Aqua Babies is a swimming school for babies and toddlers in Greater Manchester, UK. Founded in 1999 the company has grown to a size and reputation where it has become a thriving franchise, teaching over 1,200 babies every week to swim.
With growing competition, Ian Paget was contacted to redesign the company logo to raise the standard, and differentiate the brand within the market.
When Aqua Babies was first founded in 1999 by Wendy Edmondson (a former Primary School teacher who become a baby swim instructor), there was a lack of local baby swimming programmes in the North West. This meant there was no direct competition to worry about, and the business could thrive.
After 20 years the situation has changed with a range of similar swimming schools competing for the same audience, meaning Aqua Babies have needed to be more strategic with their brand identity.
The previous logo design included a cartoon seahorse along with a stylised liquid wordmark. Although identifiable, the logo not only started to fade into the crowd of similar childlike logos from competitors, but it also made the company look cheap – a problem when positioned at the top-end of the market.
Aqua Babies wanted the logo to be redesigned so that it would represent the business as a high-end professional service, that would appeal to the parents more than the children.
After 20 years in business, the logo redesign will still need to be remain recognisable to customers. What attributes should remain?
Although babies and toddlers take the swimming classes, they are are not the target audience – the parents are. The new logo needs to move away from the cartoon aesthetic.
The childlike aesthetic of the previous logo immediately communicates ‘baby’. How can we maintain this attribute whilst targeting parents?
How can we give a high-end feel to the design whilst remaining approachable? The right balance needs to be found since the service is affordable quality.
To assist with immediate recognition a few key elements of the previous identity were maintained. This included the blue and purple colour scheme, and the sea horse mascot. This would also ensure that the business retained the components that allowed differentiation from the competition.
The initial focus was to design a new seahorse symbol. Various routes were explored during the idea generation phase of the logo design process, however the final design as presented here was inspired by that of a real baby sea-horse.
The subtle cute proportions of the character, combined with a downward facing head resulted in a beautiful icon that immediately felt youthful, however, it also has a high-end aesthetic to it due to the realistic proportions and style used. It was the perfect balance of aesthetic features the design needed.
To add visual interest to the seahorse symbol, a wave feature was incorporated. Doing this enhanced the high-quality aesthetic of the logo, further solidifying its suitability for the swimming school.
To support the new symbol, a clean, sharp san serif typeface was chosen which was a dramatic change from the previous logo. This change helped to position the identity differently, so that parents could better relate to the brand, whilst also giving a greater sense of professionalism and trust needed with a high-end service.
To bring the icon and type design together, the font was customised to incorporate the same wave style within the icon, which also gives an immediate association to water. All together the final logo is a stylish and modern design that perfectly solves the challenges faced.