Aspen Skiing Co.’s brand re-evaluation led to the change of the iconic aspen leaf logo

New logos adorn Elk Camp Gondola taxis in Snowmass Village on Monday, August 16, 2021 (Kelsey Brunner / The Aspen Times)

When Aspen Skiing Co. teased its new logo on social media last week, several observers said they had to call a spade a spade. What they saw was the Ace of Spades from a deck of cards.

Skico brand manager Erin Sprague said Thursday she wouldn’t tell them they were wrong. “Everyone sees something different in a logo,” she said.

But in reality, the new logo is rooted in the company’s original aspen leaf emblem, designed by Herbert Bayer, the famous Austro-American graphic designer who contributed so much to the rebirth of Aspen after WWII. .

“This is the fifth iteration (of the logo),” Sprague said. “We really got back to basics, at the very beginning. In fact, we did not set out for the purpose of making this change.

Aspen Skiing Corp./Aspen Skiing Co. used five iterations of an aspen leaf for its logo. The first, on the left, was designed by Herbert Bayer.
Courtesy Image

The company hired Sprague three years ago and his team immediately embarked on a long process to assess Skico’s branding strategy. They looked at “who we are” and what Skico stands for.

“We were trying to figure out what makes us special,” Sprague said. “We’ve been a company for 75 years, it’s a really big deal in this world.”

They interviewed 80 people within the company and institutions elsewhere in the community. The process reinforced the image of the company as a value and a goal.

“We kind of knew it,” she said, “but we decided we needed to express it in a more tangible way.”

The branding assessment led to a reexamination of the company’s “visual identity”, Sprague said. This ultimately led to the decision to move on from the fourth iteration of the Aspen Leaf logo – one with a more clearly defined aspen leaf that subtly incorporated an “S” for Snowmass – at least in the eyes of some observers.

There was no doubt that an aspen leaf would always be part of the logo.

“The leaf is an important part of who we are and where we come from,” Sprague said. “Design has always been an important part of Aspen’s ethics since Elizabeth Paepcke and Herbert Bayer. Quality design is part of the fabric of our resort and our community experience.

She added, “It had to be a leaf and it had to honor that legacy, but we also wanted to simplify it.”

The new logo is an outline of a leaf that represents the natural world, according to Sprague. The open interior is “a window, an invitation to connect,” she said. “We are really the outline and we want to allow each participant to have their own discovery and their own journey. “

RJ Gallagher has helped conceptualize branding and refresh brands for 40 years as the owner of an Aspen-based public relations and advertising firm. He’s worked with everything from mom-and-pop stores to Fortune 500 companies. It’s a complex job, he said, because you have to engage the old ones, excite the newcomers and “make the next one.” step what it takes now. Many try, most fail.

When contacted by The Aspen Times, he gave his opinion on the new Skico logo with the understanding that he was not part of the process and had no idea what the team was thinking. .

“My first impression when I saw the renewed ASC brand was that I had seen this before,” he said. “Not a bad thing and not really a negative point. It’s an ace of spades for me. Again, this is not negative, just a first impression.

He said the logo is simple and clean, sexy with flowing lines of interconnectivity and grace.

“I’m not a fan of ‘safer than sorry’ when it comes to a brand refresh,” said Gallagher. “I think the powers that be at ASC have taken up this challenge here.”

He said only Skico officials know how the new logo will reflect and represent their future business model.

“It strikes me as a fashion brand,” said Gallagher. “It doesn’t strike me as a brand of the great outdoors, adventure, energetic and great outdoors. Again, this is not negative.

Skico opened to comments on August 13 when he posted on Facebook a short video of the logo’s transformations over time and the teaser, “Leaves change at the start of the year …”

One observer wrote: “Did you go from an aspen to a shovel? The old logo was more unique. The new one has too much empty space.

Another reviewer said: “I saw the logo change from Awesome to What?!?!”

But another urged observers to “settle in.”

Sprague said she was prepared for various reactions. Skico is doing well, leaving the logo open to interpretation.

“I think when there is innovation and change, for some people it just takes them a little longer to see it,” she said. “Change can be good or bad, but it is inevitable. We believe it’s a timely change that sets up an optimistic future and focuses on how we can have the most positive impact possible. The logo is the basis of this work. The logo is the first step.

The new emblem makes its appearance. It has already been affixed to the cabins of the Elk Camp Gondola in Snowmass and will soon adorn the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen Mountain. The logo will be on all mountain and base orientation signs, new uniforms for 2021-2022, hotels, a new retail store and Skico’s new clothing and luxury goods brand called ASPENX.

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