Sagmeister & Walsh Rebrand MILLY: Bold. Edgy. Irreverent.
Updated: Aug 30
By: Callie Budrick
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Bold. Edgy. Irreverent.
Sagmeister & Walsh are at it again. The duo (and their incredible team) paired up with fashion designer Michelle Smith for an irreverent and edgy rebranding of MILLY. Smith, who studied in Paris at ESMOD and interned at Louis Vuitton, established MILLY with a recognizable image. Her merging of the French atelier and the American silhouette caught the attention of names like Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, Kristen Wiig, Amy Schumer and more.
For six months now, Sagmesiter & Walsh have been working side by side with MILLY to create a visual identity that is as bold, colorful and edgy as the upcoming Fall/Winter16 collection.
“We kept the shape of the existing logo mark but evolved the mark’s personality by transforming it into a changing logo type that can showcase different attitudes. Whether the logo grows flowers, freezes over in ice, or is painted onto a womans body; each application tells new story which can evolve as the clothes in each season do.”
MILLY Q & A with JESSICA WALSH
How does the MILLY project differ from other Sagmeister & Walsh projects?
Traditionally when tackling a rebrand the first thing we change is the logo. However we felt the existing mark could be used as a base for making a changeable system. Through placing the logo in various scenarios or animating visuals over the logo we are able to change attitudes and themes as often as the clothing does. This also allows us to shift the brand perception without going through an expensive overhaul in packaging and signage, and allocate more budget towards social media which is perhaps one of the most important elements of a brands perception in a consumers mind these days. Consumers are used to digesting a ton of content from brands on a daily basis and are always hungry for new inspiration. We feel its not enough to only create a few strong print campaign images in this day and age.
What do you think makes this a truly successful rebranding?
Only time will tell about the success of the rebrand in terms of reaching the new audience MILLY would like to appeal to. However I do think we were successful in visualizing the brand attributes they want to communicate: bold, colorful, irreverent, feminine with an edge.
There’s a lot of fantastical imagery involved in the rebranding (the princess and the frog, Eve and the serpent, etc.). How would you say this relates to MILLY as a brand? How were these scenes chosen to represent MILLY?
There is definitely a theme of female empowerment & independence throughout the campaign. Sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face; such as that girl biting the frog prince image you pointed out (one of my personal favorites). Both in the conceptual shots and the main campaign imagery we show a fierceness and confidence in women which represents the brand attributes as well as the personality of the lead designer/owner of MILLY, Michelle Smith. The FW16 collection goes against many trends, showing color in winter and layering bras over tops, for example. The collection shows that Michelle is unafraid to take risks and try new things and be edgy with her work, and we wanted the communications for the brand to reflect that.
6 months is quite a commitment to a project. Did the team know from the get go where the rebranding was headed? Were there any major roadblocks that popped up along the way?
We didn’t know when we took on the job that we would also take over the social account. That came out of the strategy phase. It’s more content than we’ve ever created at once, we’ve made over 400 images and animations that will roll out on social and we’re still in the process of making more. There are always challenges and hurdles with productions this large and complex but I think production is an interesting creative challenge in its own way!
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It seems like a new trend is forming with animated logo design. Can you speak to the power that animation has in modern branding?
Animation provides an easy way to integrate story and emotion into a brands image. It allows it to evolve and change over time while always retaining some kind of core mark that can be consistent and memorable. Animation has also become much more mainstream as a skill, almost half the designers we hire out of school these days learned animation. So as these techniques have become more affordable and accessible, it only makes sense that more and more brands would utilize them.
Finally, COLOR. Color seems to be a huge part of the rebranding. What was the process like determining what colors to use to bring out the bold and edgy feel of MILLY?
They wanted to be bold and edgy while maintaining a feminine edge. So we went with a color palette that mixes these sensibilities, and could tie all the images and artwork together.
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