The following article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of HOW magazine.
The team at Cynda Media Lab took home top accolades in the HOW Logo Design Awards for their rebranding of GUND, America’s beloved manufacturer of soft toys.
At Toy Fair 2016 in New York City, America’s oldest manufacturer of soft toys unveiled a new logo as part of a rebrand—one that was never supposed to have happened. Rewind to nearly two years prior, when GUND hired digital agency Cynda Media Lab. The goal at the time was simply to connect GUND to the younger generations via social media. After a comprehensive study of the brand, Cynda Media Lab pointed out that although GUND’s quality products had earned the love and trust of many, the company’s “serious” brand image was not an optimal fit for the business of toy-making—let alone the sort of social media presence the company desired.
“We convinced them to rebrand their company and truly show the world who they are,” says C.J. Yeh, founder and executive creative director of Cynda Media Lab. The resulting identity system highlights GUND’s commitment to creating a genuine emotional connection with consumers.
“When used properly, negative space gives your logo design room for imagination, and it can pack an extra layer of meaning into your design,” says C.J. Yeh, founder and executive creative director of Cynda Media Lab.
By accentuating the most expressive elements of GUND’s signature products, the logo itself pays homage to the company’s history of successfully capturing emotion in product shots. “During the research process, we began to realize that it’s people’s imagination that gives life to plush toys,” Yeh says. “That realization gave us the inspiration of using negative space to suggest GUND’s signature product, Snuffles.”
To pull it off, Yeh says the team spent countless hours establishing a “perfect surface” on which the company name and bear could coexist. “Every shape creates a counter-shape, and both are equally important,” says art director Christie Shin.
The meaningful new mark gives GUND a personality that works well for all applications, Yeh says. GUND’s longtime fans have reacted positively, and the 8th Annual HOW Logo Design Awards judge, Wally Krantz of Landor in New York City, selected the identity as one of 20 winners from among nearly 1,200 submissions. When all 20 winners went head-to-head in an online Reader’s Choice voting, the GUND logo received 39% of HOW readers’ votes in the logos category.
For the creatives at Cynda Media Lab, the experience working with GUND reinforced their belief in client collaboration and communication. “At the end of the day, branding is about reflecting and amplifying the best and unique qualities of the client’s company or product,” Yeh says. “It is not about the designer’s ego.”
Design Firm Cynda Media Lab, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; www.cyndamedia.com | Creative Team C.J. Yeh, Christie Shin, art directors; Fred Pirlot, designer | Client GUND
[Related: Check out all 20 winners of the most recent HOW Logo Design Awards.]
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Shin and Yeh of Cynda Media Lab accepting their Logo Design Awards trophy at HOW Design Live.