A Missed Design Opportunity for the Dick Smith Brand

Like bumping into an old friend
Currently I’m in the market for a new TV, so last week whilst I was shopping at Victoria Gardens, I popped into Dick Smith to see what they had on offer. On the way in I was greeted by a familiar face, Dick himself. See they’ve yet to rebrand this store with the new identity. As you may know, last year Dick Smith rebranded (some stores anyway). Now much has been said about the design of the new brandmark and I don’t mean to get into the issues it may have or lecture the designers who created it – what I do want to talk about is the brand personality and what I see as a missed opportunity. Seeing the old identity in all its glory reminded me of what has been lost.

Old Dick Smith Logo

I liked the old Dick Smith brand, yes it was old-school but It had tonnes of personality. Being new to Australia I didn’t even know who Dick was, but still the brand had appeal to me. It’s simplistic bumble bee colouring, it’s strong sans serif font and the iconic grinning bespectacled face of Dick. It had personality and affinity. From the moment I first saw it off Chapel Street I knew the people who ran this outfit were geeks, they were technically adroit and most of all if I went into the store they’d be friendly.

New Dick Smith Logo

The new brand is slick and fashionable if a bit dull. It uses the speech bubble consistently to frame every communication, in what seems to be a forced solution. And while the tag line ‘Talk to the Techxperts’ has a natty link into the speech bubble brand device and a painfully trendy use of text language, it leaves me cold. They have replaced the friendly geek with cyborg Techxperts.

When I found out who Dick Smith actual was, I was dumb founded. That a brand could throw away it’s heritage and a true personality and mentor to the brand, amazed me. I understand he is no longer associated with the company and there may be some issue with using his face, but throwing out an Australian Living Treasure just seems irresponsible.

My real pain comes from the missed opportunity to use those iconic glasses – how on earth could they miss it! The opportunity to ‘reframe’ the brand yet keep the heritage, own a visual device that across the world it a cue for intelligent, cultural, alternative and technically adept. Everyone who wears the glasses becomes a clever Dick! Never mind talking to the Techxperts, Talk to Dick! Think of the fun the double entendres could bring to the advertising and brand communications. The glasses would also link back to the brand’s heritage by bringing back to mind the pranks Mr Smith would play or his scurrilous matches.

Dickheads Matches

When it comes to re-imaging your brand it’s always vital to be aware of the true value residing in your brand assets – especially when they stare you in the face. If you’d like to talk to us about re-imagining your brand, adding personality or leveraging the hell out of you brand assets get in contact.

Derek Carroll
Director of Design

9 Comments

  1. What a great article. I agree with your thoughts on the Dick Smith re-brand, but the solution you offer strikes me as a much better one than where they ended-up. Mostly I agree with how the new identity has lost so-much of the value of their brand assets.

  2. I don’t mind the new brandmark, it’s clean and contemporary. The only issue I had with it when I saw it for the first time was the line – Talk to the Techxperts – a tiny bit daggy! Overall I do agree with you that the Dick Smith brand has missed an opportunity to become a modern ‘Dick’. Logos change over and over again, so lets hope the next time the personality is pumped up to another level.

  3. A great blog and what interesting insights you have and I must admit I agree with everything you’ve written. It’s funny, when I saw the first rebrand it certainly didn’t push my buttons and the tag line? I just can’t stand it!

  4. Lisa Taliana

    The new logo is more contemporary and clean, with the D a talk bubble (to tie in with Talk to the Techxperts). I like it. The glasses/face are outdated in the original logo, in fact the whole logo is. I doubt it would be the designer’s fault who came up with the new branding, but yet the company who took over and decided to rebrand it. Designers are under the direction of a detailed brief set by the client.

    I think the new version is better and at the end of the day, the glasses alone would give the impression that they are in optometry not the tech industry. When you reproduce the original Dick Smith logo at a smaller size, it is hard to read and cluttered. Doing away with the image of Dick Smith could also been an issue for Dick Smith himself and perhaps it was a stage where his image would be phased out. After all his face is on a company that is no longer his. I wouldn’t want mine on a logo/brand that I didn’t own.

    Great article though.

  5. Considering the fact that Dick Smith (the man) has nothing to do with Dick Smith (the company) any more, and the fact that Dick Smith (the company) is shifting it’s focus from electronics (resistors, fuses, capacitors etc) to consumer electronics, the word ‘Electronics’ isn’t suited to Dick Smith (the company) any more.

    I think the shift from the old to the new is a great one. Combine the new look logo and uniform with the new look stores, and Dick Smith (the company) is looking better each and every day. Meanwhile, Dick Smith (the man) is whinging about just about anything that has nothing to do about him.

  6. Lisa,
    I have no problems with the new design or the designers that did it (apart maybe for the obvious similarity to the Duffy Partners identity) it’s more an issue of the lack of vision with the brand strategy.

    Lisa & Peter,
    There is either value in the Dick Smith connection or there isn’t, if there is leverage it.
    If there isn’t, why is the company still called after him?

  7. I worked under Dick waaaay back in the mid 70s.
    Yes, there were ALWAY those bordering-on-smutty, plays on “Dick” this and that back then.
    Even our first delivery truck was called “The electronic Dick”.

    I have watched over the years as the original “Dick-head™” Logo has been unfortunately – and-VERY clunkily – altered.

    That winning engaging squinting smile, that captured perfectly “That-guy-on-the-Petrol-powered-Pogo-Stick” that I sought out to work for, evolved into a “safe” logo, with now not even a hint of that Larikinism that once permeated the brand. Evidence of “too many cooks” having their say. They can certainly now travel the way of KFC, as no doubt very few – or none – of today’s shareholders would have any emotional history stock invested in what is now DSE.

    We are unfortunately still a good 2 years away from a projected era in which the public value of the percceived longevity of a corporate logo will count significantly in re-branding decisions.

    Relying on “Talk to the Techsperts” has far less weight now, considering the DSE franchise model has long neglected its regular training on such basic matters as staff imparting great PASSION to the customer in their attitude towards working there, and in the products.

    All-in-all, they have now neglected the WHY of their customers.

    A Dick smith customer should always feel loyal because they LOVE coming there, they LOVE the logo, and they LOVE that they feel comfortable that it has been safely around forever.

    • Thanks Warren, great to have your insights added to the post. Your perspective cuts right to the very essence of what can make a brand great. It’s often these subtleties that people within the business feel intuitively, but don’t fit within the standard marketing framework that become lost and eroded after the sale of a business from the founder to retail investors. But I guess if there weren’t people nmaking these mistakes, there’d be less demand for experts in the craft of brand strategy and communication like us to come-in and right the ship. Thanks for your comments.

Post a comment

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,