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Gwyneth Paltrow's organic skincare line Goop launched today, and once we got over the fact that the line starts at $90 a bottle, we started thinking about Goop's prominent "G" logo. Why? Because it reminds us of a certain other internet-based beauty brand that features the letter G on its packaging: Glossier.
That's not to say that Glossier has a monopoly on "G." In fact, the two letter logos look rather different. So, we asked a typography expert what would make one G more Goop-y than another. Racked roped in Jason Santa Maria and Natasha Jen for the task. Santa Maria is the executive design director at Vox Media, the author of On Web Typography, and the founder of Typedia, a shared encyclopedia of typefaces online. Jen is an award-winning designer and a partner at Pentagram, the influential global design firm.
Both analyzed the two logos in the photo above and told us what they think the brand is all about, solely from the packaging. This is based just on the logos — not on their knowledge of Gwyneth Paltrow or Emily Weiss.
The Goop G
Santa Maria says that Goop's G is a subtly altered version of the classic font Caslon, which is one of his favorites. It was created by a British designer in the 1700s and adopted by American printers extensively — the first two printings of the Declaration of Independence were printed in Caslon.
So Gwyneth Paltrow, she of the $4,700 juicers, picked a very common font.
"There was actually an old adage from printers at the time to the effect of: when in doubt, use Caslon. It just sort of worked for everything. For that reason, it was used so much that it really became like a typeface of the people," Santa Maria says. "It was sort of like a democratic typeface because of that. To hear you say that the skincare costs that much money is actually a very interesting juxtaposition, because of the typeface alone."
We asked why the capital G might have a period next to it on the product's cap. "I think a lot of people do that in logo design, just to seem as though they're making a definitive statement. It's a sentence that just has been completed." He adds, "It can often come off really pretentious." (Once again, Santa Maria says he isn't very familiar with Gwyneth Paltrow.)
Meanwhile, Jen thinks the typeface doesn't have anything particularly Goop-y about it. "I don’t see any obvious stylistic linkage between this type style with Gwyneth, the celebrity as we know her," she says.
The Glossier G
"Glossier’s G seems uniquely drawn and inspired by Gothic blackletter," Jen tells Racked. "It seems like purely an aesthetic choice. (I cannot see anything from the brand that relates to the 11th to 17th century.)"
Santa Maria agrees that the Glossier G seems hand-crafted. "It might be a typeface, but I don't recognize it offhand," he says. "It has some sort of fluidity and movement to it, especially the way that that bottom spur is kind of curled under, which I think is very interesting. It feels younger, to me for some reason."
"The Goop feels more classic and because of that, it feels a little more buttoned-up, while Glossier feels a little bit looser. I don't know if that means younger, or maybe a little bit hipper, but it's a contrast to me."
Santa Maria doesn't think the packaging between the two brands shares too much in common beyond the G. "There's the white background with the black printing on top of it, but I don't think beyond that they are very similar."
Jen also thinks that the fact that the two brands both use G seems coincidental. "The G is the first letter in their names, and it’s common that brands use their initials to make some sort of monogram or a graphic shorthand. It can be any letter."
"What matters here is how the G is used," Jen adds. "In Glossier’s case, it's used in large scale that wraps around the bottle and makes the letter almost an abstract shape that’s highly memorable. In Goop’s packaging, it's used as a small stamp, and it's supported by the full name "goop" spelled out on the side."
Maybe there is something to that single G, though. "I think a lot of products like to have some hidden thing behind them that you only get if you're part of the club. The outside viewer, they don't know this is called Glossier because it doesn't actually have the name on it. That sort of obscurity makes it cool," Santa Maria explains.