London-based brand and design studio Limber Brands has rebranded Adam Matthew, an archival specialist creating digitised collections for higher education. The rebrand centres around a simplified new name: AM.
For the past 30 years, Adam Matthew has been one of the leading primary source specialists in the UK. Limber Brands co-founder and Creative Partner Joseph Harries explained: "Primary sources are original historical artefacts, documents or photos – not reproductions in books. In the old days, you'd have to physically visit specialist archives. Now they're often digitised, housed in themed collections – anything from the colonial Caribbean to post-war consumer culture. Using original primary sources gives students the freedom to think critically about history, rather than to rely on existing interpretations."
But despite an incredibly rich offer, the company's brand was overly confusing and obscure – a typical issue in the higher education resource space. Limber Brands was brought in to change that. "We needed to pump up the brand recognition and build on their reputation for deep-dive quality," explained Harries.
The resulting rebrand is a testament to how a brand can streamline and elevate service through clarity and thoughtful design.
The first port of call was to amend the name – through extensive interviews with employees at every level of the business, Harries and his team identified that a lack of clarity around the name was a significant issue. Harries explained: "It unhelpfully sounded like a person (there is no Adam Matthew), and multiple names were used with little logic: Adam Matthew, Adam Matthew Digital, AM Digital, AMD. As one interviewee said, 'How are our customers ever going to know our name if we can't quite decide what we're going to be called?'"
Limber Brands' solution is simple but effective: a company name change from Adam Matthew to AM. Harries said: "It removes the problem of 'who's Adam?'" The new name will also be applied across AM's sub-brands, creating much-needed coherency.
"The creative idea relies on the new name," Harries told Creative Boom. AM presents amazing historical collections, expertly curated and in very high resolution. The new AM logo by Limber Brands reveals this content in the space between the A and M. The images revealed are shown up close and focusing on a key area – "like peeking into an archive box," said Harries.
The logo uses the strong triangular rhythm of the two letters and has a sense of reveal in its use of two shades of yellow. The logo and reveal device then act as a flexible hero graphic for applications. It's an incredibly clever feature that makes the new name highly functional as well as crucially clear.
Meanwhile, each sub-brand offering emphasises the master brand but adapts the colourway to create one clear family. They are all combined into one website for the first time, organised in sections based on the customer's needs: Discover, Learn and Create.
The brand typography uses a custom version of Klarheit by Extraset for headlines. It contains vertical cuts or shadows in certain letters that mirror the reveal effect used in imagery.
For Limber's Harries, the AM project was a perfect storm. He told Creative Boom: "This is one of those projects where the central idea, in this case, the space within the name opening up to reveal archive images, was a quick sketch in a notebook and immediately felt right. From then on, developing it flowed really smoothly, which is always a good sign. It helped that we had access to their amazing digital archives and could dig around for great images on everything from 18th-century seafaring diaries to the Black Panthers."
The new brand is exactly what AM needed to showcase its impressive collections and connect more intentionally with its audience. Andrew Hunter, Head of Marketing at AM, said, "Limber created a visual identity that perfectly encapsulated our mission and values as a company. It combines everything we currently do and supercharges what's coming next."