Fuseproject’s simpler, cleaner design language for Nivea is a vast improvement on many levels, but the kerning on that logo is going to annoy a lot of you…
Previous Nivea logo, developed by Interbrand in 2009
The Nivea brand, now owned by Beiersdorf, has a great heritage, so it was natural for Yves Béhar’s fuseproject team to look to it when given the task of creating “a new, unique and innovative design language that embodies the Nivea brand values”. According to fuseproject, Nivea’s problems included “disjointed packaging forms [see above], various different brand expressions and a series of disconnected graphic languages [see Nivea logo variations above]. They had no cohesive design language to guide their various engagements, which led to a diluted overall brand and a confusing experience for their customers.” The brand was looking for consistency but also to simplify the number of different packaging forms it uses.
For the graphics, fuseproject looked to the classic blue Nivea face cream tin, which had been on the market since 1925 (see above). “Our early thinking was to reduce the complexity of the current form languages, edit the numerous packaging types to a minimum set and eliminate the proliferation of logo variations and typographic expressions,” fuseproject say. “We believe simplifying the Nivea visual language offers a stronger and clearer expression of the brand values. We based the design and graphic language on solid ground: the heritage tin and its classic white Bauhaus-era lettering. By harkening back to a pervasive brand icon such as the blue tin, the new designs, while offering a fresh, forward facing look for the brand, is also anchored in the company’s rich history. With this new brand expression, Nivea has a new face without losing any of its essential Nivea-ness.”
But this was not just a graphics exercise. Fuseproject also addressed the packaging forms themselves, looking not just to improve their branding but also to make them more efficient and address sutainablity issues. On the former point, fuseproject explains tht “The overall design language is also anchored in the circular logo. Caps and closures are rethought in the blue Nivea color, with the redesigned logo embossed on the material …To increase shelf presence and recognition, the bottles’ symmetrical 3D forms have wide bases for stability, with a pure geometry that joins the closures as perfect circles. Top areas [are] angled to face the customer, a gentle slope reminiscent of a hand offering a service. This both embeds the new Nivea logo to the bottle in a prominent, physical way, while engaging the consumer from the very beginning.”
These new shapes, fuseproject claim, “creates new efficiencies within the company … the geometry of the new design allows for improved functionality and less material used overall, by up to 15%. The weight reduction of the packaging is combined with a label reduction of 23% (by switching to a different material and liner). The bottles are optimized for shipping, packing tighter and saving 12,600 pallets and 585 tons of CO2 per year. These are contributing to the overall 2020 goals of Beiersdorf to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% per product. In addition, all materials used are fully recyclable and all formulas have an average of over 80% non-fossil ingredients.”
According to Beirsdorf’s Ralph Gusko “Around two-thirds of all purchase decisions are made at the shelf. The new Nivea design’s high recognition value will make it easier for consumers around the world to find the Nivea products they are looking for. The consistent design language across all channels – from product packaging, through point of sale to advertising – also increases consumer identification with the brand and encourages them to additionally use products in other categories.”
Here, Behar talks to Design Boom about the project
All of which sounds like a job well done. Fuseproject have delivered an elegant, visually strong and relevant solution that also creates real benefits for the company both in terms of cost savings and sustainability by the sounds of it. In stripping away the clutter and allowing the brand’s strongest visual ‘asset’ to shine through, it reminds me somewhat of the highly successful Coca-Cola work done by Turner Duckworth. Perhaps we are going to see more such visual simplification from big brands.
But we have to address that big old typographic elephant in the room: the kerning.
Usually when we report on big, complex projects and all commenters can do is ignore everything else and moan about kerning it drives me mad, but even I have to admit that the space between the N and I looks distinctly odd. In fact the whole thing, when blown up big, is decidedly idiosyncratic. The elongated points of the N, V and A aren’t helping – the N and the V actually extend below the other characters. But here’s the conundrum. If this is the original mark, do you mess with it? This is supposed to be about heritage after all. Yes it’s odd, and no doubt maddening to designers, but it also has character. Clean it up and you risk losing that. Within a scheme that has elsewhere stripped everything back to a minimum, perhaps the mark needs that quirkiness?
We asked Yves Béhar about the decision. “What we found out in our research, is that the typography, and its idiosyncratic kerning, were signature design elements added by the designer who did the original word mark,” he says. “The team at Nivea and fuseproject agreed that it is a heritage element, a fingerprint of sorts we should keep rather than smooth out. As many did before us, we ultimately let it rest…”
Which leads to an interesting question for any designer involved in such a project – do ‘character’ and ‘personality’, both very valuable assets for a brand, lie in imperfection? And when is it best to just “let it rest”?
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