Trend Focus: The Retro Rebrand


One of the emerging design trends for 2016 has taken brands back to their roots. A number of companies that rebranded this year have looked to their history for inspiration resulting in a distinctly retro rebrand.

Some of the key brands that have taken this approach include Kodak, Co-Op and Natwest. The question is why go retro? Looking back rather than opting for a complete reinvention, during a time when everything seems to be rapidly changing, gives a sense of familiarity. By referencing their heritage, these brands represent experience and expertise. The simplicity of these logos suggests a move away from computer generation and a preference for a hand-crafted approach.

Co-Op unveiled their rebrand this year with a return to their “clover leaf “ logo from 1968. Whilst inspired by the past, it still looks fresh and contemporary, thanks to its simplicity. The rebrand suggests a no-fuss approach and evokes a sense of nostalgia with customers looking back fondly at the role the store has played in their lives.

The UK bank Natwest has also referenced their Sixties branding with a return to a logo design from 1969. The icon has been reworked into a series of 3D cubes that ensures the icon works well across all platforms. The use of cubes, means that even when communications don’t feature the Natwest icon, it acts as a visual trigger to identify it as Natwest. The use of animated elements within digital and vibrant colour palette show that this is a bank for the modern age. Alongside the logo, Natwest also have a suite of graphical illustrations being used across print and digital literature.


Kodak are another brand who have decided to bring back a past logo which demonstrates their long-standing history within photography. The new logo inspired by their logo from 1971, is incredibly striking. Inspired by a film-strip, the Kodak lettering has been stacked so that it looks like perforations whilst the contrast of red and yellow combines to create both a ‘K’ and emphasizes the film-strip identity. Kodak are celebrating their heritage and legacy by reimagining their branding that will take them into the future.


Another company making their brand stand out with a reference to their heritage is Polo. The brand has retained the green, blue and white but it has been reworked into a crisp, clean and much more simplified design. Polo now has an all white brandmark, which looks stylish but retains the brand’s heritage with the aim of engaging with younger consumers. The outer blocks of colour on the packaging help to differentiate the products from each other whilst keeping the core Polo branding that ensures it remains memorable and distinct.


The retro rebrand looks like a trend that will continue into 2017 especially for long-standing brands that are fighting to remain recognizable against younger brands. Even newer start-ups seem to prefer a more simplistic approach to logo design in a move to position them as transparent. No doubt we shall see more brands opting for retro rebrands.


Image Credits: Design Week (Polo and Co-Op), Creative Review and Under Consideration.

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