2012 Review - the year in branding
Computing giant Microsoft and online shopping destination eBay, both unchanged for many years, were refreshed in 2012 as we saw broadcaster ITV’s brand overhauled and the delivery of an Olympic brand which was first glimpsed in 2007.
It had been 25 years since Microsoft had last updated its identity. A reconfigured four-part symbol was introduced alongside a Segoe font logotype - the font used on all other Microsoft products.
eBay got its first refresh in the company’s 17-year history. Shortly after the Lippincott-designed identity was unveiled, a new online look was rolled-out as part of the brand extension, with a ‘global online market place’ proposition, and a personal curation function, which possibly owes something to the popularity of Pinterest.
In broadcasting, ITV underwent a major rebrand, designed in-house, anchored with a five-colour identity and a flexible palette, which can be adapted for different programming.
Meanwhile More4 worked with Man Vs Machine and 4Creative to make this very moveable identity, which Jason Bruges Studio then developed a mechanical tension device for, animating its triangular components for idents – all part of the channel’s lifestyle programming shift.
Economic belt-tightening, a story of this and recent years, may in some ways be helping the branding sector.
At least it was interesting to hear Cancer Research talk about how in the charity world, with everyone fighting over less money, it’s more important than ever to have a strong brand.
This was one of the justifications given in August at the unveiling of the new Cancer Research UK identity, which was designed by Interbrand.
Meanwhile Wolff Olins created a new global identity for Oxfam, which will provide unified branding for the organisation worldwide. Oxfam justified the rebrand by saying that, at a cost of £550 000, it had taken up less than 0.002 of its annual global turnover.
Changes in the mobile phone market saw Orange and T-Mobile come together under the new EE brand, developed by Wolff Olins, and the launch of a new business-to-business service, Weve, a joint venture between EE, O2, and Vodaphone, with an identity designed by SomeOne.
SomeOne also developed a Vorticist-inspired identity for new cultural development The Halcyon, which opens next year and features shards of kaleidoscopic colour in its branding.
Visual trickery in identities will be forever popular, when done well. We liked this whale tail for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, by Conran Design Group, which can be extrapolated as a stand-alone marque.
More so, Arthur Steen Horne Adamson helped agricultural business Agrii with a logo, which on close inspection reveals a hidden ‘+’ between the two ‘ii’ letters, a symbol of the positive relationship between Agrii’s customers and its employees, according to the consultancy.
Similarly, Wolverhampton Wanderers, although not given a new identity or crest, now have new guidelines designed by Raw, which have partly been applied through pictograms and supergraphics that extrapolate details like the club’s black and orange colourways and the triangular eyes of its wolf mascot.
The identity system created for Shrewsbury by & Smith and We All Need Words was one of the most inventive place branding projects we saw this year.
The two consultancies were asked to ‘put Shrewsbury on the map’ and used the Tudor features of buildings to create a black and white patterning that looks like this…
Coley Porter Bell saw in the beginning of the year by bringing a new look to Morrison’s M Savers value range. Tesco and M&S would follow suit, with their value ranges; an obvious investment in hard times perhaps – and a trend which left one analyst, JKR chief executive Andy Knowles telling us ‘people are bored of austerity Britain’.
With shoppers also indulging in small pleasures, he feels low-price supermarkets are taking a risk by prioritising over quality ranges, and says, ‘People are looking for a relief from the tedium and drudgery.’
James Backhurst, creative partner, The Allotment Brand Design
‘I sit here, Sunday night, watching Sports Personality of the Year, the emotions and pride washing over me as I look back at an amazing year in British sport and brand-making history - The Olympics and Paralympic Games 2012.
For me the 2012 Olympics is a masterclass in identity and branding. I’m not talking about the logo here, enough has been said about that. I’m talking about the creation and orchestration of a national and global experiential event.
I’m talking about every single brand touchpoint and brand interaction being delivered brilliantly to create a seamless experience and one that made me immensely proud to be a British designer.
When I watched the torch came over Kew Bridge near my home I was hooked. I’m not usually into sports but I remember getting up at 5.00am to watch Badminton, of all things, at Wembley Arena; that was after watching the opening ceremony until 1.30am.
I remember the seamless way-finding signage from my home Tube to the event Tube, and I remember analysing the uniform of a games makers in our carriage - the attention to detail right down to the laces in the Adidas and 2012 co-branded trainers.
I remembered how the event branding totally transformed Wembley, how the opening video explaining the Badminton rules was a brilliant idea and how the white lasers illuminated the badminton court so the audience could put the rules in context with the play. I remember the exit video with today’s sports, pop and movie stars reminding you not to forget your children or belongings. Although exhausted I remember we were compelled to book as many tickets as we could when we got home, we wanted more, much more.
Great identities evoke a desired emotional reaction and stay true to their purpose. 2012 truly captured the intentioned spirit and ambition of ‘a games for everyone’, it was something you could see, feel and hear at all the events and across the nation. This why it’s my nominated identity for 2012.’