A Brief Tribute to Good Brand Naming



I think I’ve mentioned before how choosing a good name for your brand is just as valuable as the logotype designed for it. An example of this is This Old House.

At first, one might think the use of the word “old” in the name would cause the brand to sound antiquated, which is usually negative in our progressive world. But then the word “house” drops in immediately afterward and puts the whole name into perspective.

If you’ve ever searched for housing, I’m sure words like “Victorian” have piqued your interest. For starters, it’s very surreal to envision yourself living in a house that has stood for close to two centuries. The craftsmanship was different then, the design style has been long-since buried; unless such a house has been renovated, living in it would be quite an interesting experience—like stepping back in time.

Needless to say, there’s definitely an attraction to these kinds of estates. Even if you can’t afford a Victorian-era home, a mid-20th century home falling into some disrepair can also be an alluring investment.

People love to fix up old homes while endeavoring to maintain whatever history it is that defines them. This Old House has aimed, through various forms of media, to provide a solid source of information on the subject of home improvement and remodeling. Theirs is a name that causes the hearer to reflect on what it might be like to purchase a classic fixer-upper and spend several years pleasurably bringing it back to its former splendor. Since the name caters to people’s desire to restore older homes, I’m confident many would be willing to see what This Old House can offer them on their journey.

Beside all this, the name sounds like the chorus of a folk song, or perhaps the title of a poem.

All these things work together to paint a picture that has great potential to connect with viewers and readers.

The logotype is very simple; but as is often the case, whenever the brand name has great intrinsic value, the best approach to the logo is that of simply letting the word, words or phrase be as they are—unique, memorable, thought-provoking—while keeping design elements to a minimum. Sometimes a brand name is strong enough to carry a lot of retaining value without the need for additional visual attraction. A good designer will recognize when this is the case and let the name speak for itself; generally not adding any symbols, providing only a strong wordmark.

I make it a point to analyze little details such as this because that’s what designers do. So it may seem as though I pulled a lot out of a little. But I think it’s important to recognize and appreciate when a name really says something, especially for those who want to come up with something long-lasting.

A brand name, like its logo, can really help the brand stay alive and, to me, This Old House is a prime example.

Nivea Rebranded


In my opinion, this rebrand is the most effective out of the ten listed in Business Insider’s The 10 Best Corporate Logo Changes of 2013.

Before I go any further: no, I’m not going to discuss the kerning—at least not at length.  I’m very particular about kerning (sometimes detrimentally so), but in the case of Nivea the obvious gaps do appear to serve a purpose.  Specifically, the chasm between the “N” and “I” serves to equalize the wordmark by compensating for the unavoidable gap between the “E” and “A”.  Oftentimes I see designers enter the Colosseum over things they would or wouldn’t have done to a logo.  Really, we can all debate til we’re blue in the face but, unless it’s a situation like Gap’s redesign that met an unfortunate, early demise, the fact remains: the company liked the logo enough to choose it and put it on its products, and the designer went to the bank!

Moving on…

Richard Feloni states,

Nivea…cleaned up its logo for a rebranding. The circle is a reference to the cold cream tins that made the brand famous, and due to the surface area it takes up on packaging, makes Nivea products stand out on store shelves.

I might add that if you look at the old logo, it definitely hints of the metallic, shiny accent that many brands go for in the cosmetic product lines.  Suave, Noxzema and Dove on one product or another all maintain a similar appearance with their metallic gradients and accent lines.  They do give the desirable look of rich, clean and fresh, but that’s just it: they all basically say the same thing.  Differentiation is key, and a good idea remains a good idea only as long as it’s unique.

As to how it looks on the shelves, the product presentation shown above reveals the brand’s commitment to an even simpler appearance than it already had.  The descriptive text has been uncluttered, which, combined with the bold new logo, makes for an attractive first glance.

Nivea made an excellent move here not only by giving the logo more surface area as mentioned by Mr. Feloni, but also by breaking the mold of an overused theme.

R-illy Good


I really like this logo and wanted to share some thoughts about it.

First off, let’s see how this logo relates to the summary of the business it identifies.  Illy makes this statement on its website,

The illy story is rich in innovation, borne of a scientists [sic] curiosity, and artists [sic] feel for beauty, and a coffee purists [sic] quest for ultimate quality and pleasure in the cup.

If you don’t get sick from all the sics I inserted for lack of apostrophes and somewhat ambiguous sentence structure, you’ll notice that the description doesn’t have obvious ties to the logo.  The strongest links I see between the visual identity and the company’s written identity quoted above is “artist” and use of the color red: the letters give the impression of an artist’s brush strokes and the red is bold, like the taste of good coffee.

Here we have a classic and time-tested method: creating a logo that doesn’t really convey much about the business; yet it represents the business regardless—even powerfully so.  It’s attractive and memorable so it successfully serves its purpose.  Personally, I’d wear it on a plain, white t-shirt and if I had it on one of my coffee mugs, it’d be the mug of choice every morning.  If I’d be willing to do those things, I’d also be willing to look for it in a coffee shop or convenience store.

Perhaps this logo’s biggest achievement is that it ties in well with coffee-culture.  The light-hearted, warm and artsy feel goes right along with the sensation that all good coffee brands endeavor to give–all without using coffee beans and cups.