Oct 11, 2021

Designing an e-commerce classic

Elisabeth Skoda finds out from CEO Joanne Chan and client services director Moira Riddell how this timeless design was realised.
Elisabeth Skoda

The Amazon logo, conceived by design agency Turner Duckworth, is instantly recognisable and has become a modern classic. Elisabeth Skoda finds out from CEO Joanne Chan and client services director Moira Riddell how this timeless design was realised.

Could you share the design brief from Amazon? What was the aim of the redesign?

The brief was very straightforward. Jeff Bezos wanted an evolution to the existing logo that did not signal a major change, as he did not wish to scare off Wall Street investors. At the same time, he wanted it to communicate two key aspects of his business strategy: Firstly, his vision was to one day be able to sell "everything", so he wanted a mark that would somehow communicate that the store was not simply an online bookseller. When pressed on what he might sell in the future, he went so far as to say "patio furniture", which seemed mad at the time! Secondly, Amazon had, and still has, an extreme focus on customer service and customer satisfaction. So much so, at the time that Bezos would not print two-colour stationery, because there was no benefit to Amazon's customers.

Could you describe the design process for us? What were the specific challenges of designing a logo for a box?

Our design process is to find the most important and distinctive aspects of the brand and amplify them with maximal simplicity. We presented several design concepts that ranged in evolutionary bravery.  Whilst appearing as an update to existing assets, the winning concept brought new meaning to the logo. We literally turned a downward underscore of the brand name, a frown, into an upturned cheeky smile that subtly communicated the brand's ambition.  A smile that connected consumers to the fact that Amazon could sell anything from A-Z, and a smile from A-Z that engaged us all with a touch of humanity from what is now the largest e-commerce brand in the world. At the first design presentation, we showed the potential of the logo by lifting off the smile from the word mark, and showing it on the end of the brown shipper box. Whilst brands often wait years to pull their logos away from word marks, Amazon saw the potential from the early days to create an emotional connection with customers.

How would you summarise the challenges designing packs for e-commerce versus traditional brick and mortar stores?

Our approach for any client, whether an e-commerce brand or a brick and mortar brand, is the same.  We are always driven to find out the truth of the brand, to communicate that truth through the design of unmistakable brand assets, and to always be platform agnostic.  Today’s brands need to work across all platforms, and we love the challenge of creating brand identities that need to work as an app button through to packaging, billboards, posters and TVC end frames.

How did you make sure that the new design looks good across the different packs and products that Amazon delivers?

As a company we are incredibly proud that the identity we designed over 20 years ago is still as relevant today as it was then. And the assets that we created are being deployed in ever more creative ways as the brand continues to evolve.  Turner Duckworth continues to create timeless assets for brands, to help them develop and grow into their future states with unlimited potential.  And we would just like to end this Q&A with the response from Jeff Bezos to one of his team members at our final design presentation. When asked if the new logo should be researched, his reply was “Anyone who doesn’t like this doesn’t like puppies”.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!

Comment Box is loading comments...