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Look beyond what you see

There are numerous strategies to approach a branding problem statement & one of them is using history as our guide to direct the identity creation process. Once the brand values have been laid down, we have to literally use Rafiki’s (the wise baboon from The Lion King) advice - Look beyond what you see to build a brand story. This can be done by digging deep into the brand values & associating them with historical elements like ancient art, stories, etc.

Akzo - Logo used in 1969
Akzo - Logo used in 1969, letter 'A'.

Akzo(now AkzoNobel) is a Dutch paint & chemical company that was formed after the merger of two large Dutch companies Algemene Kunstzijde Unie(AKU) and Koninklijke Zout Organon(KZO). It used an ‘A’ as its brand identity when the company was formed in 1969.

AkzoNobel - Logo used from 1994-2008, man with outstretched arms.

That changed to a man with outstretched arms when Akzo became AkzoNobel in 1994. What was the significance of doing so? Akzo used a Greek bas-relief from a British Museum to represent their brand. The man with the outstretched arms represents an icon of art & science & also reflects the qualities of ‘striving & achievement.’ The original identity was developed by Wally Olins, Chairman of Saffron Consultants, in collaboration with Martijn Rijven, an Amsterdam-based illustrator and designer, more than 20 years ago.

AkzoNobel - Logo revamped in 2008, Bruce was given a new look & purpose

The visual identity was revamped in 2008 when Bruce (the man with the outstretched arms) was given a new look. The current identity is welcoming, energetic & at the same time, shows readiness for future challenges to match their tagline ‘Tomorrow’s Answers Today’.

The brand identity of AkzoNobel has nothing to do with any Greek mythological stories, but the ancient sculpture helped Akzo to show their brand values in an effective way.

Guiding references:

[1] “Branding - In Five And A Half Steps”, by Michael Johnson

[2] “What is AkzoNobel?”, https://npokennis.nl/longread/7550/wat-is-akzo-nobel

[3] “Revamping Bruce”, https://saffron-consultants.com/case-studies/akzo-nobel

[4] “AkzoNobel Logo”, https://1000logos.net/akzonobel-logo/

[5] “Annual Report 1978”, Akzo, https://www.akzonobel.com/content/dam/akzonobel-corporate/global/en/investor-relations-images/result-center/archive-annual-reports/1979-1969/Akzonobel-annual-report-1978.pdf

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