Design consultancy Lippincott has overhauled Nokia’s identity, looking to reframe the company as “a pioneer of digital transformation” with a new logo that utilises optical play.
The studio has had a relationship with Nokia for over 15 years, partnering with the company through every major step in its brand journey, according to Lippincott’s senior partner Lee Coomber. While most people still view Nokia as a mobile phone company, this “full-scale transformation across strategy and design” aims to position it as a leader in B2B tech innovation, a label that is “increasingly valuable” due to “the digitalization of every physical industry”, he says.
Nokia’s classic singular logotype has been used since 1978 and was designed for its robust mobile phones. It’s predecessor, used since 1966, was a very similar version accompanied by an abstract symbol.
Coomber says: “Redesigning a logo does many things, and demanding reappraisal by external audiences is a critical one.” On an internal level, “achieving buy-in across a large organization” was one of the project’s biggest challenges because “often the reality of change is emotionally difficult”, he adds.
The logo design involved identifying “the right degree of visual evolution” while retaining “the geometry and angular precision of the original”, he adds.
The updated logo was designed to be precise, digital-friendly and optimized for motion. One of the first steps was exchanging “the heavy industrial feel” of the letters for “lighter, more dynamic forms that are synonymous with high technology”, Coomber explains.
Despite creating “a more contemporary look”, he says that this change alone lacked “visual presence”. The next step was evolving each letterform into simpler digital forms that work together to read as Nokia.
Coomber describes how the refreshed logo incorporates the “symmetrical geometry and angular precision” of the original, highlighting “the long diagonal sweep of the original N” and echoing the connection point where “the sharpness of the new abstract K meets the O”.
The new design makes use of optical play called apophenia, which allows the human eye to complete missing connections. As well as symbolising both “the physical and invisible” nature of Nokia technology, Coomber says that this illusive design seeks to “visually capture” Nokia’s belief that collaboration is the only way to unlock the “true potential of digital”.
The logo will be applied in white against a kaleidoscopic colour palette, which seeks to “cut through the tech industry’s sea of sameness”, says Coomber. Its primary palette includes white, bright blue and classic blue, introducing bright secondary hues to help build gradients, and as highlights in charts and diagrams.
Lippincott sought to preserve Nokia’s “human persona” by avoiding “overly stylised imagery” often seen in this market, according to Coomber. Instead, the studio added cut-out imagery to Nokia’s brand toolkit, which aims to give the brand more options and increase its ability to stand out.
The studio also designed a new logo for Nokia Bell Labs – Nokia’s research branch –to visually align it with the wider Nokia brand. Nokia Bell Labs uses the same logotype for its full name, across three lines to make it more legible. Coomber explains how the “asymmetrical alignment” of the logo seeks to emphasise the “forward-looking nature” of the research lab as well as ensuring that “every word has presence”.
Nokia’s new identity was officially revealed at the 2023 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It will gradually roll out in all key markets and across all B2B-focused solutions, partnerships and services.