Established in 1851, Ahlstrom is a Helsinki-based manufacturer of fiber-based products that serve different industries like food and retail, medical and healthcare, building and utilities, transportation, household and consumer, and printing and office. The end products are everyday items like coffee filters, bar code labels, disinfecting wipes, table cloths and napkins, envelopes, and much more. Ahlstrom has 5,700 employees in over 20 countries on six continents, including 37 manufacturing sites in 14 countries. At the end of February, Ahlstrom announced a new identity designed by the London office of Dragon Rouge.
We developed a brand idea to emphasise Ahlstrom’s ability to deliver progress through performance that enables both them and their partners to ‘stay ahead’. Accordingly, their brand has been expressed through a more confident and modern visual and verbal identity by showing how their highly technical fibres lead to the development of extraordinary products used in everyday life. Strategically, Ahlstrom has been able to use its refreshed brand to bring the business together and set themselves apart from the competition. Internally, they have been able to once again connect with employees to provoke pride and advocacy as well as be able to attract the right talent from outside.
— Dragon Rouge Project Page
The previous logo had a well-known and recognizable icon created by Helsinki-based Porkka & Kuutsa, a fiber-ish abstraction of a tree. Perhaps the idea of having a tree represent the whole company now felt antiquated or perhaps they just didn’t want to remind everyone that many trees are no longer with us in order to make some of those fiber-based product, either way (or neither way) the tree icon is gone. In exchange Ahlstrom has an odd new wordmark. I’m all for clever ligatures when they flow into each other organically but this “AH” ligature feels forced and awkward and takes all the attention away from the rest of the relatively intriguing letterforms that follow: even though I hate the “S” itself, it works very well with the “L” and “T” around it, the “R” is sharp and open, the “O” is very circle-y, and the “M” pointy. But I can’t get past that ligature, something about the shooting crossbar of the “A” that is uncomfortable. The rest of the identity seems nice and simple enough, if a little too gradient-based.