Why British department stores are changing their logos – and shaking up their branding

The old (left) and new (right) John Lewis logos.

With John Lewis and Debenhams rebranding within a day of each other, we look at why department stores need to refresh their identities and how they're doing it.

The spirit of the season is change. As the UK highstreet transforms more and more into a service and dining-led commercial space, and bastions of British shopping like House of Fraser face a murky-looking future, it's perhaps fitting that other retail giants have all decided on a facelift at around the same time.

Today saw the launch of new logos for both John Lewis and Waitrose, in the first ever joint campaign from both names to publicise new brands John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners.

The news follows this week's similar rebrand-with-new-logo for Debenhams, their first in 20 years, as delivered by Mother Design, the branding part of creative agency Mother.

The new look logo is designed to be more modern and friendly, fitting in with the department store's 'Debenhams Redesigned' strategy, which has seen the chain renovate stores by fitting them with gyms and restaurants in order to adapt to the current high-street climate.

The John Lewis and Waitrose partnership meanwhile comes powered by Pentagram, and aims to highlight the customer service aspect of John Lewis, which perhaps remains its USP in the age of Amazon.

The resulting strapline of 'For Us, It’s Personal' is an add-on to Lewis' age old tagline of 'Never Knowingly Undersold', which has remained in place since 1925. Design writers like Nick Astbury have commented on the change, highlighting the importance a good endline, especially at the end of an epic TV campaign, something which John Lewis, masters of the Christmas viral ad that they are, have gone with to announce the new brand.

Though out of season, the ad (below) is definitely in the same sort of vein as the Christmas campaign work.

As an interesting side note, the major stalwart of Harrods has stood faithful to its logo for years now, with no signs of change on the horizon. Either the tourist hotspot is the exception to the rule, or there's some procrastination at work with the inevitable transformation at hand.

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