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    WH Smith’s trial rebrand faces backlash after NHS logo similarity

    The new logo unveiled in December 2023 as part of a trial rebrand by WH Smith (Photo: @andrew_bulman/X)

    WH Smith has unveiled a rebrand of its logo for the first time in years, but the move seems to be backfired as people took objection to its similarity to the NHS logo.

    The newsagent and stationery chain has shortened WHSmith to WHS in the trial rebrand, which appeared outside ten shops in England.

    The new logo doesn’t use italics like the NHS, but it uses white on blue in a sans serif all caps, enough to cause confusion among the shoppers.

    “Very few have shortened WHSmith to WHS, so the rebrand doesn’t resonate,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote on X. “It also looks ugly and is too similar to the NHS logo. Waste of time and money!”

    Cal Roscow, executive director of marketing at the non-profit Best for Britain, commented: “What is so annoying is that it takes just as long to say “WHS” out loud as “WHSmith”.

    “And so everyone usually calls it “Smiths” for short, which is the bit they’ve taken out of the branding.

    “Terrible decision. B(efore you even get to the fact it looks too much like the NHS!)”

    WHSmith said there was no guarantee the rebrand would be rolled out to the wider estate, adding that there was signage to boost customers’ awareness of its products.

    The retailer used these three letters in brown and orange signage as part of its classic cube logo in the 1970s and 80s, but accompanied by the full name of the brand.

    WH Smith’s trial rebrand faces backlash after NHS logo similarity
    WHSmith bearing the former logo in Huntingdon, England, in 1986 (Photo by Roger Cornfoot/Wikimedia Commons)

    Opened in 1792 by Henry Walton Smith with his wife Anna in London, WHSmith has over 1,100 stores across the UK in travel and high street locations.

    The retailer used an egg-shaped red and gold sign until the 1970s before changing to the cube logo.

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