Asda’s rebrand that designers love, does that crossover to consumers?

Will the Asda rebrand result in better brand recognition with their customers?
Words by
2 June, 2024
3 mins read

The UK supermarket chain Asda has pulled off a rare feat: a major rebrand that has won the approval of the creative community. But will shoppers be equally impressed? Let’s look at Asda’s new look and what it means for its customers.

A fresh start for a British institution

Asda’s striking new identity, crafted by Havas London , marks a significant shift for one of the UK’s most recognizable retailers. Freed from its former parent company Walmart, Asda is now under the ownership of Zuber and Mohsin Issa, two billionaire brothers from Blackburn, with support from private equity firm TDR Capital. This change in ownership is the first time in two decades that Asda has been primarily under UK control.

An extremely competitive market space

Like many retailers, Asda has been grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, which has squeezed consumer spending and intensified competition from discount rivals Aldi and Lidl. According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data, Asda holds 13.1% of the UK market share, behind Tesco (27.6%) and Sainsbury’s (15.15%).

Despite these challenges, Asda has moved forward with a bold new look. Adam Zavalis, who joined Asda from Aldi as vice-president of marketing, has spearheaded this transformation, introducing a darker shade of green to complement Asda’s familiar lighter hue and adopting a more playful tone in its branding.

A nod to northern roots

In a recent interview, Zavalis emphasized that the rebrand aims to highlight Asda’s status as a “British institution” and reconnect with its Northern roots. The move has been well-received by the creative community, with many industry experts praising its overdue refresh and emphasis on accessibility.

Expert opinions

Embracing heritage and customer Expectations

Wayne Deakin, global creative principal at Wolff Olins, noted that Asda must honor its heritage and customer expectations. “The visual identity is just one aspect of achieving this; how will Asda’s strategy and experience come to life through the recent refresh?” he asked. Deakin highlighted the importance of resonating with both employees and external audiences to ensure the brand’s success.

Relatable and human centric

Independent strategic marketing consultant Rob Sellers pointed out that the rebrand’s language is more relatable. “‘That’s More Like It’ is a real piece of language. It’s the sort of thing that people would say when they get home from the shops. There’s a humanity to it and it’s understandable.”

Sellers also praised the design’s softer, less corporate feel, noting that it seems less American and more in tune with British sensibilities. “The use of the stickers feels like things that are associated with value,” he added. “They feel like the kind of thing you would use on social, so they connect the modern and retail world.”

A natural fit, but room for distinction

Emma Follett, chief creative officer at Design Bridge and Partners, said the rebrand feels like a natural step for Asda but cautioned that it might struggle to stand out in a crowded market. “Asda needs to find in this redesign what makes its brand stand out distinctively,” she advised, suggesting that incorporating Northern humor seen in its ads into the store experience could be a key differentiator.

Balancing familiarity and freshness

David Jenkinson, partner at Pearlfisher, believes the rebrand strikes a balance between staying true to Asda’s roots and introducing fresh elements. “It smartly stays true to Asda’s roots and familiarity, building on existing brand equity rather than reinventing the wheel with a complete overhaul,” he said.

Connecting with nostalgia

For CBX’s partner Mark Christou, the rebrand evokes nostalgia and leverages design assets that resonate with the British public. “The work highlights value through playful use of holding shapes and violators, conveys freshness with its core and complementary color palette, and exudes approachability with its unique custom font,” he said.

Accessibility concerns

Not everyone is convinced, however. Paz Martinez Capuz, design director at Household, questioned the distinctiveness of the sticker approach. “We have seen a lot of the guerrilla sticker style in recent years and I can’t help but wonder how Asda could have diverged away from this familiar approach to create a more distinctive asset,” she said.

Practical and unpretentious

Creative director and strategist Jose M. Sánchez expressed concerns about the accessibility of the custom typography but acknowledged the rebrand’s contemporary appeal. Meanwhile, Iael Esther Brener, creative and design director, appreciated the straightforward approach, saying, “In a world obsessed with flashy overhauls, there’s something refreshingly honest about a brand that sticks to what it knows best.”

To sum it up

Asda’s rebrand has garnered significant praise from designers for its thoughtful approach and connection to the brand’s heritage. Whether this new look will resonate equally well with shoppers remains to be seen. By balancing familiarity with fresh elements and ensuring the rebrand reflects Asda’s core values, the retailer hopes to strengthen its position in a competitive market and win over the hearts of consumers. As Zavalis aptly put it, the new tagline, “That’s more like it,” encapsulates Asda’s effort to align its visual identity with the expectations and experiences of its customers.

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Gareth Boyd

Who Design Today founder and editor. A design enthusiast in every area from digital to print and physical form.

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