Revamping Bruce


In 2008, AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paint and coatings company, was growing rapidly. It had recently acquired ICI, itself an enormous organisation numbering nearly 30,000 people. The time was ripe for it to take stock of the organisation it had become and they approached Saffron to refresh the brand that had served it so well for nearly 20 years.

With the acquisition of ICI, AkzoNobel’s brand had to be made both more powerful and universal, so that people coming from a company that itself had a very powerful tradition would feel part of this new company. We advised on a new brand architecture, recommending our client to retire the ICI brand (keeping, of course, some consumer-facing brands like Dulux) while investing in and leading with the AkzoNobel brand.

Reinventing Bruce

As part of this strategy we refreshed the visual identity, reinvigorating Bruce – AkzoNobel’s iconic mark that had been developed by Saffron’s Chairman, Wally Olins, over 20 years ago – with the help of Martijn Rijven, an Amsterdam-based illustrator and designer.

This logo is derived from a bas-relief created in Greece around 2,500 years ago. As the AkzoNobel symbol, he was born in the 1980s and re-born in 2008.

In his new guise he is more energetic and more purposeful; he has a commanding yet welcoming presence.

The new logo reminds us that all of AkzoNobel’s success has been, and will be, built on forward-looking individual and collaborative achievement. The logo is the embodiment of our brand idea: Tomorrow’s Answers Today.

The brand idea has a universal appeal, going beyond culture or any other affinity – a message that represents the ambition of AkzoNobel to always grasp the future.

As well as an update to Bruce’s form, we introduced a more vibrant gradient which helped the new identity stand out across a range of applications.

We looked at a range of touchpoints across the AkzoNobel user experience, bringing the new brand to life from the smallest canvas to the biggest.

And we created a brand book to celebrate the new company, an affirmation of the values that built on AkzoNobel’s proud history and were set to propel them into the future.

A very successful launch

On the day the new brand was launched, AkzoNobel’s share price went up by 3%. It retains the same brand to this day.