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New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
 

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Reviewed Jul. 13, 2016 by Armin

Industry / Telecom Tags /

Established in 1992, Optus is the second largest telecommunications provider in Australia (behind Telstra) offering mobile, fixed, and broadband services to consumer and business customers. You might remember that in 2013 we reviewed their big redesign that got them out of the brand doldrums. It may feel like a quick three years since that launched but a lot has happened in that span — mainly the mass consumption of entertainment via mobile devices and the rise of Netflix — which has spurred Optus to take the next step probably in hopes of dethroning Telstra but if not, at the least, be a kick-ass runner-up in the market, which feels achievable now that Optus is integrating Netflix into its services and buying the exclusive rights (in Australia) to the English Premier League. Earlier this year, Optus began rolling out a new identity designed by Sydney-based Re (who also did the 2013 redesign).

The playful tone of the bubble font logo was no longer appropriate for the entertainment-led brand Optus needed to become. The new strategy was to make much more of Yes and treat Optus as a corporate endorsement. In essence to make the logo more neutral, grown-up and established, yet oh so familiar.

Re provided press release

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Logo detail.

I loved the 2013 redesign when it came out and I still enjoy the overall identity but the logo has not aged well, even at only three years old. It still has a super-fun-times vibe but, as a logo for a telco trying to gain serious ground, it’s limiting. The new logo went from a 3-year-old to a 45-year-old (if it were a person) getting all buttoned-up and ready for its 9-to-5 job. It’s not an exciting or particularly interesting wordmark but the strategy of the new identity is to move the brand name to the background and the brand message — Yes — to the foreground. So, however bored you are by this logo, it’s not meant to entertain you (or me). The fun starts below.

In 1992, Optus introduced their brand promise, ‘Yes’, in the face of Telstra’s no. Today, ‘Yes’ is still a strong brand asset but over time has lost meaning. For the rebrand, we elevated ‘Yes’ to give it a more defined role. When FedEx CEO, Frederick W. Smith, realised it wasn’t packages they were delivering but peace of mind, that’s when the Fedex brand started to make sense; and it’s the same for Optus. Rather than delivering gigabytes to mobile phones, they deliver ‘Yes Moments’ to customers. Those moments in life when you feel more excited and more alive.

Re provided press release

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
“Yes Mark”. Typography in collaboration with Dave Foster.
“Yes” animation by Buck, Sydney.

The previous “Yes” lived in a speech bubble and had a fun hand-written script aesthetic that made it work well as a sidekick to the wobbly typography. Now, the “Yes Mark” becomes the centerpiece of the identity and it’s a wonderful, weird, personality-full script that has a surprising amount of flexibility to it (as you will see in the applications below). At first I was weirded out by the large amount of space between the “e” and the “s” but, after staring it at it for a while, I’ve come to really dig it. It’s a very unexpected brand element to build a brand repositioning around that really separates Optus from Telstra and other telcos.

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Artist installations, featuring (clockwise from top left) Bafcat, We Buy Your Kids, Numskull, and Gemma O’Brien. Video produced by Emotive.
To give Yes a stronger presence, we decoupled it from the logo and made it a brand expression all of its own. The ‘Yes mark’ represents the voice of the customer, hence being rendered as a hand drawn script. […] Representing the customers’ excitement, the ‘Yes mark’ is incredibly free, playful and expressive. It’s emblazoned across our communications, it wraps itself around things it loves and even dances in animation. Creative agencies are encouraged to be playful and expressive with its application.

Re provided press release

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Posters. Illustration by Gemma O’Brien.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Larger posters. Mark Wahlberg photography directed by With Collective.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Stack system for text call-outs.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Yes! Magazine covers.

The main elements and behavior of the identity can be seen in the images above: Tight crops of the Yes Mark interacting with photography, illustration, and other text; a typographic information system of tabs with plus signs; and the endorsing Optus wordmark.

To support this new direction, Optus has forged relationships with Netflix and Stan, launched its own set-top box (Yes TV by Fetch) and made huge news in the media by buying the exclusive rights to the English Premier League (that’s soccer for any Americans reading). Optus is on a mission to forge a new kind of category where telco meets broadcaster.

Re provided press release

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
New set-top box, Yes TV by Fetch.
The previous brand had such a strongly defined core aesthetic that it struggled to evolve with the needs of communications. For the rebrand, we took a new approach by introducing an additional layer outside the core identity which we call the playground. Governed by principles, rather than guidelines, the playground is where the brand gets to stretch its legs, play and push in new directions as the needs of customers and the business change. This meant leaving some parts of the identity open to evolution. We achieved this with the idea of ‘brand worlds’ for different parts of the brand - essentially skins on the core identity, tailored to the audience they’re trying to reach. For example Music feels different to TV & Movies which feels different to business, yet with a backbeat that’s distinctly Optus. This way we can evolve the brand aesthetic over time without having to rebrand every few years.

Re provided press release

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Entertainment wall. Illustration by Resolution.
Entertainment TV spot by M&C Saatchi.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Entertainment bags.

Another cool aspect of the identity is the ability to create “skins” for different offerings. So, for example, the entertainment offering — TV and movies — has launched with a funky, pastel-colored range of quirky illustrations. I happen to like it now but I can see how it would be a turn-off for others. The great thing about this is that it can change completely a year from now.

While I like the more is more approach and I’m distracted by all the pretty colors and shapes and plus signs demanding my attention, this is on the verge of being too much. While I’m on the half-empty part of the glass I’ll also say that I’m not convinced by the main typeface… not so much because it’s yet another geometric sans serif but there is something about it that doesn’t quite gel with the rest of the elements. Maybe it has a tad too much personality of its own or it might be its wider, um, width. I’m thinking something more along the lines Benton or Trade Gothic could have blended in better. Anyway…

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Optus Music.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Music wall. Photography directed by Emotive.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Optus Music on mobile devices.

Within the same structure and treatments, Optus Music feels completely different and, again, in a year or so, this can be changed altogether and use illustrations like entertainment.

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Usain Bolt Wall. Photography directed by The Works.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Football wall. Illustration by Dan Leydon.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Premier League on Optus.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Premier League promotion posters.
New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
And promotion banners.
“Football” TV campaign by M&C Saatchi. Man, Idris Elba is impossibly cool.

For the Premier League collaboration, the Yes Mark works particularly well and heroically in all those posters where there is an angelical kind of lens flare stemming from it. These also show not just the flexibility of the Yes Mark but its recognizability - in the third and fourth posters you don’t even see the “e” but, as Optus, hammers its rollout, I can see the mark becoming fairly iconic.

New Logo and Identity for Optus by Re
Coffee cups. I’ll drink to that!

Overall, this is a highly energetic relaunch and a vast and clear departure from the 2013 identity that, more than make it seem like that was a mistake or a blip, it acted like an evolutionary step that helped set up Optus to be able to pull off this much more visual and expressive identity. Re has also done a great job in setting up a framework that can evolve and allow other design firms and ad agencies to expand on it. Lastly, it will be interesting to see how the focus on “Yes” plays out for Optus and whether the Yes Mark can withstand a long life or if it’s bound to live a short life like it’s predecessor, Olly.

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UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Austin, TX.

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