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The DHL logo on its own isn’t an extraordinary piece of design. But it is just one element of a holistic visual identity that we created for Deutsche Post and its subsidiaries back in the mid-1990s.
As a creative director for the Nitsch Design agency in Düsseldorf from 1995 until 2003, I was responsible for the brand design of Deutsche Post. And when Deutsche Post acquired DHL, the migration of the DHL brand into what would become the Deutsche Post DHL Group became part of my remit.
From the beginning we developed a strong, concise and remarkable colour concept as the main anchor for the Deutsche Post identity. At that time DHL was already an established brand in the US and we decided to make only slight changes to the logo itself (adjusting the angle of the letters and the spacing between them, opening the counterforms and adjusting proportions and the shade of red) to bring it into line with the Deutsche Post brand family.
The colour concept (replacing the white with the Deutsche Post yellow) was important for brand recognition. Still, establishing a global brand on a long-term basis requires market penetration and patience. Today DHL is a brand leader and almost everyone recognises its yellow vans.
For me the hype about the fashion label [Vetements, the collective led by Demna Gvasalia] is typical of the fashion industry and a consumer-driven and sense-devoid society. Selling a T-shirt with a DHL logo for £185 is crazy. Buying it for this price is beyond reason.
I can’t see any creativity in printing a well-known brand on a T-shirt. What is genius is persuading people to freak out about a simple T-shirt. I give the designers and marketing people at Vetements credit if they can sell an “ugly” T-shirt for £185. It’s totally nuts.
We live in an overexcited world. As consumers we have to deal with thousands of products and brands that vie for our attention. So it becomes more and more difficult for designers and marketers to create something completely new to serve glutted markets. For Vetements the DHL T-shirt is a lucky stunt, and it’s good PR for DHL, too. DHL tolerates the T-shirt (or perhaps it has a deal with Vetements) because it promotes its brand on a channel and in a market where it wouldn’t normally get any attention.
“Ugly” or not, the DHL T-shirt is the best choice from the Vetements website. I wouldn’t wear any of the other tops, even if I got them for free.
Second photograph: Catwalking
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