Today we’re here to analyze the work of a Stockholm, Sweden based agency named BrittonBritton.
Particularly, we’re here to focus on the development of the corporate identity that the studio did for Stadsauktion, a subsidiary auction house under Stockholms Auktionsverk that, with 337 years on its back, it’s said to be the oldest auction house in the world.
Let’s start with the bad side of this identity – that unfortunately is the crucial point – the logo. What’s wrong with it? Lack of personality.
The wordmark is built using a somehow squarely-formed sans-serif (the O contrasts quite a bit with its curves, certainly not an ugly point); with these characteristics, the logo conveys sensations such as force, fierce, clean, objectivity, stability, respect. All used in conjunction with a loose kerning, to make it friendlier and welcoming the observer/client.
I’d also like to say that such a treatment would be perfect to an audience formed mainly by men, from their late thirties to sixties. Don’t really know if it was their scope.
Anyway, it’s all to improve the face of an auction house, nothing wrong with those choices.
So, reading what’s up there, you may assume that is a well designed logo – but wait a second before to clap your hands. The letter-space wasn’t crafted, it’s easy to guess that the word was just laid down in the software, enlarging it by default values, not giving real attention to the finer details and accentuations of the individual letters. This is mostly notable around the ‘AUK’ part, where your eyes will try to jump from character to character, always missing the target. The font itself is nothing special – one simple sans-serif , that fail to deliver the message. It’s way too neutral, you’ll easily forget it the moment you look away. The pairing with the tagline was well done (until the awkward form of the last one, pretty unreadable), it’s unfortunate that they did not choose to revert that – I mean, tagline contrasted-serif for the logo, sans-serif for the tagline. That would have made the logo and the consequent brand way more memorable.
So, one quick resume of the logo’s problems: unimaginative, easy-to-look-away from typeface, kerning done poorly. Enough of the criticism, let’s start building together something better. Looking at the scope of the project and the client, to me seems easy to focus on prestige and history of the mark – and that’s exactly what BrittonBritton did. They unfortunately forget a really important thing, the fact that Stadsauktion was rebranding after so many years because they recently launched their digital auction house, a brave and well thought move.
Of course, speaking about redesigning, we’re doing just a quick concept of the logo, not the whole identity, as that project would take too much time. Doing so will also allow you readers to take your own conclusions. That said, back to work.
The logo really needs a more developed font, something that can also relate to an old history embracing new opportunities and technologies. That’s why, with a quick bit of research, I decided to retain a sans-serif choice, with a vintage feel, as it would show the perfect connubial between old and modern, nonetheless presenting a great memorability.
The newly designed wordmark takes care of a lot of the aforementioned issues – where the BrittonBritton design failed. It’s a modern, solid sans-serif with edges and tight, handmade kerning. It goes for an exclusive, high-end feeling, while not losing a base of friendliness with a lot of curves, especially in the K (of course those are to study and modify better than the example provided here, which is a quick solution.) The letter designs were inspired by the late 19th century headlines, bringing an ancient evocative feeling to the table, but with a modern twist, like the removal of the A’s crossbars – making the wordmark one solid choice, with a respectable, trustful anchor in the past but with a nice twist, heading toward the future.
A modern link that was well expressed as a need inside the brief, as the principal motivation of this rebranding, but that was sadly missed by the agency – not only on the logo, but on the brand materials as well. In fact, materials and colours used are all in remembrance of an old, tactile world, (a lot of wood and earthy tones, in conjunction with a lot of cardboard), but nothing more modern, as the whole stationery is made to be touched and enjoyed just in an analog way. Also, the brand materials look well crafted, the logo is applied coherently within the entire set (but it also miss white horizontal space in every application, especially notable on the bags), but it all seems to suffer from the poorly designed logotype, giving the branding one cheap, down-to-earth appearance, nothing that anyone would want for his brand, especially one 337 years old prestigious institution.
It has been a long journey , discerning how one lifetime occasion could go wasted and why. But that’s life and you know, life is tough.