ODA overhauls Which? identity with an “actionable” red thread device

In a bid to improve the consumer advice organisation’s appeal, ODA designed a visual system that takes the user through their query with simple graphic devices.

ODA has created a new visual identity for not-for-profit consumer advice organisation Which?, transforming its static red block logo into an “actionable” graphic device.

Which? Is run by a team of experts comprising investigative journalists, tech experts, policy makers and lawyers, to offer advice and information to both free users and paid members.

Internal research by Which? revealed that people did not understand its offering. ODA’s creative strategist Sarah Westwood says that people’s perceptions of Which? were “very narrow” and “synonymous with reviews for fridges and hoovers”, so the new identity was designed to “force a reappraisal of Which?”, taking its relationship with consumers from “passive to active”.

Westwood says ODA repositioned Which? as “the home of trusted everyday answers”, switching out its previously “cold and distant” identity with elements that resonate with lifestyle tropes. The challenge, says ODA creative director Grant Willis, was creating a brand “extensive” enough to communicate the breadth of what Which? does.

Creating a red thread

Which?’s former logo – a wordmark in a bright red box – was “a defined shape and size”, which ended up “looking like a consumer brand”, says Willis. The wordmark’s main application also did not make sense grammatically, as it lodged an extra question mark mid-sentence, reading “Which? holiday is best for you?”, he says.

Its new logo has been reimagined as “a positive actionable” graphic asset of a red dot on the question mark. This expands and contracts as required, creating space for a question and acting as a “thread that runs through the entire brand”, Willis adds.

The space can be filled with imagery instead of words, such as inserting an image of a dog for the question ‘Which dog breed is best for me?’. It also interacts with illustrations, becoming a conveyer belt for luggage or a rail for clothes hangers, for example.

Which? had previously used the red colour to “illustrate the problem” but now, as the primary brand colour, “it is associated with everything that’s actionable, taking you from the question to the answers”, says Willis. Running throughout the brand in it helps to take Which? from “an old school print brand” to “digital first”, says Westwood.

“More with less”

Removing the Which? wordmark from the red box aims to make the identity less obtrusive against consumer brands and reinforce its impartiality, according to Westwood. Because Which? is a not-for-profit and its advice “has no agenda”, Westwood explains how ODA sought to introduce “a neutrality” across the identity, particularly by supporting the red with a pastel colour palette.

Making Which? more prominent and attractive in a digital world meant tweaking its signature red, swapping the “classic print red” made using a 50/50 split between Magenta and Yellow, for one with reduced yellow tones and more magenta, Willis says.

Which? Was also using different styles for wordmark and typeface, while the “countless divisions and departments” all wanted to have “their own identity internally”, with individual typefaces, Willis explains. He adds that the organisation had been using a font called National for years, applying it inconsistently across eight weights with no real guidelines.

ODA’s solution was to condense the use of National to just three weights – bold, regular and light – with stricter guidelines on when to capitalise and when to use each weight.

Since the hand-drawn wordmark had no links to the primary typeface, ODA designed a version using National with slight modifications to the letters h, c and w to further improve consistency.

ODA also found that the elaborate scenes created by the in-house illustrators at Which? were time-consuming and introduced inconsistencies across the illustrative style. The studio encouraged Which? to switch to simplified drawings, to allow the consumer to “get to the answers quicker”, says Willis.

ODA took the same approach with the photography guidelines, avoiding multiple photos and wide-shot scenes in favour of simple depictions such as “a hand holding a screwdriver” to signify repairs, says Willis.

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