Cargo Creative Written by

Looking Back to Move Forward

Posted on 5th July, 2016 in Brand, Design

Rebranding can bring forth all sorts of contentious opinions not just in the design community, but the general public at large. They show up on social media and design blogs and it seems you never can please everybody. So what happens then when a brand brings back branding from the past?

Most people think a rebrand is just about coming up with a new swanky logo. A logo that will bring the brand out of the dark ages and push it into this new digital age. Sometimes it’s not so much of a complete overhaul but more of a facelift that is needed, applying some of that fancy anti-ageing cream, if you will.

This technique of revitalising your brand rather than completely overhauling is something that a lot of big name brands have done recently. One way of modernising your brand is to look back on its history and bring the heritage that is already recognised back to the forefront of the brand. This might seem ironic, but it makes sense. People already have an attachment to that specific brand, so a return to familiarity is often welcomed. To show this, I wanted to go through a few of them big names to show that looking back in a fast paced world of technology isn’t a bad thing and show clients that “brand new” isn’t always the way.

Re-examining an old brand definitely shows how much consideration goes into a rebrand or an update. Exploring a company’s past to inform the design of its future and taking elements of a previous brand is just as much a risk as taking the brand in a completely different direction. Looking back doesn’t always mean taking an old logo and tweaking it a little. But in some cases it’s actually all you need to do.

The Co-op have recently revived an old logo from the late 60’s - early 70’s. They took the basic logo and gave it a small refresh, something that will accompany a change in their membership offering. For the Co-op it has been perfect. They have deep roots in British history and their old logos bring back many nostalgic memories for some.

Reading through some articles about the rebrand and why they took the plunge going back to an older logo a few phrases really stood out in the reasoning behind the rebrand. They explained the old branding as a “Trust Mark”, “Timeless Classic” and a “Passion Brand”. The decision to re-brand back to the old ways seems to be hinged on bringing back that idea of trust and loyalty which they feel they haven’t brought with them with their wordy “The Cooperative Group” brand.

The rebrand has just taken place and has to be rolled out to every inch of the organisation; from delivery vans to corporate documents through to uniforms and shop fronts, which will take time to implement. So in terms of whether or not the rebrand has paid off it's hard to tell but in my personal opinion it is definitely a step in the right direction, reconnecting with the values of old and its customers and to be honest I like the design. It is clean and simple and the colour scheme really works for me. I'm curious to see what direction will be taken with future advertising campaigns. It's something I want to keep my eye on so I can see how they approach this 'new but old' re-branding outside of their visual materials.

One way of modernising your brand is to look back on its history and bring the heritage that is already recognised back to the forefront of the brand.


Budweiser is another company that has recently updated their brand and packaging. They focused on their 140 year heritage and how, before everything became digital, they used to produce their branded materials, using typographers, art directors, and letterers, when everything had to be done by hand.

They came to the conclusion that, with everything being digitised, it feels like it loses the detail and craftsmanship of doing it by hand. Obviously Budweiser hasn’t told their digital agencies that they aren’t allowed to use their Macs but that they want the same detail and craftsmanship to be felt throughout the brand. They created a clean detailed branding that oozes the beer’s heritage while keeping up with these technological times. While there has been backlash against some of the copy rebranding as they have brazenly renamed themselves ‘America’ for the summer. While it controversially plays up the patriotism aspect, which will be big this year with the Olympics and the American election, Budweiser are trying to cut through a relatively noisy beer market and remind people that they are ‘The King Of Beers’.

There are plenty of other recent examples of big names looking back to their history, from DC Comic’s recent rebrand to a whole host of NBA teams, most notably the Sacramento Kings have all took influence from their past. Whether the decision to look back is because a brand feels like it is losing touch with its heritage or whether they think they just need a refresh but not a full re-brand, I have came to the conclusion that although many people may say to “never look back”, I feel it always has its place in design.

Even if you don’t use the same design, a lot can be brought from the past to shape the future. So whether you’re a client or a designer when it comes to your next re-branding project don’t forget to look back to inform you on making the next step forward.

Co-op restructures, rebrands and revives 1968 logo

Budweiser rebrands as 'America' in lead-up to US election

Designers react to the new DC Comics logo

Back to Blog