Since the beginning of Pandora Media as a streaming music service in 2000 (originally known as Savage Beast Technologies), the Pandora logo has undergone a few changes.
Each incarnation of the logo is simply the text “Pandora” spelled out as a word mark, but the fonts and colors have been updated with the times.
We will review a brief history of Pandora Media, the company’s logo changes, and the reasons for and complications surrounding the current installment of the Pandora logo.
What Is the Pandora Logo?
Pandora (also known as Pandora Media or Pandora Internet Radio) is a service that streams automated music recommendations. It is available only in the United States via the mobile app or on a web browser, and it is powered by the Music Genome Project.
A user can choose a specific artist/genre, and the service will play similar songs. The user can then provide positive or negative feedback, and that feedback allows the service to improve future song choices based on the user’s preferences. Pandora is available either for free or as a paid service. The free version allows for basic use of Pandora’s features but with certain limitations, and the listener must endure advertisements.
Pandora Plus is the name of the paid service, and it grants the user commercial-free listening, improved streaming quality, subscription channels that are available offline, and music downloads. Pandora’s major competitors are brands like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music.
Previous Pandora Logos
The Pandora logo was originally plain serif text in medium-dark blue and all caps. Later, a design firm in Los Angeles, California, called BIRD, updated the logo by changing it to a deeper blue and switching up the font to look bolder and modern. The new serifs on the Pandora logo were themselves curved and then ended in a pronounced point. This type of serif is frequently called a “slab serif.” A registered mark was also added to the end of the word “Pandora.”
Along with the Pandora logo refresh, the “P” from the new logo was used to create an icon for the mobile app. The “P” is centered on a soft white/gray button with plenty of space around it for a cushion, and it is colored with a subtle gradient that starts with medium blue at the top and fades down into a deeper blue.
Overall, both of the previous incarnations of the Pandora logo were somewhat plain and uninteresting, and yet they served their purpose. They supplied a brand identity to Pandora Media, and the service’s users became accustomed to the association between the streaming service and its word mark.
The New Pandora Logo
In 2016, to coincide with the launch of the paid service Pandora Plus, the company revealed a new Pandora logo with a corresponding monogram of a simple “P” that is used in multiple applications, including the icon for the mobile app.
The new logo holds certain similarities to the previous versions in that it is a shade of blue and it is simply the word “Pandora.” However, this time around, all the letters are in lower case, and the font has changed to a curvy sans-serif. The registered mark from the previous logo has been retained at the end of the word but is somewhat more prominent than before.
The new Pandora logo and “P” monogram have both drawn a significant amount of criticism. Prominent graphic design experts have described the Pandora logo that features just the name of the company as generic, plain, and uninteresting. The logo is neither good nor bad; it just is.
Like previous editions of the logo, it serves the purpose of brand identity. It is clear and easily readable, and it can be used in a variety of applications. The “P” monogram is just a simple, fat “P” shape without the hole in the middle, and it doesn’t match the “P” in the new word mark. The “P” can be filled in with color or graphics and allows for a lot of flexibility in its use.
Regarding the usage of the “P,” Pandora has incorporated the graphic into its advertising and signage by filling it with a mixture of animated designs. The designs feature brightly colored patterns, and they flash and wiggle in a style akin to familiar treatments in the MTV logo of the 1980s and 90s. It evokes a nostalgic vibe that people can easily associate with musical entertainment and programming.
Some design critics felt that the “P” monogram was trying too hard to be everything to everyone, and that Pandora was pandering to too many types of people in their desperation to compete with the likes of streaming music titans like Spotify.
The most significant outcome of the new branding was Paypal’s reaction to the “P” emblem. A lawsuit was filed against Pandora in which Paypal accused the music company’s new logo of being too similar to the Paypal emblem. For comparison, both logos feature a bold “P” shape in similar shades of blue.
The fonts between the two logos have similar features as far as thickness, rounded corners, and the missing hole in the center. However, Paypal’s logo features two Ps instead of just one, the two P’s are in different tints of blue, and the two P’s slant at an angle. At a glance, it could be easy for an average consumer to mistake one well-known brand for the other.
However, the lawsuit drew a fair amount of criticism. Some thought it was laughable that Paypal seemed to be claiming ownership over the letter “P.” Along with that same line of thought, critics were amused over Paypal’s attempts at painting Pandora as a sinking has-been tech company who copied the Paypal logo in an attempt to associate itself with a more successful brand. The lawsuit was settled in 2017, but no details of the settlement were revealed. Pandora is still using the “P” monogram throughout their media channels.
Why Did Pandora Change Logos?
Pandora toted their new branding identity as a celebration toward vast improvements in their service when Pandora Plus was rolled out in 2017. With the new subscription service, which offers an advertising-free listening experience with unlimited skips and the ability to listen to music offline, the company felt that a new Pandora logo helped showcase the new image of the brand.
The new Pandora logo was revealed less than 12 months after the brand’s competitor, Spotify, revealed its own redesign in 2015. It is common for competing companies to follow suit with each other when it comes to trends in innovation, technology, and even logo design. It is theorized that the Spotify re-branding was also a contributing factor in the development of the new Pandora logo.
With regard to the “P” monogram, Pandora stated that the P was a versatile canvas in which a variety of visual energy, sound, color, and emotion could be expressed. The “P” is supposed to hold the capability of representing any type of music in diverse ways so that anyone can identify with it. Some say this notion expresses the desperation Pandora might be feeling in order to gain some traction against their biggest competitors.
How Has Pandora Changed Over Time?
Even though the Pandora logo has been redesigned a few times, the essential concept of the brand has remained basically unchanged. Pandora still provides a streaming music service that caters to an individual listener’s specific tastes, and it works as a platform that allows people to easily discover new music they might enjoy based on previous listening preferences.
The major changes with the brand were the name change from Savage Beast Technologies to Pandora, their decision to become a publicly traded company in 2011, their addition of the subscription-based service in 2017, and, of course, the visual changes to their logo and branding.
In 2018, Sirius XM Holdings revealed its plans to acquire Pandora for $3.5 billion. One might predict that when this transaction is complete, there will be further changes to the Pandora business model, and perhaps even another redesign of the Pandora logo.
In summary, Pandora has continued to be a popular streaming music service for online and mobile users over the years. With huge competitors like Apple Music and Spotify emerging and continuously upping their game, Pandora has battled a little to keep up with the times.
In an effort to draw more listeners away from other popular streaming services, they have offered a premium subscription service with many of the same features as the competition, and they have updated their brand presence with the introduction of a new logo. While the new logo may not be all that dynamic or innovative, it does offer consumers a visual change to the brand’s identity that corresponds to improvements in the brand’s service.
The logo is clean and easily read. It is neither a dramatic improvement over the older Pandora logo versions nor a turn in the wrong direction. It performs its basic functions, and we may see further changes once the acquisition by Sirius XM is completed.
Featured photo via Wikimedia Commons