Grafik Paragraph
05/11/2019
By Monish Khara
Work by Pentagram
Pentagram: Design refresh of American Express
Do you take AMEX?

Pentagram, the largest independent design agency in the world known for 'designing everything' has produced a simplistic refresh of one of America's most trusted brands, American Express.

Their bold solution for the project eliminates frills and unnecessary details from the logo and brand elements, gradients have been removed and lettering sharpened with a focus on improving digital legibility. Heritage brand elements such as the centurion and world service pattern have been retained but streamlined for digital screens. As interactions on smartphones continue to rise, Pentagram's visual direction intends to cater to smaller screens while retaining impact and their brand landmarks.

A notable execution of this simplification reveals itself in the frustratingly simple but effective crop of the letters 'AM' and 'EX' in the brand's name. This practical adjustment of existing letters in the logo leverages the well-known brand equity and colloquial shortening of 'Amex' that consumers already shorthand the brand to - "Do you take Amex?".

The design solution for this work can be seen as making the American Express logo work at any scale. The iconic blue square remains, but simple cropping has given it new versatility. The ironic solution for this work was to make the logo do less, removing letters and shifting the hierarchy. The collateral executions are to the point and free of embellishments with the use of white space that helps the deep blues of the brand palette pop.

It's interesting to see a broad movement towards more simplified and basic logo refreshes, a related example: Mastercard, where existing shapes were removed in favor of a more minimalistic, Venn diagram resembling the appearance of just two circles. Some big brands are seemingly cutting out details in support of the most simplified expression of their logo. Taking a step back the end result of the refresh produces a bolder more simplified and legible expression of the brand that can serve American Express well on digital platforms and beyond.