Earlier this week, the office supply store, Staples, rolled out a new logo and visual identity for the first time since its start nearly 35 years ago. By following a few current trends, the once outdated logo gives the retail store a breath of fresh air with subtle updates that feel appropriate for a brand in the present day rather than a logo found next to a fax machine from the 80’s.
The Original Logo
To preface this post, I must admit that I don’t hate the original Staples logo. Perhaps it’s the fact that this logo has remained unchanged for longer than I’ve been alive. But nostalgia aside, there aren’t really any terrible flaws with this logo, just a few things to take note of.
For starters, the old logo is shown in all caps. The letters feel very similar to those in the Helvetica typeface, which is just about as generic as it gets. The “L” in the wordmark includes a bend at the top to create the illusion that the letter is made from a staple, which is perhaps the most redeeming element of the logo. To me, the subtle clever changes to letters and typography that help convey the meaning of the word they create are one of the reasons why I love design. Sure, it doesn’t make sense that the top of the staple is bent while the bottom is out straight, but once you read the word, you instantly know that the letter is in fact a staple.
As for the rest of the logo design, there’s not much to say as it is fairly simple. The single-colored logo is made up of a bold red that grabs your attention and conveys a sense of urgency to “buy now”. The letter spacing is extremely tight, however the logotype as a whole creates a nice boxed shape, which is convenient for using the logo in just about place and any medium. It’s not bad, but there’s always room for improvement.
The New Logo
The new logo for Staples doesn’t stray too far from the original, and yet it manages to give a fresh look and feel to the brand that had remained basically unchanged for 35 years. Because the brand is easily recognized by the color red, it makes sense that the logo remains the same hue and kept only one color. The typeface remains sans serif, however the letters are now seen in camel case rather than all caps. While this is a common design trend for logo redesigns in the past few years, it’s refreshing to see a sans serif rebrand that doesn’t go straight to the default geometric sans serif typeface (which I touch on more in these other posts: Slack, Dropbox, Taco Bell, Green Mountain, and Google). The terminal of the “t” that sticks out towards the “a” as well as the small spur on the bottom right of the “a” are subtle typographic choices that give the logotype personality and let it stand out from other logo redesigns that have stripped everything down to the bare minimum.
And of course, the most noticeable difference in the new logo is the staple icon that stands before the logotype. Rather than incorporating the staple into the wordmark, the icon now stands alone, which gives the opportunity to be used on its own in promotional materials. With both together, the logo is a lot wider than the original. This, combined with the choice to only capitalize the first letter, makes the word is a lot easier to read. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. Again, the original logo was so familiar to me that it was a bit of a shock to see something else in its place. But like any other logo redesign, once I’ve given the proper time to reflect on the changes that have been made, I can clearly understand the reasoning behind them. The new logo definitely gives the brand a fresh look that feels more current without straying too far from the brand they’ve established so far.
Overall, the full logo has a lot more breathing room and I think it has good potential. When I first saw the new staple icon, I felt as if there could have been something more to it, but I wasn’t quite sure what it needed. The promotional videos (shown below) are a great example of how the motif of the staple icon could be used to create other icons and convey the full scope services they offer. That filled the void of what I thought was missing. The consistency of this motif throughout the other branded materials is probably my favorite part of the new design.
Used together as a full logo, or just as a staple icon, the new Staples brand opens the door to a lot of possibilities as to how their brand is used and perceived by the public. Considering that a lot of Staples stores have closed near me, it’s nice to know that the office supply company is making positive changes to their brand to stay afloat.