Established in 1917, Alba (as it was named in 1960 after founder Alfred Balcombe) is a consumer electronics company in the UK, that started by producing radios in the 1920s. Very long story short (because there isn’t much), Alba was purchased in 2008 by Home Retail Group, the parent company of retailer giant Argos, who has the exclusive rights to sell Alba products, which include televisions, tablets, mobile phones, and personal audio products. Earlier this year, Alba refocused its offering on a younger audience and introduced a new identity designed by London-based Elmwood.
Apologies for the tiny old logo — Alba is not a popularly documented company on the internet. Despite the small size of the image, we can tell there was nothing special or particular about it other than the extended structure. It wasn’t bad or terrible, just forgettable. The new logo could have been really great and at first glance it almost is. The “A”s are very cool and provide a friendly-futuristic vibe that goes well with the intended audience. The problem is that when you look at them big, the bottoms are simply a Round Join and Round Cap setting of the stroke in Adobe Illustrator, which is fine in most cases but here it leaves an unflattering bump in the curves. Literally 10 minutes of bezier work would have fixed this. The “L” also suffers from no visual adjusting, leaving the corner feeling like squeezed Play-Doh. The “B” is fine. This wordmark was almost there as a great solution but the execution could have been pushed. Nonetheless, once you put a visual party around the wordmark, details like these are easy to overlook.
The Alba products themselves are bright and colourful and so the new branding needed to carry similar levels of fun and energy. Illustrator Chris Lemmens at Twisted Carpet created four abstract orange, purple, blue and white illustrations that sit at the core of the new identity, representing a portal to an exciting world of entertainment.
Each illustration is designed for one of the four product categories; TV, audio, portable and accessories. They convey suggestions of volume dials, shattered glass (with its sound wave connotations), ambient shapes suggestive of the positive feelings music and film can create, and 3D shapes and splatters for a cooler, edgier tween feel.
The illustrations are the highlight of the project. The red-orange-purple hues tie all of them nicely together despite all the random shapes and textures used and I can appreciate there being no major concept other than “make it look fun so old kids and teenagers will want these and not roll their eyes at their parents when they get it for them” and that the packaging’s strategy is to run the illustrations as big as possible on the boxes. Overall, it seems like an appropriate redesign and a clear personality established for a previously almost-anonymous brand.