September 11, 2012
In 2000, a 3D modeling tool debuted called SketchUp, which was purchased by Google in 2006. Since then, SketchUp became part of the Google brand architecture, which meant the SketchUp identity was Google-ified. As Aidan Chopra explained on the SketchUp blog, “The Google years brought several logos as we responded to successive top-down branding directives. None were particularly inspired.”
You can see the evolution of the SketchUp logo as part of Google in the image to the left. The first logo is simply the original SketchUp logo with the Google name tacked on, and the logos on the bottom are later evolutions of the brand logo.
But the Google days are over for SketchUp, which was sold to Trimble in April 2012, and that means it was also time for a new brand identity. Rebranding SketchUp meant the brand could return to some of its core messages of simplicity, perspective, dynamism, friendliness, and professionalism rather than “stodginess or head-banging complexity,” as Aidan Chopra explained.
The new SketchUp logo is shown below. The new logo icon looks like a cube, which seems appropriate for a 3D modeling tool, but as Chopra points out, “It isn’t really a cube at all. The implied stairs or levels are an apt representation of our roots in architecture and other construction disciplines.” Furthermore, the chevrons in the logo icon create a series of hidden arrows pointing upwards — a nod to the “Up” part of SketchUp.
Ultimately, the SketchUp logo needed to be flexible to work in diverse media, as a screen icon, and more. Any brand that’s moving out from under a massive brand umbrella like Google has an opportunity to truly stand out with a phenomenal rebranding initiative. While marketers and customers might argue that the SketchUp logo isn’t perfect, the new identity is a significant departure from its Google identity. And returning to a red color palette that points to the history of the SketchUp brand before Google owned it, is a wise decision — not to mention the fact that SketchUp finally has a desktop icon!
What do you think of the SketchUp rebranding? Leave a comment and share your thoughts about branding after parting from a well-known brand like Google.
August 10, 2012
Air New Zealand launched its new logo recently, but consumers aren’t happy (read the comments on the announcement article). The new logo features a new color palette — black and white, and consumers want the old blue and green color palette that reminded them of the ocean to come back.
Kris Sowersby, the typeface designer who created the lettering for the new Air New Zealand Logo, posted details about the creative process behind the logo on his blog (it’s a great read). In his article, he wrote that according to the client’s request, the new logo was to be “a wordmark that reflects an innovative, modern company but projects our history, credibility and with a timeless elegance.”
Sowersby worked with design agency Designworks to develop the new logo for Air New Zealand. You can see it above. It’s surprisingly similar to the old logo, but the new type is an improvement.
Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe explained the new logo in his announcement of its launch. He said, “Our iconic symbol, the Koru, will remain but it will be set within our national colour rather than the blue and green tones on our tails today. Alongside this change we are introducing a new lettering style for the Air New Zealand name, which will adorn all our new aircraft. This will also be rolled out across all our signage and communications channels by the end of the year.”
Of course, consumers are usually not happy with any kind of change to the brands, products, and services they like and are familiar with. However, the change to the Air New Zealand logo is so minimal that had the announcement not been made, most consumers might not have noticed. The bigger concern among consumers is the loss of the blue and green colors on the Air New Zealand planes (check out the before and after images below).
Undoubtedly, in time, consumers will navigate through this brand evolution, and their negative feelings about the change will fade. At the end of the day, as long as the service doesn’t change and the brand continues to meet their expectations, the colors on the plane are unlikely to have a big impact on the brand’s success.
Remember, logos, typefaces, and colors are just tangible elements of a brand. It’s the brand promise and consumer perceptions and expectations of the brand that make or break a brand.
February 4, 2010
The Apple logo has become an iconic symbol of one of the strongest relationship brands, but it wasn’t always the cool monochromatic, Web 2.0 logo that it is today. In fact, the Apple logo has undergone three major redesigns since the original was created in 1976.
The original Apple logo was created by one of the lesser-known founders of Apple Computer Co., Ronald Wayne. It’s hard to even notice the apple hanging from the tree above Sir Isaac Newton’s head in this image. The text that borders the image (which is too small to read at any size) reads, “Newton… A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.” It’s not surprising that this logo only lasted a year as the primary tangible symbol of the Apple brand. There is really nothing positive that you can say about it in terms of branding a technology company.
The rainbow apple is the logo that most consumers saw in their introduction to the Apple brand. Apple brand champion Steve Jobs, himself, hired graphic designer Rob Janoff of the Regis McKenna Advertising Agency to design the new logo, and the final design chosen — the rainbow apple — worked. According to some reports, Janoff has claimed the bite taken out of the apple was intended to show people that the image was an apple, not a tomato, and it was a play on words between “bite” and the technical term “byte”.
One year after Steve Jobs returned to the helm of Apple (after he was ousted from the company years earlier), he called for a logo update, and what came out of this redesign was a color change from the dated rainbow palette to a modern monochromatic version that was also highly web-friendly. The primary color for this Apple logo, which is still used today, is chrome, but it has appeared in other colors as well. In a word, the new logo was sleek and matched the new direction Jobs planned to take the company. The monochrome Apple logo has even been reported as stimulating the brain and making people who are exposed to it more creative (according to a 2008 study by Duke University). The logo redesign in 1998 was subtle, but very effective in repositioning the brand and moving it into a new century in consumers’ minds.
Companies spend millions of dollars on rebranding initiatives, often dropping millions on a logo redesign alone. While I’m sure Apple invested quite a bit in its two logo redesign efforts, the lesson to learn from this history report is this — if there is value in your logo as a tangible symbol of your brand, a complete logo redesign might not be the best strategy to revamp or rebrand. Subtle changes could make a better difference and yield better results. However, sometimes a complete redesign is warranted, as in the case of the original Apple logo, so don’t be afraid to admit when your tangible brand elements just aren’t working.
What do you think?
November 17, 2008
I came across an excellent example of consistent branding on one of my favorite design blogs today, Brand New, that creates a clear message to a targeted audience which customers recognize and have quickly come to expect – Puccino’s a coffee bar with franchises in the U.K.
Check out some of the pictures of Puccino’s cups, signs, sugar packets, bags and more below, and notice how there is no doubt that these items come from the same company and deliver the same brand image – irreverant humor for a less formal audience. Puccino’s hits the ball out of the park in terms of meeting the 3 key components of developing a brand – consistency, persistence and patience. Read more
October 3, 2008
In August, the LEGO miniman turned 30 years old. Brand icons such as the LEGO miniman have a unique way of ingratiating themselves into popular culture. Consider Ronald McDonald, the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Michelin Tire Man. All of these “spokespeople” have become iconic symbols of brands. Consumers welcome them into their homes like they’re old friends, and that familiarity and relationship leads to comfort with the brand and the products under the brand umbrella. The end result of popular iconic characters is brand loyalty and a unique form of relationship branding.
According to a LEGO press release, the LEGO miniman is the second successful iconic symbol of the LEGO brand after the LEGO brick. We’ve established that a brand icon can be powerful, imagine the combined strength of multiple brand icons! And when one or more of those icons takes on a personality leading to that aforementioned relationship, then a brand has reached nirvana. Read more