The Grommet Logo Refresh: Behind The Scenes

Marie-Eve Tremblay
Dec 19, 2019 · 5 min read

Iconic logos are timeless and never change, right? Wrong. In fact, the most popular and influential logos you can think of have been redesigned many times over the years. Surprising, isn’t it? But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense: a logo created in 1942 is probably not going to speak to customers in 2020. Organizations need to keep up with not only changing their policies and products but also by polishing and modernizing their visual identity. The Grommet is no exception.

We loved the logo that Aaron Belyea created for us in 2013 and it has served us well for many years. However, the evolution of our product catalog in tandem with the changing digital landscape made realignment a necessity. With a rebrand and website redesign underway, we had the perfect opportunity to reevaluate our logo. I was the lead designer on this project and here’s a look at how it came together.

Before (top) / After (bottom)

The Brief

The top priority was modernizing the logo. The casual, hand-drawn quality of the old logo communicated that The Grommet launches handmade products. In fact, the vast majority of The Grommet’s products are manufactured, many of them using innovative technologies. Next, there was a need to solve two main functional problems: verticality and complexity. The layout was too vertical and did not work well on mobile devices — the logo took up too much screen real estate. Additionally, due to its complexity, the logo would lose clarity when scaled down.

The Approach

Logo redesigns can take different shapes ranging from subtle to radical. A subtle redesign is an evolution that involves light modification to the existing logo. The brand might already have a recognisable logo it wants to maintain but needs to update. Perhaps the brand wants to make the logo stand out in a crowded market, or integrate it better in a modern web and mobile app world.

A radical redesign is a complete change that can be compared to starting out with a blank canvas. This approach can be useful for various circumstances such as changes to a company’s services, appeals to a broader audience, or removing a discrepancy with the brand’s personality. The latter is especially important. An effective logo should match the brand’s personality and represent the promise that is made to its customers. The more a company can deliver on that promise, the greater the brand value.

Which route was best to take? Subtle or radical change? Here were the facts to consider:

· The round blue “grommet” logo concept had been around for almost 10 years and was recognised by our customers nationwide.

· The old logo stood out well from the competition’s logos.

· Our personality is defined as: unique, approachable, and innovative. While the old logo was unique and approachable, it did not represent innovation.

· Ace Hardware had recently acquired a majority stake in The Grommet. In anticipation of a growing audience, it was a good time to change the logo.

On one hand, the logo was recognised by tons of people and did a good job at standing out from the competition. On the other hand, it did not fully embrace our personality. I wanted to address the personality gap but wasn’t sure if this could be achieved through a subtle redesign. At the same time, it was risky to start from scratch with a completely new concept and lose the recognition we had been building for the past 10 years. What to do here? I thought it was worth exploring both options.

The plan was to create logo options based on 3 different approaches ranging from subtle to radical:

· Refresh: keep the round blue icon and use the same typography.

· Facelift: keep the same “grommet” concept but integrate the icon differently. Change its shape and explore a new typographic treatment.

· Makeover: new concept, new icon, and new typography.

The Exploration

Over the next months, many concepts were explored, developed, discussed, refined, and ultimately rejected. Here are a few:

Refresh
Facelift
Makeover

The Makeover was the first approach to be eliminated, followed by the Facelift. After further discussion, it became clear that a refresh was the best strategy and approach.

The Execution

Among the “Refresh” logos, one design stood out, but needed further refinement:

Removing the hand-drawn lines surrounding the icon created a challenge: the icon had lost its anchor and was now at risk of visually “tipping over”. It needed another element, something that would help ground the icon. The exploration for the perfect anchor had started:

After exploring different concepts, it became clear that the solution was a shadow. It did not take up much space and it felt organic to the icon:

But removing the hand-drawn lines created another challenge: the overall logo had lost its human feel. Drawing inspiration from etching, I replaced the solid color within the shadows with parallel diagonal lines to inject more warmth into the design:

The Result

The final result is a versatile, modernized logo that speaks to the unique and approachable side of The Grommet. To refresh the logo and make it feel more current, I replaced the hand-drawn effect with solid colors. The diagonal lines add a human touch and uniqueness while the rounder shape keeps the design approachable. Lastly, I increased the thickness of the type slightly to create a bolder, stronger presence.

The primary inline version fits better in smaller spaces while the secondary stacked version adds functionality:

Final Primary Version (top) / Final Secondary Version (bottom)

These small but impactful changes created an optimal visual experience across all formats and preserved the spirit of the old logo while symbolizing a new chapter for The Grommet.

Special thanks to fellow designers Stacey Bakaj, Madaline Spinks, Dan Schultz and Cyndi Conklin for contributing ideas and feedback throughout the process.

The Grommet is an e-commerce platform that launches undiscovered products and supports local makers and small businesses.

Marie-Eve Tremblay

Written by

Senior Designer https://marie-evetremblay.com/

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