BELOW-THE-LINE: Tesco checks out its corporate branding

Tesco has embarked on a national roll-out for its new corporate logo - designed to put its days as a ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ retailer behind it.

Tesco has embarked on a national roll-out for its new corporate logo -

designed to put its days as a ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ retailer

behind it.

For modern shoppers the Tesco brand now represents the cutting edge of

high-street shopping.

Yet Tesco’s corporate identity has failed to fully reflect that. And a

gallery of disparate brand logos has emerged since the supermarket chain

last reviewed its corporate logo in 1987.

The store commissioned RPA Europe, its retail planning and design

consultancy, to conduct an audit of all visual communication and devise

a strategy to focus the corporate branding.

First, RPA trawled the competition looking at how other companies convey

their brand personality. The review took three years and in that time

the corporate signatures were continually evolving. Over 1000 photos

were taken and 21 firms surveyed.

Second, it reviewed every single application of the Tesco branding. It

was discovered that there were several different types of branding being

used across the Tesco operation.

Seeking uniform image

Whether it was food packaging, shop fronts, in-store signs or

promotional literature, they all lacked a uniform size, typeface or


Every department - buying, estates or marketing - had its own

interpretation of the marque. Yet the rules on how the logos should be

used amounted to just one sheet of A4 paper.

Even the old squat Tesco logo - officially dropped in 1987 - was still

appearing on some food packs.

In practical terms, the different logos were difficult to apply to shop

fascias, and many had to be bent or shoehorned into spaces. No one knew

at what point to cut off the blue bars on shop fascias.

As Tesco entered the arena of sub-branding with the development of

Metro, Express and Direct, the need for a uniform image was regarded as


Tesco decided to banish all its old logos and its secondary typeface and

devise a new logo that would unite all design elements.

But both Tesco and RPA were aware of the perils of abandoning all the

brand equity that these symbols had built up over a number of years.

One of these symbols is the blue bars that are on a wide range of

Tesco’s goods. Though they are reminiscent of the stripes on a butcher’s

apron, their origins are of a far more practical nature.

The bars made their debut in the 1980s on Tesco press ads, devised by

Lowe Howard-Spink. It was so effective that over time, the bars appeared

in other areas until they became a permanent element of the Tesco logo.

A bar on bars

Discarding the bars was not an option as they had acquired too much of

an equity. The only solution was to incorporate them into the new


‘We couldn’t just get rid of them, and if you change it too

dramatically, people might start wondering if the company has as well,’

says RPA creative director Jon Cameron.

Instead, they developed a font designed to wed old with new. It retains

the quality associations of a serif typeface with the modernity of a

sans serif type.

Tesco hopes the new look will help it consolidate its market leadership

- and underwrite the practical changes the supermarket chain has made in

its overall branding and core values.


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