Royal Mail

Contributed by Mark Bloom, creative director at London-based Mash Creative.

Royal Mail logo

Mash Creative have just completed a ‘Rethink’ of the Royal Mail logo commissioned by ICON magazine as part of their ongoing feature.

To move forward, sometimes you need to look to the past. Brand identities seem to have a habit of becoming too complicated over the years. We wanted to take the Royal Mail logo back to basics whilst still retaining key elements of the original logo.

The current Royal Mail logo looks somewhat outdated now, our aim was to design a modern classic that would remain timeless and fresh for years to come.

In our opinion some of the most successful rebrands utilise what is already there — for us this meant stripping away anything that complicated the logo or was deemed to be unnecessary, very much a less is more style approach. The key elements of our rethink include a redrawn and simplified crown, updated logotype, removal of the rectangular holding devices and a softer colour palette. The overall layout and proportions of the crown and type remain pretty much the same.

Royal Mail logo

Our starting point for the Royal Mail rethink was the crown element. After some initial research we learnt that the crown used in the logo is based on the St. Edwards crown. When we looked at a photo of the St. Edwards crown it became apparent that the crown element currently used is not only inaccurate in shape but also the jewels on the arches appear to be too prominent.

Royal Mail logo

A question we asked ourselves was this: “How much can we remove from the crown without it becoming unrecognisable?” We decided by losing the jewels on the arch altogether this would help to simplify the crown shape and allow for the logo to be scaled down without loss of clarity. Early drafts did away with jewels at the base of the crown too but we later decided upon keeping them in to retain some of the crowns character. The final crown shape is a truer representation of the St. Edwards crown, the arch is more accurate and the smoother shape helps to compliment the logotype.

Royal Mail logo

Once the new crown had been drawn we went about tackling the logotype. The current logotype has been around for decades and is starting to show its age. We wanted to design a logotype that could grow old gracefully. In order to do this we designed our own font called RM Regular, this is a simple, clean and legible sans serif type that complements the crown marque. We initially tried the type in uppercase but eventually decided title case not only looked better but was also more in keeping with the existing identity. The letters ‘R’ and ‘M’ maintain some of the same characteristics of the existing logo to show evolution.

Royal Mail logo

The decision to use one prominent colour instead of several was a fairly easy one. Influenced by the colour scheme adopted by the GPO (General Post Office) around the second world war we finally decided upon a colour palette of faded red and parchment. The new simplified colour scheme looks soft, modern and distinctive.

Royal Mail logo

Mash Creative would like to say a special thank you to Shazia and Jon at ICON magazine.

Royal Mail logo

Also by Mash Creative is this 2011 calendar and the identity for S/O/T/O.

23 responses

  1. I echo Lee’s comment – is this genuine? It would be great if it was!

    One thing I’ll say is that the crown looks identical because of the distance between them in the post. Is there any chance of re-working the post slightly to include a BrandNew style Before:After shot? I know in some ways you want to be unique, but that would be amazing.

  2. I’ve updated the post to read:

    “Mash Creative have just completed a ‘Rethink’ of the Royal Mail logo commissioned by ICON magazine as part of their ongoing feature.”

  3. Looks really good. Simple, but classy and in line with the Mail’s branding.

    Unlike the Royal Mail of late, this delivers.

  4. I like this a lot, especially the color! Most designers see “royal” and are quick to throw purple in there somewhere. Great work again by Mash Creative :)

  5. Wow. Now this is an identity (well, a re-think in this case) that got me right away.

    I love the colour palette, the typeface, and the crown logo, it works so well. Its simple, clean, yet the crown element reminds me that they’re Royal.

    Mash Creative have definitely nailed this design, great job!

  6. Top marks for this one. It is still very obviously royal mail, yet it looks so much neater. I like the type too. It matches the simplicity of the new mark. Now if only the Royal Mail see this and adopt it, that would be brilliant!

  7. Although it’s great to ‘reimagine’ cornerstones of our heritage, and it’s great to see simplicity of application, sometimes it’s more appropriate to concentrate on the real issues surrounding heritage marks like the Royal Mail.

    The Royal Mail is about to be sold off.

    Maybe the private equity company who acquires the Royal Mail will want to implement this design, or maybe not, but by then it won’t really matter will it because we’ll just be talking about asset stripping and job losses …

  8. Nice concept brand refresh, simplified, considered and researched. The icon in particular is far better and more flexible than the current one. Would be great to see this developed further and in use.

  9. Thanks for all the positive feedback – It was a great project to work on. We wanted to treat this as a real brief so the logotype and font are fairly restrained so if it were real it wouldn’t look outdated in years to come. Overall we were happy with the finished product – just waiting for the phone call from Royal Mail to commision us – now that would be nice, Ha, Ha ;-)

    Cheers, Mark (Mash Creative)

  10. WOW! I love this “rethink”! Someone should really consider showing this to the big wigs at the Royal Mail. The simplicity is beautiful. This new logo would work at much smaller sizes and still keep its form. Looking at the Royal Mail website the current logo looks shocking at a small size.

  11. It would be interesting to find out how much Mash was paid for this. It seems like a hefty body of work to say it’s unlikely to be used.

    For me, it doesn’t work. I would’ve been tempted to simplify the existing typeface rather than change it totally. I also think the type has to be yellow. It’s a bit boring as it is.

  12. I’m going against the grain here, I think it’s alright, better than it was but ultimately lacking any personality. It’s incredibly corporate, very safe and, well, a tad boring.

    It’s difficult to judge without knowing what the brief was or the problem that Mash were trying to solve.

    If the brief was ‘simplify the Royal Mail’s identity’ for an article on simplicity then it’s perfect.

    But as an example of pushing the boat out, doing something different, challenging the status quo or ‘what would you do if you could redesign this identity given a blank sheet of paper’ it doesn’t deliver. It could have been fun, modern, witty, British, engaging, different, historic or all these things. But it isn’t.

  13. Going to echo Lee Newham & Clive Russell’s comments.

    I don’t get this brief. The Royal Mail is hardly in a position to outlay money on a re-brand. They have probably learnt their lesson with Consignia.

    Going back to the design. It’s a safe bet in my opinion. It doesn’t have enough impact. If that van whizzed by me in the street, I’d just think it was a normal red van.

    Put this brand against UPS, FedEx etc…. Is it strong enough? or is it just a diluted version of what already exists?

  14. Pentagram did some great (real) work for the Royal Mail a few months ago on their 2010 Yearpack. Both address the issue of brand, but in different ways. Interesting to compare the two approaches and how wildly the visual expressions differ.

    Arguably, what could bring this execution to life a bit more would be a vibrant visual language. What comes to mind is the work Studio Dumbar did for the Dutch Police. As it stands, there just don’t seem to be enough distinctive, ownable elements in this kit of parts.

  15. This is just beautiful!

    Wow, when you look at the current design it makes one retch by comparison.

    I think this is far stronger as an identity because it is bolder and clearer visually and I think the best thing it does is to give the brand colour greater prominence.

    I’d make the vans yellow and red though.

  16. Even if it is an elegant and interesting proposal I would say it would not work and I’ll try to clarify why.
    If we check the guidelines, page 4 we see the logo must be declined in a Welsh language version and a Scottish version. In the first case the mark changes its spelling and in the second case changes the symbol, the crown. So the only remaining element is the particular shape of the typography.
    From this point of view is the chosen typography strong enough to withstand these changes? I’m afraid it isn’t. :(

  17. Great work. Unfortunately Patrick James is incorrect about the boring font. The font is clean readable, goes well with the other design elements and should not be regarded as a boring typeface because, well, it’s not.

  18. I would prefer to see the crown with the dots for the pearls set around the top edge as really looks like something is missing.

    The typeface even though clean and readable, looks too harsh and clinical, like the ubiquitous Helvetica.
    With how you have given a fresh smooth look to the crown, Chevin Bold typeface would fit more appropriately with this design.

    To be honest Royal Mail’s current logo still works, the only thing that throws it off and looks dated is the current typeface in the center of their design.

  19. This identity makes the RM appear to be Dutch, or German, or any other European country. However, unlike our continental competitors the shallow curves, thin style characters and the kerning and the dead flat visual appearance provide a slightly submissive, almost weak subliminal message to anyone viewing it.

    In the age of digital wizardry in the graphics, art and communication industries such a simple, basic approach to redesigning a brand image we all see several times a day could be viewed as either retro – if you want to hark back to the days of letraset and hand rendering – or just dumb.

    Probably designed by a team of people who’s graduate work was designing the shop banner for Reggie Pertins Grot Shop.

    Overall this is an exceptionally poor example of an agency doing very little – except copy a thirty year old idea from Design Magazine – and charging a 6 figure sum for it.

    Does anyone have a spare square hoopla hoop they could let borrow?

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