American Express Brand Refresh, First in 37 Years

American Express Brand Refresh, First in 37 Years

American Express's last significant redesign took place in 1975 when the blue box was added. Now, 37 years later, Pentagram has taken one of the most instantly recognizable logo in the world, and gave it a facelift "crafted the modern American Express for the modern world." What's more, "this design system cherishes and celebrates the heritage of American Express in a stylish and smart way."


Pentagram for American Express

The refresh comes as part of the company's new global marketing campaigned, 'Powerful Backing: Don't Do Business Without It / Don't Live Life Without It', which focuses on how deeply intertwined personal and work life can be, and the role that AMEX can play in supporting that.


The new visual identity starts with its iconic blue box logo, which has been refined (goodbye radial gradient), the wordmark has been redrawn simplified, and AMEX identity suite now includes a more digital-friendly mark. This version of the blue box logo crops the larger wordmark to capture simply the 'AM EX'.


“Its the haiku version of the original blue box logo,” says Pentagram partner Abbott Miller, whose team worked on the logo update. “We loved that this version works the same way a good crop of a photograph can snap things into focus and put your eye directly on what matters, delivering a stronger punch than the original image.”


Pentagram also cleaned some of Amex's iconic visual assets such as the centurion, the "member since" badge, and the World Service Pattern. The branding update preserves these elements while representing them in a modern way.


"“American Express should never walk away from this incredible heritage,” says Miller, who dug through archives to study the mark’s 168-year history. “The research shows that there is incredible respect for the brand, and affection for its imagery."



Along with the reveal of the new visual identity, American Express launched their new marketing campaign that reflects how people live and work today. The campaign celebrates the new reality that life and business are increasingly interconnected, and the unique role Amex can have in supporting people today.


“We are witnessing a global transformation in people’s relationships with work. How they choose to earn a living, pursue their passions and move seamlessly between life and business is changing,” said American Express CMO Elizabeth Rutledge. “People are living rich, vibrant and layered lives and appreciate when someone has their back as they navigate this blended lifestyle.”



Beginning April 9, the 360-degree campaign will deliver both consumer and business messages at scale, with a focus on communications channels that are at the intersection of life and work. Advertising will be featured in mobile, social platforms, podcasts, connected-TV and outdoor, as well as many more. The marketing campaign begins in the U.S. and will continue to roll out around the globe in markets including Australia, Mexico, Japan, the U.K. and Canada, among others.


To meet people in the places where life and business intersect, the new ads are running across mobile channels, in more than 20 different podcasts, within file-sharing tool WeTransfer and via streaming-TV, like Hulu. In addition, ads will run on broadcast television during popular morning shows, prime-time and late-night programs across major broadcast networks, during the NBA Playoffs and on MSNBC’s Your Business with JJ Ramberg.


Large-scale outdoor advertising will also run in major transit hubs and throughways in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco; and, starting in May, the company will back local artists by inviting them to recreate their work at a large-scale on several of these outdoor units. The company will also run contextually relevant ads on ‘geo-aware’ taxi tops that change content based on the neighborhoods the taxis are driving through.


“This is first and foremost a brand platform – it’s a guiding principle for how we treat our customers, colleagues and partners, and how we develop new, innovative products and services to deliver on our vision to provide the world’s best customer experience across all the customers we serve. The campaign is just the beginning,” said Rutledge.


The overall campaign was a collaborative effort between mcgarrybowen, Pentagram, Ogilvy, Mindshare and Digitas. The advertising was directed by renowned director Lance Accord, and the photography by award-winning photographer Matthieu Young.


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