Contributed by Mark Bloom, creative director at London-based Mash Creative.
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The current Royal Mail logo (PDF) looks somewhat outdated now, our aim was to design a modern classic that would remain timeless and fresh for years to come.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mash Creative would like to say a special thank you to Shazia and Jon at ICON magazine.