New TaxSlayer Logo & Identity: A Missed Opportunity to Slay the Competition
TaxSlayer is a privately held tax preparation and financial technology company based in Evans, GA. The company offers online tax preparation technology, allowing them to electronically file state and/or federal returns. TaxSlayer also offers business technology products and services for legal, bookkeeping and HR/payroll. According to the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), TaxSlayer Pro is one of the top-rated software packages for tax professionals in the US, and claims it filed more than 10 million returns in 2017.
From the TaxSlayer Brand Microsite: TaxSlayer's success has always depended on one thing: empowering customers to handle their own taxes. The helmet symbol, central to the new identity, represents the TaxSlayers, the customers, who are not simply the borrowers of the sword and shield, but the foundation upon which the company is built. The lack of an icon associated with the former TaxSlayer identity offered a big opportunity to shift the brand. The new icon aligns with the personality of the company - innovative, tech-savvy, friendly and relevant.
PREVIOUS LOGO AND NEW LOGO COMPARISON
Ah, tax season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, said nobody ever. OK, at least no normal person who is scrambling to find their W-2s, their 1099’s and, if you’re self-employed like myself, all the receipts that go along with running a business. On the other hand, if you are a tax preparer, or company that provides tax preparation software, this time of year is a boon! Woohoo! So, it seems like the perfect time of year to talk about the updated logo for TaxSlayer.
The previous mark was due for an overhaul about 30 seconds after it was introduced. The unfortunate choice of ITC Eras as the wordmark font, combined with the formulaic swoosh underline, made this a textbook example of bad logo design. The new wordmark is still a little wonky as it tries to retain some of the letter characteristics of the previous mark – especially the open-bottom “a”. Although those gaps are just a slight distraction, they bring focus to an area that doesn't need it. And again, everything referring to ITC Eras should have been burned. The lettering also has some inconsistencies in the upper half of the "S" and "e", but as a whole, the new wordmark is a vast improvement.
The most dramatic change is the aforementioned knight’s helmet icon. While I’m not sure how the new icon says "innovative, tech-savvy, friendly or relevant" as the company claims, it does say “empowerment”, and that’s what it should say. That is the alignment with the TaxSlayer mission.
The negative space of the helmet portrays a “T”, for TaxSlayer…duh. While this negative space treatment isn’t particularly unique (see my review of the Las Vegas Golden Knights), its simplicity is appealing. I do think the helmet could have used some further refinement. The slight dip in the top stroke of the “T” is unnecessary and seems to visually create a structural flaw in the helmet. The barely-rounded corners and straight sides add to an overall boxy appearance which, I believe, could have been improved with additional exploration. The red circle seems to serve no purpose other than that of an enclosure. OK, but it's nice to see that they break away from the circle in some applications.
For instance, when the new helmet is combined with the red tonal photography, it totally slays! It makes the case that you can conquer the “1040 Forces of Evil”. It shows the consumer as the tax slayer. And really, isn’t that what tax software is all about. Anyone who has used this or a similar service wants to believe they can face the might tax beast head-on and come out victorious. No need for other experts. No need to pay a lot of money and wait for weeks to get your return prepared. All you need is the right tool for the fight!
I just wished that mindset would have been carried throughout the other areas of the branding – especially the new brand introduction video. With a name like “Slayer” and a new logo that includes a helmet icon, the video could have been so much more than a “hey we’re a tax software company” commercial. At the very least, it would seem logical to begin the video using the new logo. At the very best, I think it would have been perfectly appropriate to create a parody of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Black Knight scene, but I digress.
Suffice it to say, when a quick Google search for “best tax preparation software” shows more than a half-dozen competitors, a great name should help your brand stand out. So, although I believe the new logo is definitely an improvement on the past mark, the application of the new identity missed an opportunity to slay the competition.