Visual wit brings personality to a brand by making unexpected connections between ideas.
see a connection between two things that seem unrelated, it makes you think a
little, and maybe brings a smile to your face. That’s an experience you’re
likely to enjoy. Visual wit isn’t about making jokes—it’s about
bringing warmth and humanity through design. It takes a light touch and the
ability to see connections where others don’t. We’ve always loved the
personality visual wit can bring to a brand, because we believe every brand can
benefit from feeling a little more human.
When Amazon shifted its business model from
selling books to selling everything, Jeff Bezos asked us to create a logo that
reflected his plans for the future.
He envisioned that Amazon would become the most consumer-centric brand
in the world.
However, because Amazon was a company that
only existed for consumers online, we needed to bring a human element to the
brand, while reflecting the breadth of its offering. Since everything Amazon sells is delivered, we started with
a simple arrow, but curved it into the shape of a smile: Happy deliveries!
We’re always looking for that little bit
extra—the visual wit
that gives a design personality. Visual wit requires an ability to see
connections where others don’t and more often than not it also requires a
stroke of luck. While exploring the idea of selling everything, we made a fortunate discovery: The letters A and Z
appear in the name. Amazon sells everything from A-Z, so the smile goes from
A-Z. It’s a subtle detail that not everyone sees, but those that do feel ‘in
the know’, and a little closer to the brand. It also gives the logo a
distinctive asymmetrical shape, recognizable at any scale. To seed the idea,
Amazon started using the phrase ‘everything from A-Z’ in some marketing
Although we were only asked to design a
logo, we couldn’t help but think about a packaging opportunity. We suggested to
Mr. Bezos that he could make 1 million positive impressions a week without any
additional cost. We proposed that by
just adding the smiling arrow to each of the million boxes Amazon shipped per
week, every shipment would become a happy delivery. He loved the idea and since
then, the smile has become iconic, now adorning 23 million boxes a week (and
counting!). We also created an abbreviated version of the logo: The letter A
with a smile underneath, for tiny digital spaces. It has since been used on
gift cards to create impact at retail. Since we designed the logo, smiling
logos have proliferated, but the Amazon logo remains unmistakable, recognized
all over the world.
A key benefit to working directly with an
entrepreneur who has confidence in his vision? Quick decisions.
When asked by his marketing director if the logo should be researched,
Mr. Bezos said, “Anyone who doesn’t like this logo
doesn’t like puppies!” He laughed uproariously and approved it immediately, proving
that when it comes to making a brand more human, a little visual wit goes a