What’s your first impression of this logo? Was it like mine? “What the hell is this?” This is the logo for Battersea, an animal shelter in England who takes in dogs and cats of any age or health condition with no exceptions. The re-brand was done by world-renowned branding agency, Pentagram (specifically partner Marina Willer).
The design community can get too caught up in how a logo looks on its own and while that is certainly important, the application of the logo is just as important, if not more-so. Sometimes a mediocre logo is made significantly better by the material that supports it: what it’s placed on and how it’s used.
At first glance, this looks like a stroke of watercolour with poorly hand drawn facial features of dogs and cats slapped on top of it. When you take some time to dive into the details, you’ll notice each blue brush stroke has been carefully cut out into a specific abstract shape and the hand drawn ears and noses fit comfortably into each groove, nook, or cranny. Again, this is not your typical bold, thick lined, and minimally designed logo we’re used to seeing, so let’s see how they used it.
As a responsible adult, I do not currently own any pets, but as an irresponsible spending millenial, I’ll take 3 of those dog tags, a mug, and a t-shirt. Without knowing who this company is, the logo communicates a friendly, fun, and cute brand personality. The significance of what is seen by customers, non-designers, and people outside of the company is the most important factor in determining the real success of the logo. We can gawk over the intricate details and nuanced visual tricks, but at the end of the day, if the target audience doesn’t get the right message, it’s a failure. When the logo is applied to the small little gifts and pet accessories it makes me curious to know more about the company – and after learning about who they are, I would no doubt be able to recognize it again immediately if I saw it being worn around in public.
They’ve established their brand colours, their brand voice, and brand elements and applied them to just about every promotional piece, social media post, and physical item that they produce. The blue watercolour brush stroke is used wonderfully as a background element for text on a banner from a recent fundraising event. Their type choice of Franklin Gothic is used in combination with high quality, simple photography to create captivating print ads.
While I may be heavily focused on this one specific example, there are plenty of other incredible complete and creative visual identity systems out there. Take a look below at a few examples I’ve collected. If you want another example, go back and check out the Taco Bell post from last week and take a look at the wonderful, gooey, cheesy logo treatment on the fry box.
Whether you’re designing a logo or hiring someone to create one for you, never forget about the bigger picture. Maybe it’s not your favourite choice out of the options being presented, but maybe it’s the one that works absolutely perfect with the rest of the brand. A complete brand will achieve much much more than simply having a nice shiny new logo to show off.