I love seeing good design work unpacked and reassembled into something new. The re-use can be as creative an act as the original thing, sometimes more so. Who knows in this case — the van I designed five years ago has been stripped bare of some, but not all of the graphics. It was parked just outside my office on 17 Street.
The van’s dirty, it’s not the greatest photo, and I risked my life taking it while driving, but it’s a perfect “in situ” shot of the A&E identity and van that we designed for Sears. They inherited the brand from Montgomery Ward and it’s the second largest fleet of home repair service vehicles in the US (the first being Sears’ own Parts & Repair Services vans, which we also branded). The graphics were designed to be as visible as possible when the vans pull up in driveways for a service call.
What are the design criteria when proposing a new identity for a $50 billion retail giant that operates 3,800 stores? Creative possibilities were limited, but in the end we were able to push a very imposing and corporate identity — one they had used ubiquitously for 25 years — to a slightly warmer and friendlier place. At the time, we lobbied (unsuccessfully) against the swoosh, a mandate from the client. After a few years they’ve now finally dropped it from national advertising, and I must admit: I miss it.