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New identity backed by brand plan

New look for Kathmandu

New identity backed by brand plan

Since its establishment 24 years ago, Kathmandu has grown from a small retailer to a publicly listed company with 150 stores around the world. Fifteen news stores are opening every year as Kathmandu undertakes an agressive growth strategy.

When Kathmandu approached them with a brief for taking its brand forward, Strategy knew that this was going to be about much more than just creating a beautiful new logo.

Strategy’s challenge was to bring to light the strengths of the Kathmandu brand and then empower the company to effectively communicate those strengths to its staff and customers.

“Successful retail brands evolve over time to ensure they remain relevantand compelling to their customers,” says Kathmandu managing director Peter Halkett, adding the company sought to “refresh thebrand, align the brand across all aspects of the business, reflect our design philosophy and most importantly capture the spirit of ‘inspiring adventure’”.

The logo itself was designed to be timeless and work on many different levels from advertising to product to storefront. A 1960s typeface (Frutiger, by Adrian Frutiger) was chosen to give the logo a timeless feel. The mountain icon reflects the mountain inspiration of the previous logo but is easier to translate to zip pulls and other product branding.

Strategy tested the logo from the customer’s perspective. How would it look in a shop display? On a garment? On a billboard?

Once the logo was tested on the target market and approved by the board, Strategy went about developing a structure with Kathmandu that would ensure the brand would grow and thrive.

Strategy developed a voice for the brand that would lead all the copy going forward. They created the company’s first-ever design philosophy document, something that would be important in helping staff better communicate the value of the product to its customers.

Next, Strategy looked at all the different ways the brand would be implemented and set up a overarching “design council” to make sure that each of those branches of the company were working to the same specifications. A detailed brand architecture was drawn up.

This design council would also be responsible for reviewing and developing the brand over time.

“What we’ve learned is that brand architecture should be organic systems,” says creative director Guy Pask. “If a system is too rigid, it will break. A brand is theoretical at the beginning. It has to be applied and reviewed and then guidelines can be put in place.”

For Kathmandu, this process has been a brand re-engineering – not just a new look at the surface, but a whole lot of work done under the hood. It has brought out the existing value of the brand and helped to permeate that through the staff, where it will flow on to the customer. By creating a structure to support the brand, Strategy and Kathmandu are ensuring that they will get lasting value.

The re-brand is being rolled out this month with newly branded product following suit in the next six to nine months.


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