Aardman’s thumbprint-covered rebrand reflects the people behind the clay

While some elements of Aardman’s identity stayed the same – the colour red, the star, the appearance of characters and “the wonk”, a term Aardman uses to refer to its slightly off-kilter boxes and borders – others changed. “The big thing that we wanted to change was the logo,” Gavin Strange tells It’s Nice That. “We had used the old version for decades but the company has changed so much since then.” Elsewhere, a refreshed set of typefaces was introduced, offering greater flexibility for the large number of people working on different projects at Aardman; Rubik Black was chosen for headers and Source Serif Pro for body copy.
On the inspirations behind the identity, Gavin explains: “You know what, it was one of those big projects where you don’t want to be subconsciously influenced by any other design or branding projects so, as corny as it sounds, I looked inwards! I looked at Aardman the company and the people and used all of that as inspiration. I feel really strongly about communicating the charm, craft and warmth of this place, so that’s why it was important to look inwards at the work we make to try and find a graphical solution.”
For the first time in decades, animation studio Aardman has undergone a major visual identity overhaul, including a new website that launches today (17 January). Fittingly, after transitioning to an employee-owned studio in 2018, the work on the identity for the Bristol-based studio was all done in-house, aspects of which designer Gavin Strange dubs as “slightly terrifying”, “updating something that’s represented our company for so long”. A thumbprint pattern unites the design work, nodding to the studio’s plasticine origins but also typifying Aardman’s aim to shift focus from “the styles of work we make” to the “more important picture of who makes that wonderful stuff”.
From this process of internal exploration, the studio arrived at representing tactility, but not relying on it for the identity, and crucially not looking twee, “like a cottage industry”, says Gavin. “So much of Aardman’s legacy is entwined with modelling clay – historically we always loved to see thumbprints on the clay to get across the handmade-ness – it’s a really special part of our history but not our only part. Now, the thumbprints represent all the people who make up the team.”

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