In 2018, there were a few brands that reinvented their identity exceptionally well, including some in our hometown of Kansas City. We chose five of our favorites for your consideration.

Mailchimp

As with any rebrand, especially with a more well-known brand, there is always some feeling of contention, and Mailchimp certainly did not escape this controversy.

After Jessica Hische’s brand refresh of the logo a few years back (above), Mailchimp completely moves away from their script logotype to a quirkier, more playful treatment as well as a refreshed illustration of their mascot, Freddie.

It’s sad to see the script go because particularly in this time in design, the script was what made Mailchimp memorable. Clean sans-serif treatment of logos have dominated identity design and for Mailchimp to move in that direction is bold—they risk blending into that sans-serif landscape.

However, they pull themselves back by not completely committing to the sans-serif look, but rather by embracing a slightly retro and quirky typeface, one that holds a unique personality. It doesn’t quite fall into the trend while maintaining a clean holistic feel with the renewed Freddie. In its previous iteration, Freddie and the mark never quite fit together nicely, but that isn’t the case now.

Freddie completes the Mailchimp identity rather than competes with it.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa sees a very subtle refresh that looks like not much has changed but certainly changes how the Lufthansa logo reads.

The mark has been cleaned up a bit, with a greater horizontal emphasis and slight changes made to the letterforms but the overall look wasn’t completely changed. The updated crane icon is much cleaner, sleeker and thinner and reads beautifully as an elegant touch to the brand.

The airline wanted to make the brand feel and look premium, and they have achieved it. The sleek, clean and corporate feel certainly does move it in that direction. A dark navy blue became the dominant color, and while the yellow was not totally abandoned, it will be missed. A subtle but powerful refresh that has to make it on the list.

Nowadays, too many brands try to stay relevant by jumping on the bandwagon rather than build on their brand equity. Lufthansa recognizes the power behind their brand.

PT’s Coffee

What can be said about this redesign that hasn’t been said already?

Carpenter Collective delivers with this redesign that breathes new life to PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. while reinforcing the hand-crafted and welcoming feel of the brand.

The bison, while it seems like an odd icon for a coffee brand, is quite appropriate and adds to the narrative of PT’s being a Midwestern company. The inspiration came when Carpenter Collective went to visit PT’s Coffee headquarters and happened upon a herd of bison on the Kansas prairie.

Beautiful illustrations mixed with a personable sans-serif wordmark reinforces the warmth and approachability of PT’s Coffee that is evident everywhere within their brand, whether it is on the packaging or within their stores. The dark blue with the softer colors meld beautifully together on the packaging, it doesn’t detract from the brand or it’s message.

It’s beautiful, classic design with a slightly modern twist.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America

One of the more controversial rebrands this year was the complete redesign of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America by Kansas City’s own Barkley.

It’s a great rebrand and a great mark, but there has been lots of discussion on the longevity of the mark and its odd “B” mark which reads Big Brothers, but not Big Sisters. These arguments are all valid, and the mix of typography being used here with a trendy mint green simply compounds these concerns.

But for the times and who this rebrand is targeting, it hits the mark. The stark photography treatment in conjunction with the mint green is completely in line with the bold typography and patterns that have been adopted into the rebrand.

While all of these moving elements may seem disconnected, it does add variety and longevity to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America and certainly meets the target of appealing to a younger demographic.

It hurts to see such an established brand go through such a drastic rebrand but it’s a needed one and certainly moves the foundation in a new direction. That’s why it makes our list.

Library of Congress

Another drastic rebrand was Pentagram’s redesign of the Library of Congress.

Now, this… this is a big step as far as redesigns go.

Pentagram partner Paula Scher completely leaves behind the classic serifed, even timeless look for a loud mark that reads Library Library of Congress.

It certainly raised some brows when Pentagram announced the redesign. The new mark does not read as dignified, American, or any variation of a government organization. It establishes its own identity outside of the government and places greater emphasis on its identity as the Library rather than a library.

One can appreciate the sentiment.

The strength behind this rebrand lies in its flexibility to be arranged with different elements, contain odd breaks, and mimic the qualities of a bookshelf. It allows for a more open read of the mark–unlike its predecessor.

The black and red is resolute, unyielding but also passionate, a needed break from the ever-dignitary blue that permeates professional and governmental organizations. It’s a nice mix of old & new and certainly breaks with the mold of traditional government design.

Y Pham

Author Y Pham

Y is a Digital Designer at InQuest Marketing. She designs digital collateral for client campaigns by transforming initial concepts into striking visuals. Y loves to cook Vietnamese dishes, specifically a traditional rice dish called congee, and her favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

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