Established in 1866 as Herberts, then purchased by DuPont in the 1990s when it was renamed as DuPont Performance Coatings, and most recently purchased by asset manager, The Carlyle Group, the newly renamed and more independent Axalta Coating Systems is a global provider of liquid and powder coatings to automotive, transportation, general industrial, and selected architectural and decorative customers. Axalta employs 12,000 people across 35 manufacturing plants and seven R&D centers around the world, it has over 1,800 patents held or pending, and revenues of more than $4 billion in 2012. The new name and identity, both realized by Futurebrand, were announced last week.
An essential first step in building a fullscale brand program was creating a name that connotes front-runner status. Firm yet memorable, Axalta celebrates the company’s unparalleled focus and drive to win. It cues upward motion and underscores the ambition and status that set the company apart. Paired with Coating Systems, the name speaks to the global, integrated suite of solutions the company offers.
— Futurebrand case study (PDF)
Next to the new name, a new identity was easily the most marked symbol of change. Inspired by the idea that a company built for performance must be simply brilliant in all aspects — its products, people and attitude — we developed a bold, reflective “A” to serve as the company’s logo mark. Embedded with a forward-looking road, the logo symbolizes Axalta’s performance and category leadership, with a brilliant finish that cues a passion for coatings.
— Futurebrand case study (PDF)
I’m conflicted. There are moments when I hate this logo and moments where I love it. Or, at least, there are moments that show very interesting potential. It’s a shiny “A”, for Axalta obviously and for the lustrous coatings they produce, and the glossy effect is both cheesy and effective. It’s smartly done in that it clearly communicates a glossy finnish and is not just an arbitrary gradient; it looks best when the logo is small, but up close it screams Adobe Illustrator tutorial. The “A” also represents the white, dashed lines on a street which Futurebrand touts as a “forward-looking road”; it’s an interesting concept but it drives the identity into looking like a car insurance company or road service assistance. The wordmark is a nearly impossible combination of characters to kern properly and I have to say this was done as best as possible — seriously, you give it a try. There is a slight disconnect between the rounded, glossy “A” icon and the stiff wordmark. I’m not a big fan of the logo, but then you see an application like the signage below and it really makes you reconsider. That is one “A” I would like to lick.
In application, the “A” can take on different textures and colors, which is both expected and pretty. There is also a secondary swath of coating that can be used across brochure covers and web backgrounds. The typography works better with the icon than the wordmark does with the icon and it does help communicate that future-y feeling necessary to give “coating” a bit of an edge. One of the more interesting applications is directly above, with the icon as a transparent version, it starts to go beyond the expected. Overall, as I said, there are good things and bad things about it, but definitely an improvement over being a DuPont sub-brand.