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The Best and Worst Identities of 2015, Part 2: The Best Reviewed

We will start with The Best from the Reviewed section of Brand New to help us get into the merry spirit of the season and on Friday we will have The Worst in case you had too much cheer on Christmas. One thing you will see missing this year from the selections are the summaries of votes received because they play a very small role in what things I choose and some people in past comments think that the selections are number-based — and I don’t want y’all to think I’m running a Democracy here.

See also:
Part 1: The Most Notable Reviewed
Part 3: The Worst Reviewed
Part 4: The Best Noted
Part 5: The Worst Noted
Part 6: The Best Friday Likes

Spoiler: Merck also makes it on The Worst list. There are elements of the identity that are amazing — the brochures! — and elements that are terrifying — the logo! — but there is a definite case of admiration for going the full bonkers for a pharmaceutical company.

The logo could have done without the shutter-like icon as the wordmark had enough of a (literal) twist to stand on its own. It’s such a simple and almost dumb move to change the visual orientation of the “x” to be sideways but it makes for a quirky-yet-corporate solution that is memorable enough.

In an age when less is more, Gretel piled more on more to make more awesome for Centric. A medley of eccentric textures, high-contrast photography, and energetic animation yielded a very unique tone of voice.

It’s hard to mess with something as iconic as the Absolut bottle but this evolution kept the key elements while making them all more beautiful and better crafted, in particular the script text that is as much a centerpiece of the bottle as the bold, blue name.

This isn’t the best custom typeface but it’s used with just the right amount of wilderness vibe (and paired with BC’s stunning scenery) that it’s hard to not want to to go to there right now.

This identity had two things in its favor: A great logo that reflects the architecture of the building while also being simply a nice execution and a charming introductory campaign that makes it impossible to not smile. Also, overall, it shows great flexibility and potential for cool executions as time goes by.

There is nothing flashy or awe-inducing about this identity, it’s simply executed flawlessly and elegantly, doing it all in a single color. Most university redesigns aim for this kind of stateliness but few have managed to do it as well as in this case.

I may not be fully alone in thinking that this was one of the best of the year but I’m going to assume that few (if anyone) would have ranked it as high. There is a great energy to this identity and it elevates the design aesthetics vastly while keeping the popular appeal of a fast food restaurant. The patterns on the french fry boxes alone make this a standout of the year.

This is probably the best type-set identity of the year, with a perfectly balanced logo that could have easily gone astray and a range of layouts that are music to our eyes. We are still left wandering what happens when a member of the orchestra leaves, though.

Gretel was able to take some very basic ingredients — Gotham, a red-black-and-white color palette, and simple layering — to create a stunning flexible identity system for one of the most sprawling and loved brands in recent years. What’s most amazing is that the system they came up with works as appropriately to promote shows like Narcos, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or All Hail King Julien without feeling disjointed. The subtle (and on point) animation work brought “The Stack” to life without tons of motion graphics hoopla and yielded a confident identity system that will keep people wanting to get their binge on.

See what else happened on Brand New each year since publication began in 2006


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