Inside Aardman's fun rebrand powered by "heart and soul, honesty and silliness"

Designer Gavin Strange takes us through giving the animation firm behind Wallace and Gromit a fresh new look.

Aardman has made a makeover. The animation firm best known for stop-motion adventures featuring the archetypically British duo Wallace and Gromit – but which also includes a digital animation studio producing CG films and commercials – has been given a rebrand lead by Aardman senior designer Gavin Strange.

The rebrand is based on Aardman’s key strengths: creating fun short- and long-form animated films with iconic characters that people love.

"You could go round the houses looking for deep and meaningful design rationale,” says Gavin, "but that’s not right for Aardman – heart and soul, honesty and silliness needed to be at the core.”

All of the new designs – which extend from the usual business collateral such as business cards and letterheads to a brand-new website – are peppered with faces you recognise: Wallace, Gromit, Morph, Rex the Runt, Shawn the Sheep. There are also less well-known figures such as Angry Kids and sketched elements that reinforce that Aardman is the creative force behind this – something echoed in the sticker sheets that make up part of the rebrand.

Read on learn more about the rebrand's graphic and interactive design – including Gavin's three guiding design priniciples.

The biggest challenge, says Gavin, was the business cards.

"How do you convey everything Aardman has done for the last 30+ years and everything it wants to do for the next 30, in an 85 by 55mm rectangle?,” he says.

The answer was to create multiple designs using characters and props from Aardman’s history: six different back designs and three different for the front for a total of 18 combinations.  The back is covered with characters, while the front focusses on one or two (with others in the background with a halftone effete applied.

Gavin says that there were three guiding principles for the design work. First off, he says, "It’s all about the work. The beautiful images, still and moving, that we spend so much time creating needed to be the focus, not the branding. Everything should fall back to make them sing.”

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"Keep things simple,” is the next principle. "White space and room to breathe is essential, but don’t let it feel cold. We use a halftone texture from a director’s sketchbook to give a bit of depth to stuff.”

Lastly Gavin wanted to “make it wonky. With the simplicity, we didn’t want to stray into it looking too corporate, so we ‘wonked’ things right up. Simple rotated edges and negative space cut-ins help unbalance things slightly."

The new Aardman website uses full-screen video and CSS-driven animation to maintain the sense of fun online. It even manages to use parallax scrolling well, using the much-maligned page motions to reveal hidden characters.

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The site also debuts a custom filter system to help visitors – from fans of the films to potential clients for Aardman’s commercials and digital teams – find the content or information they’re looking for.

The site has a fully responsive design to work across mobile, tablet and desktop browsers.

Aardman's With Compliments sheets include an actual compliment.

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The stickers are designed to be used by Aardman staff to customise things that they’re sending out, reinforcing the creativity of the Aardman brand.