AO: New smile, new style

Started from a bet between two close friends in 2000, AO (formerly known as Appliance Online) has grown into the largest online household appliance retailer in the United Kingdom. In the 2010s, the company was strongly expanding its activity in Germany, the Netherlands and France. Seven years ago, it rebranded as and received a logo featuring its lowercase initials and a semicircle that made it look like a smiling face.

Although its visual identity was quite recognizable, the company felt that it’s a bit dated, making the business lost amid its competitors. To carry out a “long overdue facelift” that would give the brand a bold individuality, AO hired DesignStudio known for its work with Twitter, Airbnb and British Airways. According to Elise Santangelo, the studio’s design director, AO’s smiley face was too bulky, having elements without an integrity in the forms and a properly adjusted orientation. So the main idea for the rebranding project was to make the AO emblem more modern by creating consistence in all the features of the visual brand.

Redrawing the emblem with cleaner spaces and curves, the designers aimed to make it ideally fitted for digital environments. Generally, the logo was taken as a starting point for the other features of the brand identity, and the whole project was being performed under the motto “Always On”, whose initials coincide with the logo initials. The team created graphics for product categories, brand patterns as well as icons based on the logo’s letterforms
Santangelo describes the new brand identity as quirky and fun, giving the visuals an additional impact. With the motifs of energy and tinge of oddity, AO’s individuality has become more articulated.