Thoughts on Aziz Firat’s Rebranding of Samsung

Inspired by Andrew Kim’s Microsoft redesign, designer Aziz Firat has redesigned the Samsung logo and brand identity (as a personal project).

These exercises in redesigning a company’s visual identity without a contract are always interesting to me. I love getting to see how a designer identifies the problem and goes about solving it in a creative way, even though they’re on the outside of the brand looking in.

In this case, Aziz keeps it simple—both the problem and the solution. He focuses primarily on the mobile device product lines of Samsung and attempts to bring them into a cohesive visual family with a simple “S” mark and single font-family. I love that he calls out Samsung for plastering full make and model names on the front of their phones—there is always danger in being too blatant with your logo application on products.

The design of the “S” shape is simple…but perhaps too simple. It’s not quite the iconic shape I’d expect for a brand so big as Samsung. There’s a bit of a disconnect in his explanation as to the inspiration of the overlapping parallelograms that make up the mark. Perhaps inspired from Samsung’s faceted device backgrounds in their current advertising? I’d prefer to see a deeper connection for something so important as a brand’s mark.

The stated values that inspired the design are “simplicity”, “quality”, and “unity”. I need to dig a bit further to see if these currently exist as stated values at Samsung but either way they lack personality and vision. I’d expect these from any company developing devices for the modern American. Nobody really aspires to own tech from companies that produce complex, poorly made, disconnected products. We might settle for them if they’re be cheaper but then who cares how many fonts they use. I expect someone with a deeper relationship with Samsung could pull out some really interesting values and personality traits for the basis of their brand visuals.

Firat’s color schemes are nice though mostly uninspired. I’d personally prefer a less gradient-heavy application but that’s more personal preference. (Gradients are played out, IMO). Overall, I’d say this part of the branding exercise was less thought out which is understandable for a project he’s getting $0 to work on.

Ultimately, I can’t fault too much—the designer interwebs are alight with chatter of Firat’s redesign. Which was probably his goal all along. Well done, Aziz. Well done.

However…

while I appreciate these kind of design exercises there’s a few areas where I generally find this self-assigned branding work falls flat:

1. No designer can get to the heart of a brand from the outside. Whether you engage an agency or contract a freelance designer or hire in-house, this person (or team) must, must, must get to know your business inside and out. They need to know your history, your culture, your products, your process, your customer service experience, and especially your leadership’s vision. The deeper they can go the more likely their work will resonate with the brand’s true essence.

2. Corporate identity consulting is as much political maneuvering as it is strategy and aesthetics. Half the battle of a rebrand is navigating the politics of a company. All the more so when it’s a behemoth like Samsung. Design strategy gets a whole lot simpler when there’s no committee, board of directors, competing marketing departments, or offices full of accountants and lawyers. In fact, some of our larger rebrand projects have been as much about building internal consensus as they are about executing our strategy on paper or the computer.

3. Collaboration brings about deeper, more meaningful ideas. This includes collaboration with the client as well as collaboration amongst creatives on the branding team. The process of ideation is rarely a straight line. It has two points: a start and an end but in between is a seemingly chaotic mess of stops and starts, ideas built on ideas built on ideas, and loads of refinement. Yes, a single individual can come up with deep, meaningful ideas in with this process, all on their own. But by strategically involving clients and multiple creatives in this process—each with their own perspectives, experiences, and knowledge— ideation can go much faster and deeper (all the more so when that team is experienced in their own ideation process). 2 heads—or even 5 heads—really can be better than one.

In the end I give two thumbs up for Aziz Firat and his spin on Samsung branding. He’s attempted to tackle a behemoth and put something out there to get the conversation started. And it’s a decent execution that’s gotten him some press. Good job!