Change is a fact of life for any brand. It may be needed to establish a new corporate structure, to advertise new services, or to underline a shift in the company’s identity. Or it could simply be time for a change – when a brand realises its visual identity is looking tired, and that the moment has come for a fresh start.
If you’re looking for some well-known rebranding examples to learn something from, we’ve got three case studies for you of companies that underwent a radical change and strengthened their identity as a result – Juventus, Dropbox and Mailchimp. And at the end of the article, we’ll also take a brief look at the latest trends in logo design, investigating the direction in which most logos currently seem to be heading.
Juventus, from a crest to a ‘J’
The Italian football club’s first brand identity dates all the way back to 1905, a highly elaborate image inspired by the coat of arms of the city of Turin.
During the twentieth century, the club restyled its logo many times, with various elements (a zebra, a bull and stars) making an appearance on the crest and the colour combinations changing repeatedly. We don’t have enough space to go through all these different stages, so instead we’ll fast-forward to 2004, the year when Juventus entrusted the Interbrand agency with its rebranding.
The aim was to turn the football club into a genuine brand, and to take it beyond the white lines of the football pitch. The change was mindful of the club’s past: the city’s coat of arms was redesigned in a contemporary style, the lettering was made more legible through a new font, and experiments were made with contrasting colours.
But the real change, which led us to choose the club nicknamed the ‘Old Lady’ as a case study, occurred in 2017. The redesign work, once again by Interbrand, took 18 months and led to a genuinely radical recasting of the logo. As you can see, the crest has been replaced by an abstract design, where only the letter ‘J’ remains, in black and white, with a double line that seems to separate past and future.
The new logo tells the story of the club’s sporting and commercial development through a simplified symbol that is universally understood, whether or not you’re a fan, and wherever you are in the world. Silvio Vigato, Juventus’ Chief Innovation Officer, discussed the new design in an interview with Wired.
Dropbox, from a box to the abstract representation of one
In 2007, Drew Houston, Dropbox’s founder and CEO, created the company’s first logo: a blue box with a 3D shape.
From then on, a series of small changes were made to the logo, aiming to simplify the shapes and flatten the colour. The definitive move to ‘flat design’ took place in 2009, when the icon for the Dropbox app was designed, and in 2013 this icon became the brand’s new visual identity.
The main change, which is what we want to focus on here, came courtesy of the Collins design studio, working in partnership with other agencies and with the company’s in-house team of designers. From this point on, Dropbox no longer presented itself as a mere place to store files, but as a creative laboratory instead. The rebranding was announced in this video.
The logo became even more stylised and abstract: we are now presented with an open box, with the infinite capacity required to hold all of the world’s creativity. Everything is dominated by a huge explosion of colour, as the brand commandeered a wide-ranging palette of ultra-bright colours. A new font family was also chosen, Sharp Grotesk, containing an impressive 259 different fonts. This vast selection allows the company to play with typefaces in exactly the same way that it plays with colours and its brand-new visual universe: dynamic images, illustrations and artworks blend in a tidal wave of creativity.
Mailchimp, rebranding in pursuit of creative expression
Collins was also the firm behind the recent rebranding of Mailchimp. Once again, the work celebrates the brand’s identity and expresses the company’s top priority : its love for creative expression. The structural elements of the brand – the logo, colours and typography – have only actually been tweaked here and there.
Freddie, the company’s mascot, has been simplified to ensure he comes across perfectly even in smaller sizes. The font, meanwhile, has been softened to match the little chimp’s design. While most logos seem to be taking on more and more stylised forms, Mailchimp continues to opt for full, rounded and playful shapes. As the page dedicated to the company’s redesign explains, the changes aim to enable the mascot and the lettering to coexist harmoniously. Previously, these two elements had hierarchy issues, and were never shown together, but the redesign has removed this conflict, ensuring that the two elements can live in harmony and interact with one another.
The true essence of Mailchimp’s rebranding can be found in the images populating the brand’s visual universe: a series of creative, dynamic, playful and childlike illustrations paired with realistic and authentic portraits. The goal is to reinforce the company’s unique personality, which stems from the coming-together of numerous creative minds. The rebranding is therefore a manifesto for Mailchimp’s identity and an invitation to its users to follow suit: ‘We want to show our customers that building a successful business means staying true to yourself. With this brand identity and design system, we hope to inspire them to be bold and creative with their own brands.’
Logo rebranding. In which direction are companies heading?
Before we leave you, we’d like to show you a fascinating piece of research we came across recently. The article ‘Interesting logos are being replaced with boring ones’ lists various logos that have recently been redesigned. The result is a plethora of logos that are all very similar – all ultra-stylised, with bold, sans serif fonts. In their pursuit of the latest fashion, many brands seem to have left their personality behind. See for yourself: can you spot any difference between the Saint Laurent and Berluti logos?
Let us know your thoughts!