Australian Infront has – over the past 13 years – become the poster child for Australia’s online creative community. Its majestic kangaroo, housed in a blue circle, has been (until recently) a familiar sight for those landing on the webpage. The site has evolved, though, and no longer caters to just the design world, shifting to accommodate the rise of artist groups and other creative minds. How does the design community encourage such momentous change? Well, a redesign. And who better than the team at Melbourne’s SouthSouthWest and digital expert-extraordinaire, Damien Aistrope. Time to kill the kangaroo.
With such a popular site, and an even broader community, why the need to rebrand Infront at all? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? Well, it was slightly broke and Aistrope feels the rebrand was a long time coming. “The kangaroo mark no longer reflected the vibrant community that we represented and it was time for Australian Infront to grow and be on a more level playing field with the type of work that we publish,” he says. Jesse Mallon over at SouthSouthWest, tasked with the brand development, began the project with a similar sentiment: making sure the logo and identity really did ‘reflect the entire Australian creative community’.
The new, asterisk-looking logo is simple, spontaneous and organic. It could not be further from the rigidity of the previous vectoresque kangaroo. Inspiration, like the varied groups that visit the site, came from many areas, and SouthSouthWest threw a wide net to capture them. From Howard Arkley, Anthony Lister and Ken Done through to the likes of Ksubi and Monster Children, the brand is all encompassing. What did Mallon learn from all of this? “Much of this creative output is typified by handmade marking, vibrancy, a sense of spontaneity and a touch of irreverence,” he explains. Hence the playful, free-flowing lines that build up the design. The logo feels entirely human, extremely approachable, just a little bit like the Southern Cross and, from a brand point of view, it hits the nail on the head. Type wise, the logo is free from any conventional face, rather it retains the hand-drawn motif and extends it out to the rest of the identity.
Like the line work, the colour palette too came directly from the team’s references – and as the logo is essentially a digital offering, that means vibrant, almost neon hues.
Aistrope, in translating SouthSouthWest’s brand guidelines and bringing them into the digital realm, began with the aim of making the site as flexible and future proof as possible. Unlike the kangaroo, the rebrand has to ‘achieve a bit of timelessness’ and hopefully hold off another rebrand for 13 more years. To aid this, the site is quite a minimal affair, rightly sticking the spotlight on the content.
Surely rebranding a site with such a strong following of eagle-eyed creatives is nerve-racking. Everyone has an opinion, and designers tend to be the most vocal. However, both Aistrope and Mallon feel that all feedback is welcome. Aistrope rationalises, “If they didn’t critique what we had done, then there would be real trouble.” Regardless, the identity was developed to grow alongside the ever-changing Australian Infront landscape. Mallon has a whole slew of ‘hand drawn shapes and patterns’ that could make their way into future brand extensions. As for Aistrope, well, he says the site ”is still very much an after hours love job.”