I’ve never really been into history but I do find the story behind a good brand fascinating.
Take the ‘Striding Man’. While you pour your Johnnie Walker scotch in anticipation of sipping your favourite label, I marvel at the logo on the bottle as I reflect on its history. Yes, I am a design nerd. The striding man dates back to the early 1900s when cartoonist, Tom Browne, was at lunch with one of Johnnie Walker’s directors and literally turned over a menu card and drew the, now famous, striding man on the back.
The character then become the star of the brand’s advertising until the famous line ‘keep walking’ took over in the 1990s.
The part that I find fascinating gives you an appreciation of the thought processes that go into brand design.
The striding man began as a detailed illustration depicting a gentleman walking from right to left. His character changed over time to keep up with the eras and changes in marketing trends. At one stage he was flipped to walked from left to right as it’s how we read so it was seen to be more like he was walking forward with time rather than backwards. He was also simplified, omitting any detail so he became more of a graphic. It was then thought he had been too simplified, so in 2015 the final redesign emerged. He maintained a graphic style but was given a smile, tip of the hat, boots and some other small changes to his attire. The idea was to give him a charming, playful countryside manner. In other words, personality to appeal to the market.
So you see, designers don’t just go ‘yep that looks pretty let’s put that there’. There’s always a reason behind placement and content as we designers strive to make your brand (to quote Johnnie Walker) ‘keep walking’ towards the future.
Ps. My label of choice, green. Mmmmm!