Seems like everyone has been griefing the Syfy Channel about its new brand. What could be lamer than switching from Sci Fi to Syfy? At last, a designer and typographer has explained why "Syfy" is cool.
Alfonso Gómez Arzola is a designer, photographer, and typographer who writes essays about media design. He's written a defense of Syfy on his blog Sub which actually makes sense, both pragmatically (the channel needs a brand it can trademark) and aesthetically (Arzola makes a good case for why the homophone soundplay of the name is delightful).
He writes, in part:
So, Sci Fi is out of the picture, how do you name this sci-fi/fantasy/horror TV channel? Well, its viewers already know it by that sound, sci-fi. The damage, so to speak, is already done. So why not capitalize on what little familiarity we already have? Why not a variation on sci-fi? Why not Syfy? We've already heard a million times over why not, but here's why yes:
1. it rejects its predecessor's uptight, serious ways; and
2. it becomes a clearly distinctive (thus, in both ways described above, totally ownable) brand name while (bonus!) preserving pronunciation.
Syfy, as both the name and the resulting brand/identity, adopts a more imaginative attitude. The conspicuous use of the Ys makes it difficult to take it too seriously and invites speculation, which is excellent because speculation embraces what should be the channel's core cultural north: What if…? And while one could argue that the point is mute on the side of oral pronunciation (ie. it sounds exactly the same, so it can still be confused with sci-fi the genre), the argument bears little importance: A staggering majority of a viewer's interaction with the brand is visual. They read and talk about it on blogs, forums, and other means of online (see: written) interaction and they view it on the channel. It's not like Syfy's main outlet for advertising is radio spots.
This is the first time I've actually pondered what makes Syfy a cool name, and I have to admit after reading the rest of Arzola's essay I'm feeling persuaded. Maybe Syfy should hire this guy to do some designs and fonts for them. He seems to understand the mood they're going for.