North creates rebrand for global insurance group Howden

The studio was brought in to help unify the brand’s consumer and corporate offerings, but also help it stand out from its many competitors

As one of the largest insurance groups in the world, Howden employs 15,000 people across 50 countries. Having grown to look after both corporate and consumer clients, the group was keen to unite the business so it has brought in London-based studio North to create a new brand identity.

North worked with Howden’s in-house brand and marketing team to understand what the business needed. It was important for the rebrand to capture “the scale of the firm’s operations for millions of clients”, by creating a fresh and dynamic visual approach.

In the UK, Howden has added a consumer retail arm to the business, meaning its insurance brokers now offer consultancy and advice to the public. This meant that North was responsible for the creative concept and direction of the 120-branch network, both inside and out.

The biggest change to Howden’s branding is the logotype. Previously different shades of blue and mostly plain, the logo now bucks the trend of its competitors by using chunky letterforms that blend together to create a distinct wordmark. This was not just to bring together its global broking operations under one name, but also to differentiate itself from other ‘Howden’-named businesses in other sectors.

The logotype also has a “transparent lens” as an added element, to signify how “insurance is always there but invisible”. Imagery of wind farms in the North Sea and cyber security can be seen through the logotype, to emulate the layer of protection it offers.

For typography, North used Swiss foundry Grilli Type’s GT Ultra to reflect the “personality of the business” as it combines a classical serif type with a modern sans. Friendly illustrations also add a touch of warmth to the identity.

For colour, as the brand exists in different spaces, the team deliberately avoided “sombre colour tropes of the sector” and instead developed a “warm and human” palette.

Hues of green and khaki with bright tones of red and blue feature to create unexpected pairings and again to sit in contrast to the typically monochrome approach of the brand’s competitors.