Category Archives: creative review

CNET’s new identity

Since launching in 1994, US media brand CNET (an abbreviation of Computer Network) has become a trusted source for reporting and advice on all things related to technology and digital culture.

As tech has evolved over the last two decades to influence almost every aspect our lives, the media company decided to expand its coverage and advice to what matters most in modern life – including money, home, wellness, culture and climate.

Collins’ brief was to turn CNET from a tech review site into an editorial-first brand known for its useful information and expertise, putting it alongside the raft of other news organisations that are placing renewed emphasis on trust, including the New York Times and the Guardian.

The new visual identity swaps the lower case sans serif logo that CNET had used for the past 30 years in favour of a more trim, custom serif wordmark inspired by editorial design from the so-called golden era of journalism.

In marketing CNET’s new approach, the studio leaned into bold surrealism with a series of striking artworks by Kentucky-based illustrator Robert Beatty. It has also introduced a slab serif typeface, Sentinel, and a new brand voice that seeks to make talking about the news more enjoyable.

ARC branding

ARC is a real estate partner geared towards organisations and institutions specialising in science and innovation. These companies are brought together in place-based groups, or Advanced Research Clusters, positioned in and around cities like London and Oxford.

To help put a new spin on the category, dn&co worked across ARC’s brand strategy, narrative, positioning, identity, and the name itself. The visual identity centres on the ‘cluster’ concept and draws on mathematical graph theory to represent people, places and relationships.

The individual radial symbols might have gaps, but when layered they form a perfect ring, which “represents the assembled strength” of the different campuses within a network, says creative director Patrick Eley. It is complemented by chunky, condensed typography designed to “reflect the power of the cluster ecosystem”.

B&Q poster campaign

Shot by photographer James Day, who is known for his work for the New York Times, New Yorker and Wallpaper, the new B&Q ads are simple yet beautiful.

Each features a mobile phone with a B&Q product bursting from it, including paint, a roll of wallpaper and a bloom of flowers. The only text accompanying this is the brand’s web address, which alongside the image of the phone is enough to send home the message that you can order all these products digitally.

McDonalds BIN IT

This campaign is Belgium’s take on the theme, created by TBWA, which puts bins centre stage. “We want to make trash bins as popular as the burgers,” says Jeremie Goldwasser, creative director at TBWA.

The campaign, which will run on posters, social and in McDonald’s restaurants across Belgium, puts the spotlight on rubbish bins, bathing them in light and pairing them with witty copy.

“We asked Studio Wauters – McDonald’s’ permanent food photographer – to photograph the trash bins,” continues Goldwasser. “The challenge? Making bins look just as attractive and tempting as their burgers. We then applied the typical copywriting and design expertise to the bins, resulting in appetising design and quirky names such as the Big Bin, the Bin Deluxe and the Bin Royal.”

JKR redesigns Magnolia Bakery

First set up on Bleeker Street in New York’s West Village in 1996, Magnolia Bakery played a significant role in the boom in popularity for cupcakes in the 90s, which has endured pretty much ever since.

After experiencing a pop culture moment when Carrie and Miranda were shown chatting about their love lives over cupcakes from the store in season three of Sex in the City, the brand has expanded to other sites across the city, and the world, and now plans further growth as well as giving greater focus to its direct-to-consumer business.

To mark these developments, JKR has created a new brand identity, which draws on Magnolia Bakery’s original, somewhat whimsical styling though refines it for more coherence, especially in digital.

“The new logo is inspired by the bakeshop’s trademarked cupcake swirl – which takes up to 40 hours to perfect! – and the live theatre of the bakery; mixers spinning vanilla cake batter, cupcakes being iced and banana pudding being scooped.” says JB Hartford, group creative director at JKR.

The updated core brand colour is inspired by the iconic green of the bakery’s walls, while other colours are drawn from its desserts and colourful sprinkles. 

The brand’s West Village roots are still firmly evident in illustrations, though the wider system allows the brand to grow across different channels, particularly digital. Magnolia Bakery will roll out the new design elements over the coming months, beginning with its digital platforms, followed up by packaging and store refreshes. The brand will also continue to add new products to the D2C channel in the coming months.

A tale of two halves

Founded in 1936, electrical appliances brand Morphy Richards has been a staple of many British homes for the best part of 100 years. Yet its brand vision hadn’t necessarily translated as it expanded around the world.

“Morphy Richards is historically a British brand that over the years has grown globally. As this growth happened, the meaning of the brand became inconsistent across markets. From the UK, to China, to Australia, what Morphy Richards stood for became diluted and as a result there was no longer a clear and consistent message,” explains Otherway founder Jono Holt.

Tasked with helping the business “see fundamental change”, Otherway set about identifying the brand’s point of view on the world and making it relevant to a new generation of consumers.

“The new wordmark is designed to capture the positive tension that has always sat at the heart of the business,” Holt explains. “The engineer and the salesman. The right brain and the left brain. The rational and the emotional. This juxtaposition of two personalities is represented in the differentiated fonts but somehow work in harmony.”

As our homes are set to remain a place of both work and play for many people, balancing feeling and functionality seems like a proposition that’s fit for the future.

Moniker rebrands crypto platform Coinbase

San Francisco-based agency Moniker has rebranded cryptocurrency platform Coinbase, aiming to reach a wider audience outside the “crypto crowd”.

Moniker was initially brought in to create a new logo, but it was soon apparent that there was “a larger need and opportunity for the visual identity system”, says Moniker creative director and founder Brent Couchman.

The rebrand was initiated at a time when Coinbase was experiencing massive growth, and according to Couchman, had become “the most trusted and easiest-to-use platform for the cryptoeconomy”, but its former identity didn’t match that position.

Coinbase briefed Moniker to create a new visual identity that would balance “the excitement and energy of this new financial world” while communicating trust and security. “To reach a wider audience, not just the typical crypto crowd, they needed a visual identity that built recognition for the brand but also allowed for a really wide range of expression to speak to new users,” says Couchman.

The designers looked to the idea of wayfinding and transit signage systems for inspiration, since the team’s early conversations had unearthed the idea of Coinbase being a ‘bridge’ between traditional finance and the cryptoeconomy. “This was really the core driver early on and gave us a shared language and set of filters to think about each piece of the identity,” says Couchman. Another key concept behind the new identity was the idea that crypto is no longer a futuristic entity, but something tangible and real that can be used right now. “This also fed into the wayfinding concept, that the system needed to be immediate and grounded — not something too abstract that could potentially get in the way for users who were new to the space,” he adds.

The new icon is instantly recognisable as a ‘C’ and a coin, again conveying simplicity and accessibility. “We didn’t want people to have to work to get it, just like using the product,” says Couchman. The blue colour palette of the previous identity was retained to aid identifiability and the brand’s equity; and Moniker introduced a secondary palette to give the branding more flexibility as it grows into new markets and introduces new sub brands.

The new Eames Institute of Curiosity 

Through exhibitions and other programming, as well as a new magazine called Kazam!, it hopes to “equip everyone with the lessons of Ray and Charles Eames, so that anyone can use design to solve problems”, as the Institute explains on its website.

The organisation will be responsible for the Eames Ranch in Petaluma, California, as well as the Eames Collection – which includes furniture, photographs and artworks created by Charles and Ray Eames.

See the brand in action

Manual thoroughly immersed itself in the pair’s work while creating the organisation’s branding. The project was two years in the making, and saw the studio spend time at the Petaluma ranch, delving into the Eames Collection and the personal archive of chief curator Llisa Demetrios – the couple’s granddaughter.

“We set out to approach the project with the same sense of curiosity and inclusivity that Ray and Charles demonstrated in their approach,” Manual writes on its website.

The identity revolves around what Manual describes as “the curious e” – a dramatically curving letter that feels like it embodies all the same mid-century charm as the Eames’ own work. “The monogram has the ability to shift its gaze in order to observe its context, emphasise content, and carry on the Eames’ legacy of spirited discovery,” writes the studio.

Typography was directly inspired by the archive, with the Eames’ use of News Gothic in film titles prompting sans serif Topol Bold, which is paired with the serif Century Schoolbook.

For Them launches new identity inspired by nature

For Them, a queer wellness brand currently selling a range of chest binders, has launched a new typography-led visual identity inspired by nature.

Created by art director and designer Alex Pankiv Greene alongside For Them creative director Kate Vozella, the new branding looks to represent the expansiveness of the community that forms its audience. “When For Them launched last year it was a shot in the dark creating an aesthetic for the queer audience that has been almost entirely unserved until now,” says founder Chloe Freeman. 

The team chose to focus the new designs around nature, “where authentic fluidity, evolution and expansiveness are already present”, as Freeman puts it. This plays out across a suite of icons taking their shapes from elements in the natural world, each representing one of nine ‘dimensions of wellness’, such as ‘nourish’, ‘transcend’, ‘bloom’ and ‘belong’.

The new branding abandons the former look’s pink and purple, and instead looks to make the colour palette more bold and expansive and move away from colours traditionally associated with being feminine.

The logo uses a wordmark alongside a triple heart symbol which can be used in any of the seven For Them brand colours, which include a blue-green, mustard yellow, pink and red, and aim to form a rainbow spectrum that’s bold and inclusive. “The double typography with the three-heart symbol encapsulates the idea of ‘nature in full bloom’ providing the movement, expansion, and weight the brand deserves,” says Freeman.

Wolff Olins identity for DailyPay

First revealed last May, the updated identity revolves around the idea that DailyPay is “flipping the system” with regards to acccessing earnings. It’s reflected in a symbol that doubles as a sun peeking behind the horizon and a coin dropping into a slot. The two interpretations are joined together in an animated execution, in which the sun motif flips over to reveal the coin.

The colour palette has been updated from light blue to a sunny orange, and a new custom typeface has also been introduced. The type design, called Horizon, evokes the main symbol through the elongated serifs, exaggerated hooks and the full stop.

DailyPay animated logotype designed by Wolff Olins