As featured in the May 2012 issue of desktop magazine, over the next few weeks, we will be revealing our top 10 Australian logos of all time, as voted in by you and our panel of judges. Read more about the feature and our judging panel here.
All research and writing by Larissa Meikle and Estelle Pigot.
5th place: Woolworths
The well-known trademark that united ‘the fresh food people’ for 21 years from 1987 until 2008, created by Dupree Design Group, was replaced with a new marque designed by Hans Hulsbosch of Hulsbosch Communications and includes a green icon incorporating a stylised ‘W’ for Woolworths. It is reminiscent of one of the Woolworths logos seen in the 1970s and represents a person, as in ‘the fresh food people’ slogan.
In September 2009, the rebranding was extended to New Zealand stores where the new Woolworths symbol was to be used alongside the Countdown brand. It was rolled out in Australia across some 780 stores, including the transformation of the Safeway stores (owned by the same parent company) in Victoria.
In October 2009, it was reported that Apple Inc had lodged an objection to Woolworths’ trademark application with the Australian Government’s intellectual property agency IP Australia, claiming that the logo resembles its own. The report said Apple was concerned Woolworths had applied for a blanket trademark for the design, so it could be placed on any product – including on electrical goods such as computers and music players. At the time, Woolworths was not selling its own brand of electrical goods, but a spokeswoman for the company said that: “While we can’t rule anything out, we haven’t got any plans at the moment.”
In an article printed in [Victorian newspaper] The Age in 2009, Hulsbosch remarked on Apple’s dispute, stating that the company was taking trademark protection to the extreme. He was quoted saying, “Based on this logic, they would have to take action against every fruit-seller.” At the time of print, Woolworths had not commented on the outcome of the Apple dispute and the logo has not been changed from 2008 to this day. Asked about the meaning behind the awarded trademark design, and what the design represents, Hulsbosch says, “The Woolworths icon is the W for Woolworths. The logo represents ‘Fresh’: fresh produce, fresh food, energy and life. Green is the colour of nature, growth and organic freshness. It characterises balance, harmony and well-being. The round shapes signify friendliness, humanity, approachability and openness. The icon also represents people, a positive and energetic person with raised arms.”
In 2011, the new brand creative for Woolworths Supermarkets was named as Australia’s most valuable brand worth more than $7 billion (according to an independent report conducted by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance). At the time, Brand Finance managing director, Tim Heberden said, “The brand valuation process takes account of financial performance and brand strength. Visual identity is one of the brand attributes that is considered – and is an area where Woolworths performs strongly.” It was also voted one of the top five rebrands in the world, as ranked by brandchannel.com.
Last year, on the AGDA website, Hulsbosch credited his client for its branding insight, stating: “Woolworths’ management understands the power and value of good design and how it is fundamental to their business success. They lead corporate Australia in using the power of good design to drive growth, customer loyalty and sales.”
Commenting on the overall evolution of the Woolworths brand, Hulsbosch also says, “The Woolworths logos are a reflection of the past and future. They reflect the times when they were created and the latest logo represents today and the future.”