Established in 2000, Gumtree is the leading classifieds website in the UK with 15.3 million unique visitors a month and the claim that it’s used by 1 in 3 adults every month. Its main draw are items for sale — nearly 1 million available on any given day — but it also hosts job listings, properties to rent and buy, professional services, community events, and more. Last week, Gumtree introduced a new identity designed by London-based Koto.
Following customer feedback, the logo keeps the iconic tree motif, but its design is a bold move away from the orange, white and green emblem synonymous with the brand since its launch. […] Koto designers James Greenfield and Jowey Roden, who were also behind Airbnb’s brand redesign, took inspiration from the rainbow eucalyptus tree. Greenfield, Co-founder of Koto, says: “We wanted to create a tree that Gumtree could own, something that felt timeless yet digital and worked on a range of scales from a small mobile screen to building-sized posters. We did a lot of research around images of trees and how they had been represented by artists and designers through the ages to really understand how our audience of millions see trees as an icon. The final logo has been informed by this extensive research along with our own rigorous design process.”
The old logo looked like it represented the estate of a Nigerian prince looking to transfer assets to a U.S. bank account. It was a pretty terrible logo and — as is the case with Craigslist in the U.S. — it’s surprising that so many people don’t pay attention to the design and use it en masse. Nothing beats a good deal I guess. The new logo maintains the drawing of an Eucalyptus tree but is now rendered as a more abstract icon. It’s a very top-heavy drawing, looking more like a 3-leaf clover than a tree and the three protrusions of the tree seem to lack definition. I mean, it’s a hundred times better than the original, it has the potential to become really well known simply by number of impressions, and I’m all for reduction and simple marks but this might be a little too minimal for its own good. The wordmark is standard-issue sans serif, so not much to comment on there.
It’s a very well executed identity and it all looks very polished, but it feels detached from reality. Even the ads with the soft-focus photography and forced copywriting feel like they are trying to sell you a very idealistic lifestyle that doesn’t really come from second-hand items on a classifieds website. In application, when the icon is used as an asterisk or marker on the ads it doesn’t have the presence required to make a strong impact and leaves the wordmark all by itself, which has no personality to stand on its own. Maybe I’m being overly harsh on this project and I should accept that it’s an unequivocally positive evolution but there is something about it that feels too strongly manufactured to be cool when it really isn’t.