MailChimp & Rebrands Going Against the Grain

Simon Read
By Simon ReadUX Designer
4 minutes to read

Mailchimp is one of the biggest names in email marketing and so its recent rebrand was always going to command attention from the design world.

But what many didn’t expect was for it to be such a departure from the ethos of recent grown-up, no-frills and sensible redesigns.

Embracing flat design

The prevailing trend among in recent years has been to embrace the world of ‘flat’ design. Removing shadows and depth from logos and branding in favour of big solid colours, streamlined sans-serif fonts and large vector illustrations. RollingStone, GoDaddy, RottenTomatoes and Burberry have all taken this direction with their recent rebrands to varying degrees:

Rolling Stone, GoDaddy and Rotten Tomatoes have all taken a similar ‘flat’ design-inspired route with their recent rebrands

Mailchimp intentionally goes in the opposite direction, embracing hand-drawn illustrations and a more informal brand

Rejecting the trends

Mailchimp’s rebrand goes in the opposite direction by embracing serif typefaces, drawn illustrations and informal copy. Its new font has subtle variations in the width of each character, giving it a handwritten feel. Illustrations are in a hand-drawn and hand-animated style, at odds with the slick high-frame rate animations in some of the other brands we’ve mentioned. 

It’s worth saying that this isn’t the first time Mailchimp have tried to stand out of the crowd with its marketing efforts. Most recently its Post Haste game as well as FailChips and Grand Hats have all been intentionally ‘quirky’ to help it get noticed and encourage word-of-mouth advertising online.

What is the thinking behind this? Mailchimp know full well that by going against the grain with their rebrand they’ll generate far more coverage and online buzz than taking the popular route. The brand is now almost expected to do the unexpected so following the crowd wouldn’t fit with its activity. It positions itself as unique and innovative within a busy market space and attracts attention from new partners, new employees and the media alike.

Mailchimp’s rebrand has already generated plenty of online commentary which is likely the desired effect. However will these ‘against the grain’ rebrands become more common? At what point do they become the norm? Would Mailchimp eventually have to rebrand in the opposite direction?

Let us know in the comments

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Articles by Simon Read

Designer at Enjoy Digital. Interested in web and user interface design, and graphic design both online & offline.