Though most people failed to take notice or give a damn, ICI Pakistan shed its well-known Roundel logo and adopted a new brand identity, called the ‘Blue Pearl’, earlier this month. A little bit of background to understand why the rebrand was needed:
ICI Pakistan is a renowned chemical and paints company that was initially part of the iconic British Imperial Chemical Industries group, which in turn was part of Omircon OMV. In 2008, ICI got acquired by its Dutch rival Akzo Nobel. Coming to Pakistan, Akzo Nobel assumed control of the business in Pakistan but divested all but one (Paints) of the business units of ICI Pakistan.
Now these 4 orphan business units, namely Soda Ash, Polyester, Life Sciences and Chemicals, were adopted by the brotherly Yunus Brothers Group (Parent of Lucky Cement) in 2008. But. Akzo did not sell YBG the rights to use the Roundel logo. So YBG had to find a new logo for ICI and it was more a matter of necessity than choice.
Now that you know full well the entire backstory, let’s talk about the new rebrand.
The new logo, dubbed the ‘blue pearl’ is a swishy swirly globe spelling out ICI with its swirls, along with some possible figure shapes thrown in for good measure. Boring, uninspired, obvious. Swishy-globe logos are about as original and exciting as Pakistani morning shows. But just like the aforementioned, we Pakistanis seem to have an unfathomable fetish for globe logos. (See Mobilink’s rebrand). The typography also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s default, lazy and weak. The ‘ICI’ is sandwiched between the prominent globe and a longish ‘Pakistan’, and fails to get any limelight. At the very least, the text should have been broken down into two lines which would have given ample focus to both ICI and Pakistan and would have also provided better visual balance with respect to the globe.
Another misstep in this rebrand is the decision to retain the characteristic Akzo Nobel typography (see above). The bold, colorful and tightly tracked Helvetica is a prominent feature of the Akzo Nobel brand and it is absurd to keep it intact when you’re clearly trying to establish your own distinctive identity. Not to mention that it’s at total odds with the typeface used in the logo, Gotham.
Amid these missteps, the supporting graphics and theme images are a rather nice element, even if they’re a bit too blue. The website, done by Creative Chaos, is also slick and snappy and overall very well designed.
All in all, this rebranding is a mixed bag. There was the opportunity to deliver something much better but then again it could have been much worse. We’re taking about a huge-ass- Pakistani- industrial chemicals- company, remember?
The logo is done by Karachi-based D’Hamidi Partnership who seem to be the agency of choice for rebrands in Pakistan, despite their overwhelmingly lackluster work. They were involved in the Mobilink rebrand, y’know.
By Najwat Rehman
Title image from ICI website.
I think it should be clear by now that Corporate Pakistani clients are generally not risk takers. And when it comes to re-branding globally renowned iconic identities, the management of any such concern will veer towards what is safer but strategically sound.
But your blog isn’t one of these tier-laden, conservative, multi-billion rupee mammoths? So why are the principles of great design that you espouse missing from your visual discourse?
Please don’t get me wrong. Your blog is a valuable addition to the conversation. But the self-inflated, thoughtless dribble is not. And your design sense? Clearly not.
May be you should, as an exercise, offer the branding of your ‘dynamite’ logo to the agencies you decry. Only then should you be the judge and jury.
But, until then, try to gauge an opinion from those that did the buying and the selling. Not from those that do the interfering.
— An Insider (obviously).
I think that logo is evolved well….
It’s the next best step to break the circle and free up the ici poeple…
FANTASTIC LOGO!! I think you forgot to “See” that the figure’s head in the logo can also double for the pearl in the oyster — so even more reason to ‘cultivate’ growth the way pearls are cultivated pearls. Nice idea. Smart, I feel>>