Orange entered the telecommunications market in Switzerland in 1999 as the third mobile operator and has to grown to 1.6 million customers. In 2011, Apax partners bought Orange Switzerland from its owner, France Télécom, and kept the well-recognized brand name by licensing it, which is a very costly endeavor. Earlier this year, French billionaire Xavier Niel, purchased Orange Switzerland for a smooth $2.9 billion and last week changed the name to Salt with a new identity and campaign by Publicis Switzerland.
Update: Publicis did the ad campaign but it was the London office of Prophet that did the strategy, naming and identity, plus the website and app design.
The new logo and the chosen font clearly differentiate Salt from other corporate design within the industry. It underlines the differentiated brand identity, is very flexible and, through animation, is given a dynamic component. For all of the national languages in Switzerland a direct, uncomplicated and simultaneously striking tone was developed.
Prophet provided text
Despite all the press releases and news stories there is no clear explanation of why they chose the name Salt (or perhaps my German is not good enough to find the answer) but I think it’s quite literally called Salt to give the market some flavor. Going from Orange to Salt is a lateral move in choosing another daily-life item that sounds irreverent as a company name. Orange, of course, has become one of the most well-known brands in Europe and Salt is probably betting (hoping) it can achieve the same kind of ubiquity using the same branding tactic.
The new logo is the word Salt, period, typeset in Jeremy Mickel’s Superior. It’s a beautiful typeface that makes for a very forgettable logo. Again, not very different from the minimalist Orange logo, but at least orange had the orange square behind. To Salt’s and Publicis’ credit, at least it’s not another chunky sans serif wordmark.
The identity starts strong with some of these more corporate applications, with no supporting graphics and just straight-up type. Not much to get excited about but a nice enough, hipster attitude. With the more consumer-driven materials, however, things get a little wonky.
The only other defining identity element is the stroked-dot pattern which feels very 1990s, early web, and has little to no sophistication or even a sense of representing a twenty-first-century telecommunications carrier. A stronger identity system would have been needed to take the rather dry logo into more interesting territory.
The stores look somewhere between a lingerie shop and a bookstore. Not bad, I guess?
One interesting approach is the photography, that captures actual people using their phones in a day-to-day manner, as opposed to models texting while making breakfast for their smiling kids in a perfectly-lit kitchen. It’s Salt trying to be edgy and to a degree it works, but it also feels like it lacks context or even a strong point to make along with the new name. The TV spots and ads all say “Orange is now called Salt” but they never bother to provide a pay-off. Overall, it’s great that they took a chance with something different but it falls short on impact and meaning.
Thanks to Pablo Tamarit for the tip.