Branding and identity design is probably one of the most challenging fields in the creative industry. Developing a powerful and dynamic identity is an essential step towards the success of the brand. Moreover, as technology advances and due to the changing perception and needs of the public, some of the most established brands in history have undergone different stages of evolution in terms of branding and identity.
Rebranding an iconic company who has established a strong image for so many years is a great challenge for designers of today’s generation. This opportunity was explored by Columbus-based graphic designer Justin Marimon who worked on an interesting project about re-conceptualizing a brand image of a large corporation along with its existing branding assets and products. Justin chose to rebrand National Geographic, one of the leading nature, science and history publishing companies which have established an iconic brand image for more than a century.
Redesigned Logo for National Geographic by Justin Marimon
Justin Marimon, a designer who focuses in interactive design and photography have created a new image for NatGeo as a large corporation along with its print, digital and advertising media. He introduces a modernized look and improved image of the established brand showcasing a more contemporary and image-driven identity which is appealing to younger generations.
You The Designer got the chance to talk to Justin and ask him few questions about how the project was conceptualized, the creative processes and some of his guiding principles throughout the project. Check out the short interview below:
YTD: National Geographic is one of the most established brands in history. What made you decide to use it for this rebranding project?
JUSTIN: My decision to tackle the rebranding of National Geographic was based on my personal belief that the brand was targeting the wrong market. I am a huge fan of the brand and the content they produce. Although, I feel like the entire brand is geared towards an older, more traditional, generation. My interpretation of the brand is that their main goal is to inspire people to take better care of the planet, to preserve its history and its future, and I believe that targeting a younger demographic is more fitting due to their ability to make change in the future.
YTD: Can you share us your creative process? From where did you start?
JUSTIN: My creative process was one which I follow on almost all of my projects.
Based on the assignment given in class, I researched a number of brands I’d like to tackle. This specific assignment was to choose any large brand and completely redesign its logo, stationary, and elements found within that brand. Once I narrowed down my choices and chose National Geographic, I spent a lot of time researching, gathering assets and inspiration and compiling what I found into a creative brief. Using this brief, I had a direction for the entire project going forward – to adjust the target audience of the brand using larger and more engaging imagery, and a simpler more modern brand image.
I started generating assets by sketching logo variations and several applications of those new logos. From there, I began creating the logo and applying it to simple stationary. From that point, every single element followed the standard that was laid out in the previous elements, and I knocked them out one-by-one to give you the completed project.
Some rough sketches and notes of Justin while working on redesigning the logo.
Early logo variations
YTD: What are your guiding principles while making the redesign?
JUSTIN: As stated above, I was guided by making the brand more intriguing to a younger, 20-35 year old, market. I did this by creating a more modern and consistent logo with contemporary typography, by using larger full-bleed photographs, and by creating a simple consistency that is easily recognizable. Throughout the entire project, it was also my strict goal to maintain the brand equity that National Geographic has spent over a hundred years establishing.
YTD: Give us a short summary of the changes you did in the present NatGeo branding to come up with this redesign.
JUSTIN: Changes included a simpler and more flexible logo, a simplified magazine cover, an image driven website, and a set of additional elements that built on all of these as a basis. I wanted the digital space to be more relevant and eye-catching and I wanted any printed elements to feature a consistent look which mirrors the digital assets.
YTD: The “cut off” in the bottom right corner of the design is interesting. What does it signifies in the overall branding?
JUSTIN: Deep within the heritage of the brand is the publication of National Geographic. The magazine has a rich history and is likely the most recognizable asset the brand has. When flipping through a magazine, I found that people are often intrigued and excited to get to the next page. Curling the edge of the paper to get a peak at what’s beneath is a core element to reading a magazine, especially one that is as image and content driven as National Geographic. This cut-out found throughout the brand is meant to symbolize this page-turn found in the traditional magazine. Even if the entire brand becomes digital content, that core idea of the page turn would remain as a core concept of the brand and its history.
YTD: The rebranding must be applicable across all channels of NatGeo, from magazines, websites, television, etc. Which among them is the most challenging for you?
JUSTIN: The most challenging part of this project was redesigning the magazine cover. While the finished product seems very simplistic, it took a lot of thought and adjustment to get to that point. I wanted to create a cover that was driven by the photograph – it’s all about the content. To do this, I wanted to make the photo full-bleed which meant getting rid of the iconic golden border. This was not a change to be taken lightly, as it carries an extreme amount of recognition for the publication. In order to keep that as a core element, I designed an extended golden spine which also became home to the typical ‘what’s in this issue’ sort of content. This reduces clutter, maintains a somewhat familiar appeal, and makes the content of the magazine king.
YTD: Are you willing to license this to NatGeo if they asked for it?
JUSTIN: Absolutely! I would be ecstatic to hear from National Geographic and would love to work with them on any level to contemporize their brand.
YTD: We’ve seen a lot of redesign projects in your portfolio. After NatGeo, what other major brands you wish to redesign?
JUSTIN: That’s a very tough question. There are so many brands that I love, and a lot that I’d love to work on. I’m a huge fan of technology brands as well as brands interested in conserving or planet, although there’s none I have specific plans of tackling at this point.
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