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Design: what’s old is new

Steve McKinney
Steve
Steve is CandidSky's lead front-end developer. He makes things look great, and believes in building responsive websites with the core principles of usability and simplicity.

November 10, 2016

3 minutes

Guess what, guys.

We’ve spotted another design trend, one that seems to be sweeping across the commercial world. In fact, so many household names have been through the re-branding process this past year that it’s difficult not to notice a fairly common approach.

People often think that a re-brand means a complete overhaul of appearance, where it’s out with the old and in with the new – well, not necessarily. On closer inspection, many designers tasked with the process of re-branding are starting to look back at the history of a business and use that for a basis.

Fashion comes and goes in cycles (apart from ‘the mullet’, thankfully) and it seems so does web design and brand identity. What’s old is new, again. It’s really interesting from a design perspective to see companies go back to an older logo or at least a strong emphasis in that direction.

Here are a few notable examples…

Co-op

coop

In the case of Co-op, they have gone back to an older logo. This was designed in 1968 and it doesn’t look out of place. Not only that it was the right decision, how often do you hear people call it anything other than ‘Co-op’? The adaptability and clarity of this logo is what makes it a great choice.

Mastercard

mastercard

Source: Mastercard brand history

This was a similar approach—clearly a blast from the past—but a touch more refined. The history of the Mastercard logo shows a timeline of how design trends have evolved over the years.

This takes cues from the 1968 and 1979 versions of the logo. The colours are more inline with more recent versions, but the overlap borrows from the earlier years.

The type is a more modern choice, but very similar to that of the past. The positioning outside of the circles will help with the array of use cases and recognisability. On it’s own it is a familiar logo without the type, another wise design decision.

Kodak

kodak

Source: Work Order

Despite troubles in more recent years, Kodak is still a very recognisable company. Recently they have rebranded, which takes cues from both their 1971 and 1987 logos.

You could see this as an approach that goes back to their more successful years. It’s certainly a much more recognisable logo over the generic type version that came before this most recent update.

Final thought

One of the reasons I think we’re seeing these kinds of re-brands is because there are now more types of use than ever. The previous Coop logo would be difficult to adapt to social media. Mastercard would suffer with legibility and Kodak could easily be missed due to how generic it was.

These companies are also looking back to when they weren’t the huge corporate faces they are now and the increasing expectation for flawless customer service. Perhaps those earlier years are a direct inspiration in more ways than one.

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