Established this past Friday, Ahold Delhaize is one of the world’s largest food retail groups with 22 different supermarket brands that account for 6,500 grocery and specialty stores in 11 countries. The new company is the result of a merger between Netherlands-based Ahold, established in 1887, and Belgium-based Delhaize Group, established in 1867, now collectively employing more than 375,000 people worldwide. The new identity has been designed by Futurebrand.
“The challenge here was being respectful and celebrating the rich history of both of these strong brands. The idea of a merger of equals and better together was a key thought in our design strategy.” said Dan Witchell, Executive Creative Director, FutureBrand London. “Our design style is intentionally joyful, more friendly and welcoming - this is a brand for internal employees as much as external audiences.” added Witchell.
To convey this commitment to build great local brands and bring fresh inspiration into the everyday to consumers, associates and shareholders, FutureBrand developed an iconic, modern visual identity that builds on a rich collective history while moving towards a bold future. The identity reflects and communicates ‘fresh inspiration’ with a vibrant and naturalistic colour palette and a logo that combines the most iconic elements of the Ahold and Delhaize Group identities into a bold new expression.
Both of the old logos were pretty good and had an unshakeable European business seriousness to them that’s hard to replicate with new logos. The Ahold logo was probably not as well known as Delhaize’s, as the latter’s lion was used in the retail logos and the former’s played the corporate role to the consumer brand of Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands. So it makes sense that the lion would become the key element of the new logo but it’s quite surprising that Futurebrand found a way to literally weave it with Ahold’s interlocking abstract icon with a crown.
In principle I really like the new icon, mostly because it delivers on the extremely difficult challenge of merging two very different logos into one. This is particularly beneficial for all those business-to-business people doing business with either of the two businesses for whom it will be evident where the new logo came from and that business will continue with business as usual. (Yes, it was on purpose that I wrote business far too many times.) I also like the single thickness stroke approach and all the curves are handled quite well, blending from face to crown. I even like the abstract eyes of the lion that I can see becoming a point of contention in the comments. However, there is something unsettling about the shape of the lion’s head, like there is something wrong with it; I can appreciate it’s not meant to be a literal representation of a lion but in abstraction it started turning into something else. Still, I do like it.
The wordmark (and main type used throughout) the identity strays one degree away from the usual by choosing Euclid Flex from Swiss Typefaces, which has a few unexpected quirks like a sunset tittle in the “i” and some funky curves in the “f” and “g”. You can see them in the video below. Ultimately, though, yeah, another geometric sans serif.
In application, there is a lot of green and shades of it which, now that companies have stopped trying to usurp green to signal environmental consciousness, feels fresh again and in the context of a food-fledging company, the color serves them well. There is a range of illustrations that are charming and relatively creative but still tame enough to serve on a corporate level and they do look convincing in those covers. In general the few applications shown display a desire to be on the design-ey end of the spectrum, pointing the company in the right direction instead of kicking off with a more buttoned up approach. Overall, it’s a very pleasing redesign that literally marries the two companies together with a strong logo and lively identity.