The Grace name has been around in Australia since 1904, when two brothers, Albert Edward and Joseph Neal Grace, opened the first Grace Bros department store in Sydney. In 1911, the company bought a storage facility in the inner west and two horse-drawn vehicles to establish a small household removals business in addition to the expanding retail operations. Over 100 years later, Grace Removals (now simply Grace) boasts a fleet of over 500 vehicles and 60 branches across Australia, offering a broader range of specialty services. These include commercial relocations, records management, fine art services, storage solutions and more. (Grace/About Us)
Since 2004, when the Grace Bros department stores were bought by and rebranded as Myer, the Grace name seemed to fade. As United Yeah puts it, “the Australian collective memory of Grace became muddled and vague. Had it even been a real store, or was it just a dream?” These days, you might catch a glimpse of the red letters on a passing truck every now and then, but never hear from the company otherwise. To reintroduce the company as a “confident commercial powerhouse striding boldly into the future”, Grace appointed United Yeah to create a contemporary identity with which to face that future.
Grace’s nine divisions all had different ideas about what their updated identity should look like. We realised the Grace rebranding project was going to be about more than just updating a treasured Australian icon. We were going to have to unite it as well. […]
“Always more” is the culmination of months of intensive effort to distil the essence of Grace – from their humble beginnings to the future of their expanding service offering. It describes the richness of their history, the scope of their business, the reach of their services, the scale of their ambition, and their promise to customers. But most importantly, with a simple aspiration that the whole company can get behind, it describes a brand united as one.
The old logo borrowed the look of the defunct Grace Bros logo, retaining a Friz Quadrata-esque typeface and the red. It was thinner, and with those sharp, chiselled serifs it felt cold and unpleasant – it was as if the letters would start bleeding like on some horror movie poster. In application, the logo was usually the only design element, with very little support. It was certainly less confronting when rendered in white, as on the uniform above. Overall it was quite outdated, burdened with its history, and looking anachronistic. How it had endured, for years after the dissolution of the Grace Bros brand, is beyond me.
Watching home renovation segments on TV, I’ve noticed that designers tend to paint light walls dark and dark walls light for the sake of before-and-after impact for the viewers. It feels like a similar, one-extreme-to-the-other transformation for the Grace logo – from a thin, all-caps, serif typeface, United Yeah have arrived at a bold, all-lowercase sans-serif logo. Effra is the new typeface used throughout the identity, a design with grotesque characteristics mixed with soft humanist details, and it immediately lends a warmth that was severely lacking before.
Whenever I encounter text-only logos, I appreciate efforts to customise the characters in some way to differentiate the text from plain typesetting. Here, the letters remain intact, but the colon character has been modified; while the dots in Effra’s punctuation marks are square, the dots of this colon are round. I think it’s a good change because it feels friendlier than the original squares. The only issue that arises, and I may be nitpicking, is that when the logo appears next to the new slogan, “Always More.”, it reveals an inconsistency between the shapes of the colon and the full stop. Keeping the square full stop is fine for copy, but when in close proximity with the logo, it almost feels like a mistake.
I suppose the idea behind the colon is to suggest that something will follow, something will always follow. It speaks to the notion of “always more”, the idea that Grace goes above and beyond to meet your needs with its myriad service lines.
The round-dotted colon becomes a springboard for other identity elements, such as a grid of dots on the staff uniforms (which I think are the best part of the new look). It’s a nice, simple design that adds some snazziness and introduces cool hues to the historically red and grey palette. I’m not sure if there is a rationale behind the omission of some dots, but my impression is that they appear to be moving from one side to the other, symbolising relocation.
The grid of dots looks terrible on the brochure cover above, though, where it just appears to be a space filler that overwhelms the page.
Posters and ads feature the colon in a more abstract fashion, peeking through on one side of the layouts. I appreciate its boldness (in the “brave” sense), but I think its scale on the page is far too large, as it looks like it could swallow up the accompanying headlines. The layouts are otherwise safe in their execution.
Overall, the new identity is a definite improvement on the old look (well, anything would have been, really). It lends Grace a modern image that aligns with the high quality customer service it prides itself on, and brings the company gracefully into the 21st century.
Below: introduction to the new branding