Opened in 1997, Seef Mall is the first traditional shopping mall — and by “traditional” I mean Americanopowerized — in Bahrain. Located in the upscale, suburban district of Seef in the capital city of Manama, Seef Mall occupies 440,000 square feet — still small compared to Mall of America’s 2,700,000+ square feet — and features over 370 stores that attract more than 20,000 visitors a week. In October Seef Mall introduced a new identity designed by Bahrain-based Unisono.
The brand required a dynamic new strategy to address an increasingly competitive landscape and a changing market conditions. Our strategy builds on the familiar heritage of the mall (one of Bahrain’s best loved), as well as the promise of family-friendly fun and convenience. The convenience factor has also been pushed forward in the messaging of ‘it’s easier’, creating a useful messaging platform for all aspects of mall visits — fashion, food, entertainment, they’re all easier at Seef!
Despite the fairly dramatic transformation the new brand promised to deliver, the board unanimously approved the work citing its alignment to the strategy and clear communication of the friendly nature of the mall.
The difference between old and new logos is like night and day or, well, like East and West. With the previous logo there was no confusion this was a mall in an Arabic city while the new one could be for a mall in Omaha, Nebraska. Although I have to take that last bit back, this new logo is remarkably nicer than that of any logo on any shopping mall in America. There is an instant warmth and family-friendliness-feel to the new logo that is really hard to achieve but, here, the combination of the hand-drawn look of the wordmark (in both languages) and the loose drawing of the three human sprites with the excitement punctuation marks over their heads all come very well together.
In application, the system is perfectly brought together through the development of a very well crafted set of icons that extends the aesthetics of the logo into every piece of communication and signage. There is also the secondary, chunky typography that plays really well with the thinner lines of the icons. (Anyone know what typeface that is?). The colors are perhaps a bit too happy and cheerful that it starts to make the mall feel more geared towards children than the parents that spend the money at this upscale spot. What’s interesting is how much more American this identity is and I wonder — wonder, as I’m not passing judgement here nor do I have a full understanding of how welcome or not welcome American culture is in an upscale suburb of Bahrain — if it’s counterproductive to the culture to embed more Western aesthetics than are already present with all the global retailers inside the mall? Nonetheless, good design is good design and in the category of shopping mall identities this stands out nicely.