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The Past, Present and Future of UK Brands

July 13, 2019 - Stephan Salt

There are many companies who rebranded to keep up with the times of many years of trends. Nothing more than I like is a real good rebrand. Even if it’s subtle!


There are many companies who have even rebranded but have gone back to the past and revived their original brand, such as Co-op. They dusting off a logo from 1968 amid a major restructuring of its membership scheme. This change swept across all their brands including Food, Funeral Care, Legal and Insurance, changing their entire brand in a fell swoop. People are saying that this is a “radical act” but a very good idea.

Co Op Logo Redesign
The rebrand has been two years in the offing and was partly triggered by the new membership offer.

The rebrand has been created by a modernised version of the 1968 cloverleaf logo, which has been designed as a visual reminder of the company’s roots.

The new identity of Co-op has been redrawn from archive material and a new colour scheme has been introduced to enhance the original 1968 Co-op colours, while a new typeface has been introduced to work across all print, digital and in-store touch points. The full rollout is expected to take three-to-five years as the Co-op says it wants to be prudent with its members’ money. It will also include signage, shop environments, packaging, uniforms and vehicle livery.

Co Op logo design on bag
The applications are almost annoyingly simple: logo on the top with the same visual margin around it, then blue. Done. It’s on the strength and presence of the logo alone that this formula works. (So I guess if you don’t like the logo you are out of luck in liking this project.)

Co Op logo designs on products

The Co-op has its own private label, that carries around 600 products that will all adopt the new look as well. These are probably designed with ease-of-use in mind for both their customers in mind (due to being a corner shop style of supermarket – as their customers are normally in and out). It some cases it might be designed bordering on the boring edge of simplicity, but somehow the alignment of the background and the simple text I would have to say that I really do love the packaging design. It’s just great, like where the logo sits at centre stage. Overall, though, this has the right balance of retro and modern appeal while at the same time having a strong retail feel that can be more fun in the food retail operation and remain more serious for its other businesses.

Co Op Store redesign logo

Looking back towards the past for inspiration is one thing and others do look forward to create something new.

Channel 4

A new brand identity for All 4 has been designed which has been designed in collaboration with Channel 4’s in-house agency 4creative. The new brand identity includes a new All 4 logo, both a 2D version of the classic logo with a streaming “Playbar” at its core and then secondly an adaptive digital-first experience across their social media and VoD, mobile, big screen, and desktop platforms.

With a disruptive and rapidly evolving entertainment landscape, the challenge was to develop a slick, new identity that worked alongside the newly unified Channel 4 brands while creating a distinct, seamless, and next-generation experience for All 4.

In action, the Playbar (blue and yellow section at the bottom of the new identity) expands horizontally to become an infinite stream that will then guide, frame, and connect every piece of content, showcasing the vast library of shows that are available for people to see across all their channels and platforms.

All 4 Channel Rebrand (Source: Under Consideration)

Channel 4 has adopted for a while an edgy typeface logo and the angle of the leading edge within the 4 is used consistently to create a sense of forward momentum and is a strong graphic element of this new look. In motion, the fluid, slick, and effortless scene of the graphic makes for a new vision of what’s to come. Suggesting scrubbing through the timeline, revealing show images and titles through silky-smooth parallax motion shows that they have thought of everything including new design trends.

The stand out vibrant accent colours are the two true heroes of this new rebrand.  Firstly they have given us a sharp yellow and a powerful acidic teal, which brings a refreshing energy and digital quality to the look and feel of it. This is offset with a deep grey that adds a premium feel, while the use of Channel 4’s headline brand font in its boldest, italic weight throughout creates confident typographic language. From simple, clear headings online to unstructured, offset layouts in print and social and on-air.

Channel 4 Rebrand 2019 (Source Design Week)

Every aspect of the brand has been refined to create a digital-first user experience. With the playbar integrated into everything from the UI and actual streaming bar in the All 4 app when watching content to on-air promos, social stories with a powerful use of typography and strikingly graphic outdoor billboards.

Alice Tonge, Head of 4creative said:

“Our aim was to develop a more refined approach to branding for All 4, reflecting the improved product, which has become easier to navigate. The new All 4 branding is purposefully minimal, confident and sophisticated, providing us with a flexible toolkit that will bring freshness and energy to All 4.  It is the final piece of the bigger portfolio rebrand that happened at the end of last year as part of the strategy to align all our brands around the master brand.”

The new iOS app has been completely rebuilt to be more reliable, more intuitive and more engaging. It also brings improved functionality, including better download capability, the ability to start programmes again when watching live and to stream audio described content on iOS for the first time and furthermore better usability and accessibility (which is a firm favourite of mine). In further iterations new functionality and new ways to discover shows will be added, of what I have read so far. The visual design will also continue to evolve over time to reflect the new brand identity I’m sure of it.

There is also a streaming service that will rival ITV’s Player plus.

Dubbed  All 4+, this service was launched as a small-scale test in late 2018. There has been a lot of work gone into the creation of this brand and it’s partnering creations. There has been some very good feedback thus far.

The Head of All 4, Richard Davidson-Houston, has said:
“We’re innovating on all fronts. The classy new visual identity will help Channel 4 to stay front of mind in Video-on-Demand and the scaling-up of the All 4 + trial shows that we’re getting serious about a paid upgrade to the free service.”
“All 4 continues to grow faster than the market with its unique mix of live TV, catch up TV, box sets and our new content partners – such as Vice, Walter Presents and Adult Swim – give people even more reasons to choose All 4.”

Since the launch it All 4 (having moved away from their old identity which I thought was quite unique in its own right), 2018 was the most successful year for All 4 since it launched in 2006, with views up 25 per cent year on year. Walter Presents also had its best year ever on All 4, surpassing 27 million views thanks to hits such as 13 Commandments and Killer By The Lake.

So this means that people are taking a good look at this and thinking about what they have done is something special.

Purple Bricks

Only a few years old, Purple Bricks, founded in 2012 is an online real estate company that turned its first profit in 2016 but was then fighting allegations in 2017 that it was misleading customers. It has also recently expanded into the United States. So, whether the rebrand came about due to international expansion, a need for a new image following less than desirable attention in the press, or just the standard growth and maturity of a young company, the company has a new look.
In the real estate landscape, it can be very tempting to be very overt with imagery utilising rooflines, doors, or keys. This is moving away from that, and while it might look like a financial institution, the mark and colour visually distinguish it from competitors.

It will catch your eye. I would like to think that one could do interesting things with the logo mark as a border around a “For Sale” sign in a front yard.

From letterhead to digital marks on listings, it seems clear that the mark can be utilised in numerous applications.

The bold purple colour is the strongest thing the brand has going for it in this regard, but overall, it seems to be too muted in its form and font. When I first came across the brand, I wasn’t sure if there was some slang or obvious cultural reference in the UK to purple bricks that would help make this a brand with real meaning.

Purple Bricks Logo Redesign

I’m not sure that happens to be the case, so I think the name is actually a bit confusing here. What exactly are ‘purple bricks’ and, in the case of this company, how does that represent doing things different in the real estate industry? A strong look for the brand with successful proportion bodes well. However, the font selection gives pause yet it isn’t enough hesitation to cause alarm.

This brand should stand for a long time to come, assuming that the business does as well. 

The logo is certainly simple, and without a doubt, there are many out there would naturally think that it is too simple. Clever simplicity is a very difficult thing to achieve. This logo does a fairly good job, the four diagonals line up, and that adds unnecessary complication to an otherwise simple mark. While it isn’t perfect, the mark is a large improvement. While the new mark might have the appearance of a financial institution, at least that usually conveys trust and strength. The original mark looks cartoonish and game-centric.

So there are many ways in a brand that can rebrand, but all in all, most of the time a brand does a rebrand, it’s to be with the times. At Fifteen we haven’t shied away from that either and our branding truly represents us and our beliefs.

If you feel that you need to rebrand and make something more unique, or even haven’t got a brand and you would like to make your vision a reality then Fifteen can help. Anything you have we are the agency for you. Get in touch with our friendly team or give us a call 01159325151 and we will be here to help you achieve your goals and visions.

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