PayPal has unveiled a redesigned brand identity from Fuse Project which the company describes as “less a dramatic shift from what was, and more a modernising of what’s always been”
In 2012 we wrote about the way in which the major digital start-ups have changed their identities as they grow. Quirky, almost amateur-ish marks are progressively smartend up and straightened out as fancy offices replace back bedrooms and borrowed desk space. And some of the personality that made these brands attractive in the first place is perhaps lost along the way.
PayPal has become the latest major digital player to go through such a process as it unveils a new identity, although the company claims that it was attempting to avoid looking like the establsihment in doing so. “What do you do when a brand that entered the world as an innovator starts to look like the establishment it once challenged? When a comprehensive visual audit of the brand confirms this truth, you decide it’s time for a redesign,” PayPal says in a press release.
Apparently, 33% of financial services brands use blue as a corporate colour, so while PayPal wanted to retain what has become a colour that most associate with them, it wanted to appear a little less conservative while doing so.
The new system, the company says “is built around 4 key elements: a stronger wordmark set in modified Futura, a new monogram of PayPal’s double Ps, more vibrant colours, and a dynamic angle graphic. The wordmark and the monogram together lock up for PayPal’s new signature.”
“Rethinking the logo of a financial institution is complex, as users need to feel the same trust and comfort with the new identity as they did with the old,” says FuseProject’s Yves Behar. “One of the main goals of PayPal’s redesign is to create a cohesive look and feel across the brand, while affirming the trust consumers already have in the company. With this in mind, fuseproject focused on strengthening existing, underutilised elements, as well as inventing something new and progressive.”
The type and word mark have been cleaned up
But perhaps more importantly for the brand, both FuseProject and PayPal stress the need for the new system to work effectively on mobile and wearable tech – the company appears to be betting that the latter wil be a big area of growth for it in future. Hence the mark is designed to work well at the size of a mobile phone home screen icon and incorporates the transparency used by many operating systems. Here’s how it will look on an iPhone and a Samsung Gear:
It also has to work at payment points in shops, like this:
An ad campaign by Havas Worldwide New York also accompanies the launch:
While this might not be the most exciting or wideranging brand identity you will see on this site, I think it’s interesting for the challenges it presents. As with the likes of Google, Ebay and Twitter, PayPal is a maturing business faced with the dilemma of reinforcing trust while attempting to retain some of the outsider status that made its name. As Behar says, the question for the design team led by David Marcus was “how do we achieve a transition that still allows people to recognize the brand, but move it forward with a strong push?”
The other interesting point for me is the affect that new devices and platforms are having on the way in which brands express themselves visually. If the most important aspect of your brand’s expression, the place where it absolutely has to work first and foremost, is as an icon on a smartphone homescreen, what does that mean for the way it looks? We used to talk a lot about how well a mark might reproduce in print, how many colours it used etc. And in the mock-ups that studios typically send us, identities often look at their most impactful and seductive on all those LiveSurface-generated tote bags and badges. But now, for many brands, the first concern is how a mark will work within operating systems over which the brand itself has little control.