century holds?” How long do you plan on living? 😉

    But I gotta admit, those new logos are pretty sharp. I really like the Paramount one with the stars dashing across the water. The Universal one is nice, too, but seeing it in 3D was a little unsettling in a “OH GOD UNIVERSAL IS COMING RIGHT AT ME” kinda way. The stars dancing away might be a little kinder.

    Either way, both of these studios did a fantastic job!!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      “What the ‘next century holds?’ How long do you plan on living?”

      As long as it takes! 😉

      I’m so jealous that you’ve already seen the new Universal logo in 3D. I really want to see that. Yeah, I can imagine it’s probably a little invasive, but that’s just fine by me. I say, “Bring it on, studios! I ain’t afraid of your logos!”

  7. Rachel

    I remember when the Disney fanfare logo (Tinkerbell swirling around Cinderella’s castle) changed from 2D animation to the current 3D animation. I think the updated version is really pretty, though it was sad to see the 2D go. I also love how Warner Bros’ logo changes depending on the movie–The Matrix being the first time they did this, I think. It changed with each Harry Potter movie, too, among lots of others. I appreciate WB’s efforts because it makes the logo become part of the mood and tone of the film, drawing the audience into the movie.

    I saw the new Universal fanfare logo in theaters recently. It’s definitely very cool! I like the extra drama in the orchestral arrangement. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this stuff, Joe! 🙂

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Funny you should mention that. I was just thinking the other day about how “unique” the Warner Bros. logo is. I couldn’t agree more: the fact that they weave it into the opening of their films is a really nice touch. It definitely helps ease the audience into the movie more seamlessly. So cool!

  8. Jill Tooley

    I love these new fanfare logos! They’re so cool. Universal sometimes changes their intro based on the movie that’s playing — I think that’s badass. For example, the music and graphics turn 8-bit before the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie…I was so excited about that geektastic homage! 😉

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Haha. I forgot about the Scott Pilgrim intro (in all its chiptunes glory). I love when the studios do that for films. Such a cool touch!

  9. Jen

    I have to admit when I see the Disney fanfare logo I get excited. It reminds me of my childhood and all the movies I still love today, so I guess it’s mostly nostalgia. This is a really cool post Joe, I would never have thought about this otherwise. 🙂

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Yeah, I feel like the opening logos aren’t something that people pay a lot of attention to. But nostalgia definitely plays a huge role in my love of such logos. Glad to hear that it’s the same for you. 🙂

  10. Jaimie Smith

    Joe this post was awesome!! I never really cared much about these fanfare logos (i really did not know thats what they were called either) but after reading this, i admit i am a little more intrigued. I think they both look pretty damn sharp.
    And its crazy that we know those images and sounds so well because growing up we all saw them hundreds of times! 🙂

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