The “impossible” story behind Polaroid’s rebrand

The brand is dropping its only recently adopted Polaroid Originals moniker, and placing a bigger emphasis on its rainbow spectrum iconography.

Instant camera pioneer Polaroid has been rebranded with the aim of strengthening the company for the decade ahead.

The rebrand marks the so-called “final chapter” of a revival effort that began in 2017. It will see the brand return to its Polaroid mononym, after having traded under Polaroid Originals for the last four years.

The “Impossible Project”

While the revival project has been ongoing since 2017, Polaroid brand director Ozlem Birkalan reveals the mission in fact has its roots in a small, dedicated group of Polaroid superfans who refused to let the brand die more than a decade ago.

“In 2008 a small group of instant photography fans – [calling themselves] Impossible Project – saved the last remaining Polaroid factory in the world, located in the Netherlands,” she tells Design Week. “Since then, we have been the only people making film for Polaroid cameras – both vintage Polaroid cameras and the new cameras we have designed.”

Relaunching the Impossible Project as Polaroid Originals back in 2017 aimed to bring the brand “back to instant photography” and signal a new age of “exciting innovations” for both dedicated fans and new audiences.

Now, Birkalan says, it is time to bring the company back to its original name.

A nod to the “bold rainbow spectrums” of the past

Beyond a name change the new look for Polaroid takes its inspiration from the brand’s nine-decade history, she says, and was led by the company’s inhouse design team.

It puts an emphasis on Polaroid’s rainbow spectrum icon, which has long been associated with the company, but has in more recent years taken a back seat in its branding.

“When Polaroid first arrived on the scene, it changed the rules of branding and design with the introduction of bold, full panel rainbow spectrums across the product lines,” she says. “[But more recently], we have been quite shy in reclaiming this in certain elements of our marketing.”

In the new rainbow-led designs can be found across packaging and all other touchpoints, according to Birkalan. To further show its commitment to the rainbow the brand’s new analogue camera, Polaroid Now, will be available in the red, orange, yellow, green and blue colours of the spectrum.

“Looking to the future”

The motivation behind the rebrand is to cement the company’s relevance in the years to come and unify its output.

Having been the pioneers of instant cameras, with the first ever invented by Polaroid found Edwin Land in 1947, Birkalan says the brand is just as relevant in our digital age, but for different reasons.

“In the past, people were excited about our products because they could see a picture developing instantly in front of them,” she says.

Today however, it stands as an alternative to what Birkalan calls our “disposable, ‘always-on’ culture”.

“Polaroid now stands for the meaning it brings to a moment that you can capture instantly but keep with you forever,” she says. “[This rebrand] is to make it clear to all fans, retailers, and partners that we are one brand, with one name that represents the iconic company that people came to know and love over the past nine decades, whilst looking to the future.”

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