This week, Black + Decker revealed a new logo and brand identity.

The century-old company worked with New York design firm Lippincott (who has worked with Coca-Cola and Starbucks).

The company, while best known with consumers for its power tools, has been expanding over time to become a lifestyle brand. Vacuums and coffee makers are two big sellers in the company’s canon of products.

In order to keep up in a contemporary marketplace, the brand needed a visual identity that is "not just about power and muscle,” says Lippincott senior designer Marc Hohmann.

"We said, what [should be] the current design philosophy?” Hohmann tells Co.Design. “Is it about decoration, or putting a lot of design cues on this? Or is it about taking things away from it and stripping it down.”

Here, the old logo and orange look. Moving forward, power tools will be black with orange details.

Likewise, lifestyle products will be silver and black. Expect to see updated Black + Decker products, and a website, roll out over the next several months.

Co.Design

Black + Decker Gets A Logo Update

100 years after launching its original brand and logo, Lippincott gives the power tool and home goods brand a modern look.

Black + Decker (formerly Black & Decker) is best known for its power tools. Problem is, the brand carries a lot more: vacuums and coffee makers are two big sellers in the company’s canon of products, making the existing hexagonal logo—which symbolized the nut used with a bolt screw and can be seen here at the right—somewhat dated.

To remedy that, Black + Decker worked with New York-based design firm Lippincott to rethink its branding. For the new logo Lippincott ditched the hexagonal nut, swapped out the ampersand for a plus sign, and simplified the whole thing by making the typeface and color border the same width. The products will also get redesigned bodies, with the new logo and a pared-down color scheme in which power tools will be black with orange details, versus the previous all-orange color, and lifestyle and cleaning products will be in neutral white and silver tones.

Lippincott, who created the iconic Coca-Cola swirl and famously deleted Starbucks’s name from its cups, began the redesign with an audit. Throughout the United States, Europe, and South America, "there’s a lot of history there, and a lot of public consciousness. But at the same time people don’t have a connection for [the brand], or love for it," says Lippincott senior designer Marc Hohmann. To figure this out they asked survey subjects to hold different products and relay their impressions to the design team. Black + Decker used to be a cherished brand, but in the audit subjects said the items seemed plastic, and not reliable.

A redesigned Black + Decker vaccum

"We said, what’s the problem? What [should be] the current design philosophy?" Hohmann tells Co.Design. "Is it about decoration, or putting a lot of design cues on this? Or is it about taking things away from it and stripping it down."

This question isn’t a new one. Many a brand has had to grapple with how to stay relevant over time. Black + Decker was founded in 1910 as a factory-era company producing machines for making milk bottle caps. Today, the company is less industrial, and more lifestyle. "The best selling product is the Gyro drill, with the technology of an iPhone," Hohmann says, referring to the capacitive motion sensing.

The new Black + Decker logo and packaging

So as the brand grows, a tried-and-true strategy is to simplify, and therefore control, what customers will see. Consider the evolving logos of 3M and Shell: once flowery, they've been snipped down to bare-bone elements for a contemporary marketplace. Ikea and Uniqlo (two examples that Lippincott referenced as companies with modern identities and a lot of consumer love) have across-the-board brand consistency; for example, you don’t need to see the Ikea logo to know when you’re looking at a pamphlet of their assembly instructions.

Likewise, the Black + Decker brand will keep doing more, with less logo. "The Black + Decker brand has to be about being around the house, and representative of all the main flagship products: the coffee maker, the hand vacuum, and the power drill," Hohmann says. "And it has to look like it, and not just be about power and muscle."

Expect to see updated Black + Decker products, and a website, roll out over the next several months.

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10 Comments

  • That icon is a significant loss to their brand's impact. And they've sapped out a significant portion of their distinctive orange? Why? To what end?

  • I would have rather celebrated the iconic nut of the brand in each and every item built as a piece that would be the core for functioning, to remind all users this is great because of the unique brand/ nut of Black & Decker.. That would have been a way to evolve with history, rather than eliminating the iconic differentiator. I wonder how many hours were wasted to decide to kill the brand icon, rather than celebrate and elevate it as key differentiator... Can't help all, in time.. And this was just 15 minute max reaction to being exposed to the issue...

  • I agree. Should have stayed with the old, maybe just changed the symbol. New logo is solo bloody bland, and really does remind me of a cheap knockoff. It really only looks good on the vacuum

  • Juan Trillo

    I am just thinking having big clients to work with is just a matter of luck rather than knowledge this days... Lithuim is more relevant than the logo on the drilling tool lol!

  • Levi Wanyoike

    My entire interaction with the brand has been right here at home in Africa and as far back as I can recall BLACK&DECKER stood for high quality, innovative, built-to-last power tools. The kind of stuff my dad would drool over at the store owned by an Indian who was proud to stock the renowned tools. I won't say much about the current product line as I don't use them but the logo is very close to many a graphic designer's heart like myself. If I saw the new logo at a hardware store I would easily think it was a cheap imitation from China (no pun whatsoever). The '&' sign is as iconic and unique to the brand as the thick narrow typeface on the two words - a lot more like B&H and rolls out your tongue easily. I am now forced to pronounce it as "Black Plus Decker" :o

    Did they need to refresh their image and message to stay relevant? Yes. Did they need a new logo? Perhaps not.

  • Barr Suul

    looks cheap, bland and generic. The Braun, Apple inspired nonsense is played out and doesnt fit tools and small appliances. New Black+Decker Logo =Lame.

  • Cory Schorling

    The new Black [plus] Decker logo looked great on the chainsaw, then everything went downhill from there. I can understand the change due to the spectrum of product exceeding the workbench, but to design something like this seems like a step back. The main culprit is the black box design for the drill that has a mid 90's tone that says "outdated product" and deserves a bottom shelf spot in the store.

  • Levi Wanyoike

    Ha ha. True, I think any logo will look good printed on a silver/chrome surface