09 February 2008

[logo_design] The Three Stages of Wickes Furniture

1345. Safe to say this caught a lot of us by surprise (clicky the illo at right to embiggen if you could be so kind, thankyou!).

Not nececelery, mind, that Wickes had hit a rough patch – that was public knowledge. What was a surprise (unless you were some kind of insider) was that Wickes was so close to its end. Now, it's might be winding everything up and going away.

On the Portland Housing Blog the proprietor made the remark "We won't be hearing 'It's a Wickes House' anymore". Of course, since I try to pay attention to logo evolution, I noted that that wasn't quite the case (it's germane to the housing discussion because Clint8200 correctly noted that it's due to the slow housing market – this is one of those ripples that are spreading throughout the economy now that so many fewer people can get loans for houses now). Actually, Wickes moved off the "It's A Wickes House" campaign already.

Sometime during the last year, they began promoting "The New Wickes" with a change in logo – dumping the pastel pink and teal, and the flowing script W in the circle – and going to a palette of earth tones and a decided change in font, a new completely-typographical solution with no abstract graphic elements – not even the two parallel bars that framed the word "Furniture" (which also recieved a typographic facelift). Even the taglines were jettisoned; Wickes was now "creating new ideas" and the aural hook was the Roxetteish "We've Got The Look". They'd even rolled out a new value-priced line – Cindy Crawford Home.

As far as I know, this rebranding and "warm" relaunching of the brand is a strategy that can succeed. It's hard to tell at first blush if it's a last-ditch attempt to save a company that's down for the count. Certainly, though la Crawford's name and face doesn't exactly have the pull it did in the 80's or the 90's, it's still a powerful draw and any company that can afford to hire her certainly doesn't look like it's in the last stages of tenability.

So, looking at it from a brand-evolution perspective, it was kind of hard to be sure that Wickes was that far along. Of course, the tale of history is much more emphatic.

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