Retro Branding is the current trend…

We’ve recently noticed a trend with several large organisations rebranding in a retro style. Last week Kodak unveiled their new branding, adding to a growing list of companies who have been looking to the past for future inspiration.

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The Co-operative

We first noticed the Coop return to it’s 1960’s classic cloverleaf designed logo. The logo will be familiar to millions as it was used for a period of over 30 years, and featured on the company’s famous dividend stamps, packaging and signage.

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The Cooperative have been going through some tough times recently, with sales at an all time low. A rebrand was the obvious course of action to refresh their image. Design agency North, were appointed for the project.


Nat West

Nat West Bank have also rebranded using an original symbol designed in 1968 as the centrepiece of their branding. Agency Futurebrand, have used a new palette of bright colours to try and give the brand stand-out on the visually-busy high street whilst trying to attract a younger audience to it’s financial products.

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The New Nat West Logo
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Nat West Logo Evolution
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New branding aims to inject more colour to gain more stand-out on the high street.

Kodak

Kodak, another high street name, has also rebranded. Taking design cues from its logo that was used in the 1970’s, it still features the trademarked Dress Red and Dress Yellow colours.

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The new Kodak logo
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The Kodak logo evolution

It differs from the most recent logo (shown in the centre) which has been used since 2006. The new branding is clearly adapted from the original K symbol designed in 1971, but opting for a vertical display of the words ‘KODAK’ within the ‘K’ shape.


Our Opinion…

So what do you think of the resurgence of historical branding? It is quite easy to say that there has been little imagination used when an organisation reverts to an image reminiscent of years gone by. However, we also know that fashion also rotates and styles come and go as the years go by, and graphic design is much the same.

As marketing professionals, we also know that during a brands evolution, it should retain some heritage value when moving forward, ensuring it still remains recognisable to its existing customer base. If a brand is changed beyond recognition then not only does it become unfamiliar with its market, but also loses the brand values and emotional attachment that it has spent its lifetime building.

We can also argue that todays world is very instant, technical and stressful. Coupled with difficult and more complex trading markets we sense that the retro style harks back to golden memories of healthier trading conditions and more simple living. The logo is the central element of the brand, we must also take account of the other brand assets that are designed to give the brand its identity and complete the rebrand.

In the case of Nat West, this can also hark back to the days of pre-1990’s recession, when Banks and Financial Institutions had better reputations.

Kodak has seen its market totally change with the advancement of digital photography, however it has found a niche in the market and is trading on its heritage.

The Coop has always been the leading high street supermarket, but has faced increasing competition from the discounters and other high street grocery stores. As such it has focussed on its traditional values of providing affordable good quality food and provisions for the family. The rebrand shouts back to the days before the large supermarkets, and focussing on the high street, in-line with the current trend for shopping locally.