Much has graced the news already about Standard Life Aberdeen’s rebrand, most of it derisory.

My viewpoint is normally one of making sure businesses move with the times and adapt to modern ways to survive. I do see that there was confusion around the brand, with different products with similar names. I can see and understand the rationale to simplify and streamline.

However, my concern is who this is aimed at. A few years ago an eminent American ad man wrote a pertinent article about agencies avoiding one of their biggest markets, the ones with real spending power – the older demographic. It is easier for young agency hot shots to pitch at their own age group, they understand it better and it is way cooler than the silver sector.

However, the older group can be savvy, financially secure and with more time to spend their disposable income. The pandemic has shown up this divide in even more sharp relief and the younger generation will be carrying a heavy financial burden for a long time.

A modern, digitally flexible new identity is a good thing, but did it have to lean towards such youth speak? I am well aware that businesses have to look beyond their older customers as they will literally die off, but this feels like they are ignoring completely their existing database in an effort to engage with a young audience who may have significantly less money to invest……


Mind the Gap

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One thing about being a designer is that you never fully switch off from closely observing brand identities, packaging, menu designs, website, signage, and every kind of typography. And of course any display, exhibition and interior as well.

Which of course means basically everything that is communicating a message around us, all of the time. Fortunately the observation is sometimes almost subliminal and you let it go, other times you get that old ‘wish I’d done that’ feeling and then other times it just jars, badly.

One of the latter experiences was recently when we were at a hotel on holiday, and the gap between a brand identity and the actual proposition was huge. Normally when we stay at hotels I have a quick peek at the website if I wasn’t the one that booked it. This time I hadn’t had time to look at anything to do with this particular hotel in advance.

As we approached the area I was a bit dismayed, as although it was in a good location for what we needed, the town was quite unappealing and the exterior underwhelming.

The hotel brand was old fashioned, fussy and gave the impression of a typical small town, rather run down, older establishment.

Therefore I was completely surprised when we walked in to a bright, white, spacious and contemporary interior, with an open outlook embracing stunning views of the sea.

The entire hotel had been thoughtfully and carefully designed, in a minimal, yet comfortable way. Cool interiors with interesting furniture and well thought out bedrooms. The exact opposite of the overly fussy brand identity, staring up at me from the lift carpet.


Of course, better that the hotel was smarter than the brand identity, rather than the other way around, but considering the owners had paid such close attention to detail it was sad that they had got the visual identity so wrong.

I was itching to start designing, but then again I was on holiday – did that really matter?