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Process: Home Depot rebrand for BRAND NEW

This past November at the first BRAND NEW conference in NYC, I finally met face to face my April Fool's co-conspirator and Layer Tennis opponent, Armin Vit. We spoke about collaborating on this year's prank, and I was excited to take on the challenge.

A few months ahead of time, I submitted a list of possibilites and we decided on the Home Depot. It's an international brand and was unlike any of the subjects chosen before. It has become increasingly difficult to get anyone to believe anything on the internet is real on April 1st, so we had to take extra measures in hopes of catching people off guard and make them believe it, if only for a few seconds. 

My approach this year was a bit different. Last year I submitted the Dunkin work as a personal project I had done as a rebranding exercise, that ended up being used for the April Fool's post. With this being created specifically for April Fool's, I wanted to strike the balance between a solid and believable redesign and something that would get a reaction. 

Early artboard (HELP!)

I must admit I drafted an email or two to Armin suggesting some other brands I could tackle. I really had a hard time finding the right approach. Most of my early studies were subtle changes that dealt mostly with the typography. In the end, I didn't think that was dramatic enough for this kind of exercise.

I began working on the car, even as the logo was undecided as a way of seeing it in use and making some decisions. This year I wanted the images to look tight and authentic, as if they were officially issued press materials and not obvious comps. I spent a lot of time getting the details as right as my photoshop skills would allow. 

Current Home Depot CarCan't go wrong with a lightning bolt stripe and halftone dots.

I ended up putting various logos I was considering on the HD sponsored Nascar as a test to help me decide on a direction. 

I ended up choosing a direction that felt rooted in the current brand, picking up on the angled type and a stencil font, and hanging on to the equity built into that big orange square. To try and get it to be a centerpiece for discussion, I also picked up on the ideas of minimalism/simplification and modularity in logo design (two issues that have been front and center recently).

Once the logo was set, I moved on to creating the other items. I shot some of the pieces for comping and others I worked over top of existing photography. I propped up a few cards from my wallet and photographed them by the window to use as a foundation for comping up some gift cards.

I had some ideas for the big orange bucket, but never could get the shot to look "official" so I didn't include it. The rough elevation on the right explores the idea that these handy buckets are used for any and everything and users tend to have one for separate and specific tasks (you don't want fertilizer mixing in with your car washing supplies).

I explored a few other items for applications of the new "H" logo being shown by itself. Picking up on the idea that the brand would begin to use this ultra simplified mark as much as possible moving forward.

One wrinkle we added this year was to plant fake camera phone shots. I took some actual phone shots in the store and altered them to include the "new" logo. Twitter pal & Digital Strategist /  Ogilvy in NYC, Gavin Becker generously helped us out by posting a shot to his account several days before the April 1st post. I had to choose someone I could trust and that had no obvious connection to me or Armin, but was in an industry that would be likely to comment on a rebrand. 

Of all the shots I took, the digital screen at checkout seemed like the most likely place for the new logo to show up, almost as if it had been rolled out too early by mistake in their internal systems.

Fake cameraphone shot at register (Before / After)

End cap spy shot, altered header and typography on panelsNascar garage spy shot by Steven Matts (Armin's idea :)

The tweet with the spy shot started popping up in twitter. People questioning it, trashing it, etc. It even made it to my talented (and clearly opinionated) senior designer at HAWSE, Joey Ellis (be sure to check out his great work, btw). He sent me this hilarious ichat. I could hardly contain myself, but I did my best to play along.

A really nice touch from Armin was to include it in a Miscellanny post the day before, leaking another spy shot and referencing some of the buzz it was getting online. When the project finally posted on BRAND NEW, Armin had even done a cloned version of the current HD site, rebranded with our new graphics.


Once again, it was great fun and I appreciate Armin letting me have a crack at it for another year. Thanks to all for the enthusiastic comments & discussion.

This is a personal rebrand exercise and is in now way affiliated with or endorsed by the Home Depot. The Home Depot logo and all registered trademarks are property of the Home Depot.

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Reader Comments (15)

Wow, again a great job. I saw it and thought it was a real improvement. Has Home Depot responded in any way?

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan Paul Koudstaal


April 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergwkh

This is very reminiscent of H-Street Skateboarding's logo from 1990–1992. That logo didn't last long at all. They went back to their original branding.

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPanda

Panda doesn't read.

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTubes

I was impressed and probably a bit bummed it was just an April fools.

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

Wow, I was suckered into this April Fool's joke for sure!

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I've only just heard about this! What a great approach, and very convincing in execution and delivery. Although I'm not that familiar with Home Depot at a glance I think it'd make a great brand refresh, nice one. :)

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Really disappointed this is not real.

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Wow. Just now seeing this. forgot to check-in on April Fools. Really great job guys. Super legit.
The blurred iphone shots really sell it! LOVE the chat. hilarious.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Scamihorn

nice work matt!

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfelix

I love this post. You guys should have some sort of Disclaimer because Isaac (Home Depot's in house counsel ) will be sending you a cease and desist. I used to have their logo displayed on my site (AisleFinder.com) and a few weeks ago, they sent me a letter, (if you want I can send that letter to you, just as a heads up) threatening legal action. I spoke to Isaac , and he explained that they are fiercely protective of their trademark.period. i love Brand New and I hope you guys can keep this article posted.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurtiss Pope

Ahh... Lawyers. Maybe Isaac worked for Nike at one point, huh Matt? Love this stuff. As usual, you rock.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGus Granger

Why does The Home Depot insist on having a mediocre logo, when they could have yours. ;-)

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

A very interesting and successful evolution. The icon can work with or without the text. It is scalable, legible and translates in black and white. The orange remains the same to maintain the link. The slab serif goes well with the company’s services. The other touch points work as well especially on the famous apron.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGarage Equipment

I'm really impressed. This is grueling work and, I'm sure, not that easy. I've always really wanted to do this stuff... jealous. Must be pretty rewarding.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

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