Earlier today, Young Jerks—the one-man Brooklyn studio run by Dan Cassaro—unveiled its new identity for the classic American clothing brand Lands’ End. The handsome family of logos is a distinct improvement on the brand’s current design, and they manage to reference the company’s heritage without feeling fusty or nostalgic. We e-mailed Cassaro to find out a little more about the thinking behind the redesign.
How did you get the commission to design a new Lands’ End identity?
I was contacted by Steven Baille to fly out to Wisconsin and and do some design work for Lands’ End. Steven was working on a brand refresh as a contracted creative director, and he brought me in to do some exploratory logo and branding work.
Do you know how long Lands’ End’s previous logo had been in use? What was the company looking for in the new identity?
I believe the current logo has been in use since Sears acquired them in 2002, with some slight variations. Further back, the company has a very rich design history including some really lovely marks, like the iconic “direct merchants” logo from the ’80s. I grew up with that and was really happy to be able to reference that in the new design. The misplaced apostrophe is pulled directly from that logo and the lighthouse was rescued from an old icon they used back in the ’70s. The company has some really great history, and we did our best to respect that while making it feel current.
So you weren’t tempted to put the apostrophe in its proper place?
I don’t think that was ever up for discussion! That came from a flub when they made the sign on the first store (and couldn’t afford to fix it), and they’ve held onto it since. Keeping that charm and personality was one of the goals of the project.
Had Lands’ End already been using the phrase “A Beacon for What’s Real,” or is that new as well? Did the phrase suggest the idea of using a literal beacon (the lighthouse) in your design?
I love that line. It’s perfect for them, but I think it was the other way around. The lighthouse goes back to 1963, when they began as a sailing-supply company. I believe the phrase came from the lighthouse imagery.
There are a few different versions of the logo on your website. Why the variations?
The variations were created to cover the countless uses the logo would have: hangtags, embroidered versions, catalog covers, and everything else. We wanted to make sure that the vibe (and the legibility) would not be lost depending on the usage.
What typeface are you using here?
The main logo uses an altered version of Caecillia, a slab-serif that Lands’ End had been using as one of its in-house fonts.
What was it like working with Lands’ End’s in-house team in Wisconsin? Were there any major challenges or hurdles you can tell us about?
The biggest challenge was to create something new while being respectful to the history of the company and its core audience. I was surrounded by a great staff and a ton of archival material to help me stay connected to what the purpose of this design was. The headquarters is the size of a university campus, but the staff is extremely tight-knit. Jenny Moyle, a staff designer, gave me a full tour. I was able to see the factory floor and walk through the underground tunnels that connect all the buildings. Really amazing. It was a great experience all around.
For more on creating recognizable brand identities, check out Identify: Basic Principles of Identity Design in the Iconic Trademarks of Chermayeff & Geismar at MyDesignShop.com.