Kodak Logo

Kodak’s Retro Rebrand

Kodak has joined the ranks of countless brands in recent years that have embraced a retro rebrand. The most striking difference between Kodak’s decision and similar moves from Budweiser, General Mills, and Pepsi (via 7-Up), is that Kodak is neither doing a vintage-inspired rebrand, nor are they doing a temporary promotional throwback, but they are actually reinstating their logo from 1971, originally designed by Peter J. Oestreich.

Admittedly, I rolled my eyes subconsciously when I first saw the headline. “Aren’t we done here?” I thought, waiting for a heavy-handed, overly-eroded, heavily-filtered faux-vintage redesign to load. However, the identity that agency Work-Order came to for Kodak did exactly what this kind of thing is actually supposed to do: I felt an immediate pang of familiarity while looking at something that was decidedly brand new.

The new identity is smoothed out and freshened up in all of the right places: the new “KODAK” typeface is solid and modern, while remaining grounded in traditional type design practices. The letters are also stacked (risky!), which works incredibly well here and makes a noticeable improvement in overall balance of the mark compared to Oestreich’s original. But what really got me? The packaging.

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Wow! Now that is how you weave together the past and present. The new packaging is mysterious in its minimal layout, the incredibly bright color palette offset (and enhanced) perfectly by the wash of black. The light and airy type treatments are the perfect counter to the bulk of the mark, which is shown relatively small.

Overall, the packaging is smart and balanced, somehow saying digital and darkroom at once. Specifically, it is not easy to date this work, and in that way I think it is especially well suited for an iconic brand so thoroughly tied to American heritage across so many eras.

– Julie

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