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Spice Girls: Re-branding a Phenomenon

Words:

Edd Norval
June 5, 2019

At one point, over two decades ago, the Spice Girls were the biggest band in the world. No matter who, no matter where - Spice Mania swept across the globe and pulled everyone in with it. Now that they are back, the band needed new branding and identity to help them grow up with their ageing audience.

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Because each one had such a distinct identity - Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Posh - there was a relate-ability in that group that made them equally as desirable for young kids as it did a comfort for teenagers growing up. Everyone was different, and that's something they celebrated.


The zenith of their success came at the tail-end of the 90s, where their style tapped into the zeitgeist like no other, influencing pop music and its style, as well as graphics, management and the very notion of celebrity, beyond any expectations for a bubblegum pop act at the time.


Now that they're back, they're older, more mature - grown-ups. But so are their audience who, just like them, have changed their outlook and interests. In launching a comeback, the Spice Girls have been careful to avoid merely rehashing their old image, potentially alienating the millions of people who grew up listening to them. To keep in touch with a new audience, they subtly reinvented themselves with the help of graphic designer, illustrator and art director Kate Moross, who also happened to be a very big fan.

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Currently working as an art director for Jessie Ware, Moross has long been involved in the music scene and is well placed to help visualise the future for the Spice Girls.


Through a largely typographic style, Moross has been making impactful work within the pop music domain steadily over the last decade. This was a whole different beast though. Instead of inventing, it's a case of re-inventing (sort of) one of the most recognisable brands in the industry's history. To do so, Moross has taken the DNA from then and transplanted it into the sensibilities of now.


Collaborating with the band's creative director and production designer, Moross, with her Studio Moross helped design the merchandise, but also visualise the whole aesthetic for the current tour. Picking up the globe element of the 'Spice World' branding and incorporating post-internet style imagery, the new direction is simple, type-heavy, illustrative and bold. Instead of clashing colours, the new Spice Girls are less confrontational, opting instead to play with subtle hues of one colour. Grown up indeed.

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The amount of work and research put into ushering in this new era is evident in the way it has so seamlessly integrated into contemporary pop music culture, whilst also sitting well with hardcore fans and getting well-deserved nods from industry insiders. It required the deftest of touches to do so and that's what Studio Moross and the team brought.


Using a well-honed approach, Moross understood the power of nostalgia, of remembering and re-living happy moments and feelings from the past. But there's also the key element of cutting through the clutter of 90s reinvention, something that's been happening throughout design and fashion for the last two or three years. It began with a semi-ironic reverence for retro sportswear and has become a part of pop culture all over again (see Post-Malone, sad boys and post-internet Tumblr).


To not just rehash an icon meant to also add something new (without taking too much of the original away either). That's what Moross has done. Drawn from a template that set the world alight two decades ago, the new visual identity is both homage and evolution. By using 'Easter Eggs' in the new Spice World, to directly reference the older stuff, Moross has, above all, remembered that this is something that should be fun - and who could argue with that. Just take a look and try not to hum along.

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