Established in 1999, Futurebrand is a global brand consultancy — “built on an inimitable focus on innovation and the future” for added pizzaz in their own description — with 26 offices in 18 countries and is part of McCann Worldgroup. Most recently Futurebrand redesigned the American Airlines and Fiji Airways identities and were in charge of deploying the Look of the Games at the London Olympics. They first gained attention in 2003 when they redesigned the UPS logo. This week they introduced a new identity for themselves along with new positioning, “We are the creative future company.”
Our word mark has been completely redesigned to offer a more conversational, human and approachable feel. We feel that this helps to visually articulate and define who we are as a company today.
— Provided text
The previous logo was a perfectly acceptable Trade Gothic(-esque?) wordmark with a minimalist “F” icon that fell in line with the rest of other large identity consultants like Siegel+Gale. The new identity has two components: a wordmark, shown above, and an icon, shown below. They operate relatively independent from each other and they couldn’t be more worlds apart in terms of execution and sophistication. Let’s start with the atrocious wordmark, some kind of spin-off of Museo, which by now everyone has gathered I do not like at all. To try to put it into words (and feelings that also reflect on this wordmark): the construction of the letterforms is clumsy and unbalanced due to the outward-pointing slabs without a matching slab going in, this is especially painful in letters like “m”, “n”, “u”, and, dear lord, “A” and “M”; or the insistence on the uppercase letters to have a slab sticking out on the top-left, no matter what, giving letters like “B”, “D”, “E”, and “F” the equivalent of a mullet. There is a common misconception that “there is no thing as a bad typeface, only bad designers”. Obviously I disagree: Museo is a bad typeface. And serving as the inspiration or starting point for Futurebrand’s main wordmark is a bad choice. It looks like an amateur design firm, more than a global powerhouse.
“We are what we create, and so, our new icon has been given a purpose, in that it truly integrates itself into our work. It is immersive, ever-evolving and adaptable - as is our clients’ work.
— Provided text
Luckily, Futurebrand redeems itself with its icon. Transforming the wordmark’s “F” by italicizing it and removing the hanging slab from the upper-right, the icon has an inherent motion that is intensified by its pixelated effect that picks up a mega-zoomed-in pattern of colors from whatever background it’s sitting on. This is flexible identity at its best: the icon doesn’t just do the easy trick of changing colors from a predetermined palette it generates an endless array of palettes and textures on every application and metaphorically it serves as a magnifying glass for Futurebrand’s work. It’s smart, it looks good, and it demonstrates Futurebrand’s potential to go beyond the expected approach and create something interesting and energetic.
Overall, if I were a client I would sign a project scope worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with the company behind the icon, but I wouldn’t spend more than 10K on the company behind the wordmark.