Established in 2006 — through the merger of of six Danish energy companies: DONG, Elsam, Energi E2, Nesa, Københavns Energi and Frederiksberg Forsyning — DONG Energy is an energy company “with a renewables portfolio based on leading competences in offshore wind, bioenergy, and energy solutions” with operations mostly in Northwestern Europe. In its own description, DONG Energy refers to itself as having been “one of the most coal-intensive utilities in Europe” but over the years it has become a leader in renewable energy, particularly offshore wind power. Aside from harvesting energy, it’s also a utility company, offering energy services directly to consumers. Earlier this month, DONG Energy changed its name to Ørsted — after Danish scientist, Hans Christian Ørsted — and introduced a new identity designed by Copenhagen, Denmark-based Kontrapunkt.
Ørsted is an international company with global ambitions rooted in solid, Danish values such as humanity, curiosity, commitment and responsibility. Therefore, it was natural to draw inspiration from the Danish version of functionalism and the Danish design tradition as these represent exactly those values.
Just as functionalism in the 1930’s was a significant break with earlier styles and brought light and air into the lives of the Danes, Ørsted breaks with the industry it is part of. Ørsted wants to simplify and express itself in a way that is new for the industry. As a result, Kontrapunkt has brought the characteristics of the Danish functionalism into the present and the future. We have created a contemporary, value based brand design that shows how we can design brands that redefine the category they belong to and the entire understanding of corporate branding while staying true to their values and legacy.
Ørsted is a multi faceted and contemporary brand full of colours that are used functionally to create navigation and clear, simple systems in the communication. We have not developed a central logo that is the sum of the brand but instead a simple logotype written in the customised typography. The logotype is blue as that is the colour of the sky with references to great visions and ambitions. And the sky and air are also the domains of the wind. Furthermore, the choice of blue is an ode to the Danish, functionalistic painter Vilhelm Lundstrøm and his tireless hunt for the eternal blue.
In its base form, the customised typography is inspired by the functionalism in The Nordic countries in the 1930’s. It is geometric, easy to read and simple but at the same time – studying the details and shapes – you can see that they are organic, human and inclusive, inspired by wind and weather.
If the old logo looks familiar, it’s because we Noted it back in 2015 when Dong Energy split into two companies, with one keeping the name and the other changing to Radius — with an identity also designed by Kontrapunkt (you gotta love a client that keeps on givin’). For the record, DONG is short for Dansk Olie og Naturgas (Danish Oil and Gas) which, yes, is an unfortunate English-sounding name, which, yes, makes any logo with that name difficult to critique without your inner teenager giggling but I will try. The old logo was funky, almost in a good way, with some subtle angles shaping and cutting the letters in unexpected ways that could have almost been great if all the characters had a more defined tilt instead of cramming the angles into squared-off characters. The “energy” underneath was a complete afterthought, poorly integrated and executed. With DONG getting the shaft — sorry — it was possible to take the logo into a completely new direction and everything about this project, from name to logo to application is a hard 180-degree change.
In terms of scientist popularity I don’t know where Hans Christian Ørsted ranks but I imagine he is no Albert Einstein so choosing his last name as the company’s name is… interesting. When I first saw the project I imagined Ørsted being Danish for “wind” or something to do with energy. I’m not exactly sure what point I’m trying to drive with this other than questioning how viable last names of civilians are as corporate names (when it’s not a founder’s first or last name). Anyway…
At first glance, the new logo doesn’t look like much and the first impression is “Oh, great, an energy company using the power button icon” but, as a way of abstracting the “Ø” character, it’s a subtle, clever, and relevant use of the otherwise tired visual cliché of the power button. Embedded in a custom type wordmark of the geometric sans serif kind, the result is a perfectly pleasant, relatively unexciting corporate wordmark. But it sets the tone for a classy and airy identity.
The custom type family operates in the Lineto Brown frequency but adds some heavy curvature in a few of the characters, most notably the “y” and, surprisingly, that’s enough to make it fairly distinct and offer a slightly different variation on the geometric sans serif aesthetic. Also, the word “Sky” looks fantastic.
The lifestream is a love letter to nature, an ever-changing graphical element inspired by phenomenons created by the forces of nature and the unleashing of energy and movement. It is a way of visualising the core product of Ørsted – renewable wind energy – without ever becoming static.
The introduction of the “lifestream” textures makes a huge difference in livening up the identity and adding a graphic device that breaks the “Danish functionalism” to add a spark of graphic-ness to the otherwise spare elements, which are all nice and fine but could easily be painfully bland.
Overall, this is a great redesign that transforms what was a very aggressive red and black identity to a much more approachable and friendly-to-the-world identity that is still decidedly corporate.